Two good post mortems


Comments from Mike Tremoglie:

One reason is that, while the national electorate has become increasingly more conservative, Republicans in the northeastern part of the United States remain liberal. Indeed, they have not even tried to introduce conservative ideas or institutions in the corridor from Maine to Maryland. This is especially true in the big cities of Philadelphia and Boston, which is counterintuitive when one considers Rudy Giuliani implemented conservative law enforcement ideas into New York City that proved to be extremely popular.

Yet, the Republican powers that be - i.e. Karl Rove - consider the Middle Atlantic and Northeast intractable warrens of liberalism. Not surprising considering he is from Texas. The two most egregious examples of this foolishness are the recent campaign strategies for Senate in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and the congressional districts in suburban Philadelphia. All of the Republican candidates lost to conservative, or quasi-conservative, Democrats in a Clintonian election strategy.

Pundits will say incumbent Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum lost because of his conservatism. Not true. Santorum is the same conservative who won a congressional election and two senatorial elections. No, it wasn't Santorum's conservatism; it was his perceived betrayal of conservatives. Santorum was instructed in 2004, by Rove, to campaign for an incumbent liberal Republican Senator against a conservative candidate in the primary (this liberal Republican did not return the favor by the way). This alienated a whole segment of Republican voters. They felt betrayed by Santorum. These voters refused to vote for him, proclaiming that Republicans needed to be taught a lesson about abusing their conservative base. Meanwhile, the Democrats nominated a quasi-conservative opposite Santorum.

Similarly, Rove miscalculated in Rhode Island where he backed the uber liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee in the primary instead of the more conservative candidate. Chafee is so liberal, he did not even vote for Bush in 2004. Republican voters in Rhode Island were less than enamored with the liberal Chafee's shenanigans. A Democrat was elected - a former state Attorney General who can claim conservative credentials because of his law enforcement background.

Some will say this is not true. They will say these losses are a referendum on Iraq. Not so. If this were true, how do they explain that - former Democrat, now Independent, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman - who is pro-war, and who lost his primary election to an antiwar candidate, was elected? How do they explain that antiwar candidates Linc Chafee and Marge Duckworth (albeit she is from Ohio) - a double amputee Iraqi war veteran - also were not elected.

No, Republicans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are weary of those they call RINO's (Republicans In Name Only). They want more conservative candidates. They also want honest candidates. One comment on a conservative Web site illustrates this, "This election was a refutation of Bush/Rove Rino policy - they had better think long and hard about supporting policies which are opposite of the core conservatives."

The Democrats understand this, which is why they anointed a retired military veteran to run opposite Curt Weldon for the district outside of Philadelphia. Weldon, is a conservative considered to be corrupt.

It is a mystery why Northeastern Republicans are reluctant to proffer conservative ideas. Yet, they need only realize that most of the Democrats who replaced Republican incumbents were conservatives. If one were to list statements on the issues by certain Republican candidates side by side with some Democrats, you would have a tough time telling who was the conservative and who was the liberal. Perhaps it is because the Northeastern Republican leadership is liberal. This is quite possible, considering the preponderance of liberal cultural institutions - books, newspapers, theaters - in the northeast. This is particularly true in the big cities.

The popular culture influences opinions. There are conservative books and newspapers springing up in the Northeast. Republicans just need to patronize them. Even Republicans needed to be educated or reminded of conservative thought. One cannot survive by Limbaugh alone. Maybe this election is a wake-up call for Northeastern Republicans. The Democrats have created their own monster. They succeeded in getting almost 20 conservatives elected to the House and Senate. Yet, the party leadership is extremely liberal. It will be interesting to see how these to factions will reconcile. Meanwhile, all those Republicans who voted for conservative Democrats better watch every vote of the Representative or Senator they helped elect.




Comments from Pat Toomey:

The war in Iraq, President Bush's sagging approval numbers, and a series of scandals are widely considered the major culprits behind Republican losses in the House and Senate yesterday. This analysis is correct, but is incomplete. Abandonment of the principle of limited government must be added to the litany of serious Republican missteps.

A poll commissioned by the Club for Growth in 15 key districts shows surprisingly severe damage to this aspect of the GOP brand (to see a summary of the results, see here). And it's little wonder. From the last Farm Bill to the Prescription Drug entitlement to McCain-Feingold to runaway spending, Republicans in Washington stopped being the party of limited government sometime ago. And the American people noticed.

Once they lost their less-government, fiscal-discipline branding, Washington Republicans lost a big reason for their majority status. The survey we conducted two nights before the election shows that voters in swing districts no longer believed that Republicans stood for limited government and fiscal discipline. And those same voters overwhelmingly threw the Republicans out of office, and with them their majority.

We surveyed 800 very likely voters across the 15 Republican-held districts we thought most likely to switch parties. We excluded those districts plagued by personal scandals. Since most of the fifteen seats did in fact switch from Republican to Democrat, clearly these were battleground districts.

We asked voters if they thought that, over the last four years, "the size and cost of the Federal Government has gone up, gone down, or stayed about the same?" Seventy-three percent recognized that it has gone up. And whom do you think they blame? We asked voters whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: "The Republican Party used to be the Party of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and limited government, but in recent years, too many Republicans in Washington have become just like the big spenders that they used to oppose." An amazing 66 percent of the respondents agreed with that statement.

We asked which party is doing a better job "eliminating wasteful spending." The Democrats led 39 percent to 25 percent. Which party is "the party of big government?" The Republicans, by an 11 point margin. All of this is a big part of the reason the Republican party lost. Republicans squandered one of the very few valuable brands it established in voters' minds over many years. And voters care about fiscal discipline and lower taxes.

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