Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The GOP's Nightmare in Mississippi

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 250

As if warning sirens weren't already blaring at every level in the Republican party this year, last night's Democratic victory in a special election in Mississippi's first congressional district has sent the GOP into full-fledged Tsunami disaster mode.

I've been combing through a thesaurus this morning, searching for a single word that might do justice to the scale and impact of this defeat for the GOP. I'm coming up with some contenders, so far, but nothing that quite nails it:


After special elections earlier this year that saw Republicans go down to defeat in long-held districts in Illinois and Louisiana, last night's loss by Republican Greg Davis to Democrat Travis Childers was everything the GOP feared. The MS-01 is reckoned to favor Republicans by 10 points more than the country as a whole; that is, if a Republican would garner 60 percent of the vote nationally (and, yes, you can bet that is a big, fat hypothetical this year), then s/he would likely garner 70% in the MS-01. The seat had been in the Republican column since 1995. George W. Bush took the district with 62% of the vote in 2004. By every definition, the MS-01 should have been a safe Republican seat, this year, or any other.


Notwithstanding, Democrat Childers beat Republican Davis by an eight point margin, 54% to 46%. This in spite of the fact that both the state and national Republican party poured everything they had into this race: Vice President Cheney emerged from his undisclosed location to campaign for Davis the day before the vote; Republican governor and former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour stumped for Davis; so did conservative darling and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee; the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee John McCain recorded robocall messages for Davis, as did President Bush himself.


Not even an ad campaign seeking to identify Democrat Childers as Barack Obama in disguise - the supposed Republican trump card for the fall campaign - had an impact. Indeed, there is speculation that the ads may have spurred African-American Democrats to a larger than normal turnout.


The result is that the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives has further shifted in the favor of the Democratic party, which now holds 236 seats to the Republicans' 199. Of those 199 GOP seats, 25 will be open due to retirement of Republican incumbents, as opposed to just 7 open Democratic seats. And the Democrats' Congressional campaign organization has plenty of money to spend on House races in the fall, with more than $44 million cash on hand as of this past March 31. Their GOP counterparts, on the other hand, have about $7 million in the bank.


Republicans aren't even trying to spin this one:

"'Some people in the conference, to some extent, have been complacent to waking up to how badly the brand was damaged in 2006,' Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), a leader of a conservative coalition, said in a recent interview." (Washington Post)

"'The results in Miss.-01 should serve as a wake-up call to Republican candidates nationwide,' said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. 'As I’ve said before, this is a change election, and if we want Americans to vote for us, we have to convince them that we can fix Washington.'" (National Journal)

Republicans can fix Washington? With John "100 Years in Iraq Would be Fine with Me" McCain carrying the GOP standard in November? Good luck with that pitch, Congressman Boehner.


No comments:

Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites