How the Republicans Might Win the Senate in November (And Why It Doesn’t Matter If They Don’t)

| September 27, 2010 | 1 Reply

Ron Radosh of Pajamas Media recently wrote one of those columns this week perfectly calibrated, possibly by a small horde of white-coated Nobel Prize-winning scientists, to irritate me. It begins with the headline, “Why Republicans Will Not Win the Senate”, that bull-rushed the reasoning centers of my brain and gave the hindermost portion of my grey matter a swift kick to the stem.

Will not? Will not?? Look, I can accept a lot of things from respectable political observers on the right — and I consider Radosh, a professor and prolific author, one — but crotchety defeatism is not one of them. Make no mistake, Radosh’s piece is chock full of cane shaking and cries “you kids get the hell off my lawn” dressed up in prettier words. What it is not full of are essential facts which, if included, would sink Radosh’s theory faster than a balsa wood Titanic in the North Sea during iceberg season.

Let me sum up Radosh’s argument in a couple short sentences:

If not for those cretins in the Tea Party movement, with their wack-a-doodle candidates (especially that Christine O’Donnell whelp), we’d be living on High Street right now. They’re ruining everything! I wish they’d sit down and let the people who have been around a while get back to running things in their nice, quiet fashion.

I have two responses to his column, one brief and one a bit longer. First, the brief response: Bollocks.

The longer response will get into poll numbers and things that Radosh has forgotten about recent history, so if you want to stop reading right now, you’ll have the gist of what I feel about his bitter carping. But I’d rather you read on, because the point I want to make is, I think, more important than any petty infighting between Tea Party upstarts and party greybeards. It is about power: how the GOP will — not won’t, not might, but will — have it in November and precisely what it will do with it.

First of all, let me say there is no way in the world that Radosh can say with any level of certainty that the GOP won’t win the Senate in November. Take a look at the RCP map which as of today, shows a 50-46 Democrat Senate with four tossups. Now, Radosh believes that one of those tossups (Angle in Nevada) will go Democrat, but there’s a bit of a flaw in his thinking. See, his evidence for believing that Angle will lose is that Reid, who was behind by quite a lot just a couple months ago, has narrowed the gap to even. However, the same thing is happening in New York, where the Democrat, Gillenbrand, has had her lead cut in half, not in months but in two weeks. If by Radosh’s logic Angle is likely to lose, then Joe DioGuardi is likely to win. You can also dig into the numbers of the various “leaning” races and see that the Republicans are only steadily losing ground in a couple of races. The numbers are, right now, on the GOP’s side.

But the bigger issue is the one Radosh misses entirely. There is a reason we’re even talking about a possible GOP takeover of both houses of Congress right now. It’s called the Tea Party movement. Remember where we were just 18 months ago. The GOP was dispirited and there was serious talk about settling in for an extended stretch in the minority. Democrats were doing a victory dance with unassailable majorities in both the House and Senate. Michael Steele, Chair of the RNC, told young black men that the party had nothing for them. John Cornyn, head of the RNSC endorsed not a moderate “center-right” candidate (as Radosh would have you believe the GOP has always wanted), but a borderline left-winger in Charlie Crist, who proudly hugged Barack Obama over the Vote Buying Act Stimulus Bill and was pushing cap and trade in his own state. The party itself was practically begging for candidates chosen not for their stands on issues important to Republicans or to America herself but based on their ability to fund their own campaigns. Arlen Specter defected after a bitter stretch of votes during which he stabbed his own party in the kidneys several times (and let us recall that the GOP establishment is the reason Specter was there to defect in the first place). There was no hope. None.

But then came the Tea Parties, with enthusiasm, stubbornness, and tens of thousands of small donations to choice candidates in key races. And, slowly but surely, their candidates started knocking off the wealthy establishment placeholders who were not solid center-right statesmen as Radosh would have you believe but middle of the road, stand-for-nothing-important politicians interested in far different things than the electorate. At the same time, Tea Party backing of Republican leadership in Congess helped provide enough of a backbone for them to dig in their heels and resist the Democrats’ various totalitarian government programs. To be sure, those programs passed — how could they not pass with such majorities — but the principle sand taken by the Republicans which forced the Democrats to reveal themselves as a bunch of bully partisans were poison at the polls. Soon, people started talking about how the Republicans might possibly not get soaked in November. Then, as the Tea Parties grew to numbers too great for the MSM to ignore or easily dismiss (though goodness knows they still try), the talk turned to how the Republicans might win the House and could turn the Senate from a Democratic veto-proof majority to a much more even affair.

Now, august political experts like Radosh are talking about the possibility of a GOP takeover of the Senate. Do you see how the Tea Parties — not the Republican party, not Michael Steele, not John Cornyn, and not Ron Radosh — accomplished such an amazing turnabout in the polls and the national discussion? So Radosh points to Christine O’Donnell who, to be sure, is far from the ideal candidate and  is far behind when Mike Castle might well be ahead. What he doesn’t say is that in less than a week, despite nearly overwhelming MSM and GOP opposition, O’Donnell has raised almost 2 million dollars. I certainly don’t have to tell you how many positive ads for O’Donnell that can buy in the few weeks before November 2. I also don’t need to tell you how heavy a weight those ads can swing right before an election. Even so, O’Donnell might lose and the Republicans might not take the Senate. Would that be such a horrible thing, given where the party was not even two years ago? I have a hard time believing that Radosh would trade the amazing political turnaround we’ve seen since January, 2009 for one Mike Castle. Even he, scowl though he will at the Tea Parties, would not throw away the candidates the Tea Parties have put in excellent positions to win, candidates like Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Roy Blunt, Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Joe Miller, and Ken Buck, just to keep one barely-Republican Mike Castle.

I suggest that Mr. Radosh spend a little time talking to a few Tea Party folks. It’s obvious he doesn’t know what we want but perhaps if he had dinner with a couple of us he might find himself willing to wear a Gasden Flag t-shirt once in a while. Okay, he might not go that far, but if he got to the point where he didn’t think of us as riotous cretins, I’d consider it a win.

UPDATE: Stacy McCain adds a point in a separate blog post I hadn’t considered. In the last few elections, the polls trended left while reality trended right. Guess where that little trend could put all those “Lean Democrat” races?

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Category: Political Pontifications

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