Marginal Footnotes

Nagourney on the Billbray Victory
June 8, 2006, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Elections, Media, Midterm Elections, Politics, Uncategorized

Adam Nagourney has today expanded the Times' analysis on the Republican victory in CA-50, the seat Duke Cunningham, serial bribe-taker, was forced to vacate when he, you know, got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  I think Nagourney gets this one right.  A few quick points:

–Huge effort (financially and otherwise) by GOP at the national level to spark turnout couldn't put Billbray over 50 percent in a GOP stronghold.

–CA-50 is about as 'friendly' as it gets for the GOP and this was 'never a truly contested district'.  

–Despite all that, Busby took 45 percent of the vote, 15 percent over the number of registered Democrats in the district.

–The way the immigration issue unfolded in the campaign reveals deep internal divisions within the GOP over the issue.

The point is this wasn't a bellwether race because the dynamics of the district are unlike those where Republicans have less of a structural advantage, a less reliable pool of voters. In those districts, a discussion of the ethical misadventures of the GOP as a party is likely to play better.  Nevertheless, the lesson that ought to be taken from this isolated example is that, as always, elections will not turn on a single issue because voters are not monolithic entities. This means that Dean et al should continue to discuss pervasive corruption within the GOP, but they must equally emphasize meaningful policy distinctions.  On the one hand I have never accepted the argument that Democrats have no ideas. But on the other, it seems to me that Democrats typically have a problem with laundry-listing: health care, security, gas prices, etc. This approach is nearly always unpersuasive since it depends on a top-level, national program whereas, as the saying goes, most House races turn on local issues.  The trick is to localize national issues, not to nationalize local issues.


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