Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spinning May 18: M. Cook (sorry it took so long to post)

Well, May, 18's political primary races didn't disappoint.

The question pundits and prognosticators of all political persuasions are now asking is, "What does it all mean for November?"

May, 18 was a very bad day for incumbents and for the establishments of the two political parties - especially the entrenched Republican establishment.

Rand Paul's GOP primary victory over Trey Grayson, the handpicked candidate of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also had the very public backing of GOP heavy hitters like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, was the political "shot heard 'round the world" in many ways.

No doubt it has put the fear of God into the GOP establishment, as it struggles with how best to manage the increasingly right wing, almost neo-fascist, Tea Party tiger the GOP establishment created, and whose back it believed it could ride.

Rand Paul's primary victory over Grayson by almost twenty five points was, indeed, impressive. It has, as one would expect, sent Tea Partiers into a euphoric swoon.

But, the fact remains, what happened on May, 18 in Kentucky, as impressive was it was, was just a primary election , with a very small percentage of Kentucky's eligible GOP voters even bothering to go to the polls.

The GOP in Kentucky is badly split, with 53% of GOP Grayson voters holding a "highly negative" view of Rand Paul, and 43% of those voters emphatically stating, according to a Public Policy Polling survey, they will not vote for him in November.

That, despite all the Tea Partiers' morning after euphoria, is not a good omen in terms of the GOP holding on to the seat now held by retiring GOP Senator Jim Bunning, especially when one considers that registered Democrats and independents outnumber registered Republicans in Kentucky by a significant margin.

For Kentucky Democrats, the surprisingly high primary voter turn out has bolstered optimism that a reenergized base will help propel the Democratic nominee, Jack Conway, to the Senate. Many Democratic strategists in the state expect Rand Paul's often extreme, right wing, rhetoric to keep the base energized, pull in many of the state's independents, and, at the very least, keep those Republicans who dislike and distrust Paul home, come the second Tuesday in November.

We shall see. We shall see.

The Republican and Tea Party belief, it's almost an article of faith, that November will bring a routing of the Democrats hit another snag on the 18th when Mark Critz, a Democrat, defeated the GOP candidate, Tim Burns, in the special election held to fill the seat held by the late Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha.

Many people thought Burns would capture Murtha's seat, given the district went for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008, and has always been more of a "Reagan Democrat" stronghold than a "Kennedy Democrat" one.

But Critz defeated Burns by eight percentage points in a district many, if not most, pundits predicted would flip to the Republicans.

In Arkansas and Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primaries, one incumbent, Arlen Specter, was rousted by a Democratic challenger, Representative Joe Sestak, who ran to Specter's left on most issues; and in Arkansas, Lt.Gov. Bill Halter, held incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln to less than fifty percent of the primary vote, thus forcing a run off election on June, 8.

Like Sestak in Pennsylvania, Halter ran to the left/liberal side of the centrist Lincoln and mobilized a significant level of support from the base of the Arkansas Democratic party.

The races in Arkansas and Pennyslvania are fueling optimism that the Democratic base will be far more enaged and mobilized in November than it has historically been in mid-term elections.

Again, we shall see.

But back to the question in the second sentence of this column regarding what May, 18 means in terms of November.

The honest answer is, "Nobody really knows."

But we do know a few things.

The first is that the party controlling the White House, especially if it also controls one or both Houses of the Legislative Branch, almost always loses seats in a mid term election.

That's why all the talk about a rout come November brings on a big yawn from me. I fully expect the Democrats to lose some seats. It is, after all, the historical norm.

Will they lose their majority in one or both Houses? It's too early to say, but I'm predicting the answer is "probably not".

The other thing we know is, despite Rand Paul's upset victory in Kentucky, the Tea Party, when all is said and done, represents only a very small sliver of the electorate. A sliver that is overwhelmingly white and that, at least within some of its factions, is displaying increasingly right wing, racist, nastily xenophobic, and sundry other nasty traits that have a way, once people look at the whole phenomenon a little more closely, of turning many people off, especially independents and more moderate Republicans off.

I suspect, given the number of Republicans in Kentucky who hold negative views of Rand Paul and, at least indirectly, the Tea Party movement he personifies, we will see similar numbers emerge across the nation as the election season heats up and more and more Americans take a closer look at the Tea Party phenomenon and the candidates it fields.

But still,no one really has any idea what all this will mean, and how it will play out come November.

But one thing is certain. 2010 promises to be one of the most interesting and volatile mid-term election cycles we have seen in a very long time.

Michael Cook
Gloucester, MA


Anonymous said...

Rand Paul is representative of what the Tea Party efforts will deliver in one important respect...

The guy is not a professional you can expect him (and many more like him) to step on his tongue, from time to time... to the enduring glee of so many.

I am encouraged by the prospect that we will have more citizen legislators in our immediate future.

Despite the professional posturing, the current crop of entrenched politicians are most probably not any better than a regular citizen.

In fact, I think I would be more encouraged to have legislators who not only came from the community of people who are most subject to the derivative regulations, but those who would be reentering that community after their service.

Our professional governing class seems entirely too removed from the consequences of their actions....


Anonymous said...

"In fact, I think I would be more encouraged to have legislators who not only came from the community of people who are most subject to the derivative regulations, but those who would be reentering that community after their service."

Would you also attempt to train a fox to guard a hen house, or hire a wino to work in a liquor store?

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

"Joe bidden is a professional political and he is alway stepping on his tongue."

So what?

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

Mr. Carrot:

Clearly you and I have a fundamental disagreement in terms of governance....

Somehow you seem to believe (as I interpret your comment) that government of by and for the people, is somehow akin to setting a fox to guard a hen house, or a wino to work in a liquor store....colorful similes, both, to be sure.

As for me....I prefer a government of by and for the people....

As opposed to, for example....a government of by and for the oligarchy.

I guess I hold just a bit more populist views than your doctrinaire holdings. ----anon

SJS said...

On IFC I just watched 'Fear' (which, it is granted, one would not watch unless one was of a particular political persuasion)...but the point is, populism is not what's behind the Tea Party movement. To put it mildly. To frame it cynically: Follow the money.

Anonymous said...


How do you feel about the big money that flows to and fro between big government and big unions? ----anon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, the money is not synonymous. One flow tries to ensure that the rank and file earn a decent wage, have benefits, etc...the other works against those very things.

And no, I won't give you examples. You can look them up yourself.

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

So you are OK with the unions buying the necessary levels of influence that yield for them:

- Spcial consideration under the unemployment laws so that workers who voluntarily strike can be subsidized by the unemployment insurance program in the Commonwealth

- Special consideration that stole value from secured bondholders in Chrysler to effect a transfer of ownership to the unions, in a corporation subsidized by taxpayers

- Special consideration that will award yet an additional $165 billion or so in taxpayer money to address the unfunded union pension liabilities (at a time, of course, when underfunded liabilities for items that the taxpayers already actually pay for....i.e. Social Security and Medicare, are scaled back....)

I guess I would have to hold similar political leanings as you do to get as exercised as you on the issue of funding that the teaparty movement might have received....

I will leave you to google ACORN, SEIU, "Free Press", "Open Society Institute", Alliance for Justice, American Immigration Law Foundation....

You can look them up yourself....----anon

Anonymous said...

And yet, all that pales next to the 'Too Big To Fail' money tossed at business. Again, what's your point?

- The Carrot

Anonymous said...

My point?

My point was that tea party candidates are more likely to be ordinary folks...more like the rest of us than they are like the professional politician class that currently rules as a disconnected oligarchy, in Washington, DC....

And as a result it is more than likely that they will be somewhat less polished and on point than most are used to from politicians...

And that opponents of tea party ideas will take great glee in the pointing out the errors made by these inexperienced politicians.

But....a few on this site kited this thread all over the sky to no particular purpose that I could discern...

You demonstrated this in your last post. You can look it up, yourself. -----anon

Anonymous said...

One more thing, Carrot....

For your enjoyment. ----anon

macsurf said...

My question is, "Why are you ALL, liberal or conservative, so AFRAID to sign your names to your opinions?

What does that fear say about our supposedly "free" society?

Just asking, don't mean to be flip

Mike Cook/macsurf