GOP Not as Dead as Advertised

My latest column for the American Issues Project focuses on a surprising phenomenon: while the mainstream media keeps asking how the GOP needs to change to survive, Republican candidates are leading in a host of races around the country. In fact, if you set aside for a moment the unified Democratic control in Washington (admittedly, a heavy lift) you might think it was the Democratic party that was on the ropes.

Senate races in Illinois and Delaware are likely to be watched especially closely, since those seats were formerly held by the President and Vice President. In Illinois, Congressman Mark Kirk is eyeing the race, and is seen as one of the GOP’s strongest statewide contenders in years. In Delaware, Republican Congressman Mike Castle has a significant lead in polls over Joe Biden’s son, Beau. If either of these challengers prevails, it will represent a stunning shift to the right for either state. The fact that both states seem prepared to reject the liberal legacies of Obama and Biden is shocking…

And in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maryland, liberal incumbents face strong headwinds in their reelection bids. David Paterson in New York is unlikely to win re-nomination, which would actually make a liberal win more likely. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is in a dead heat with challenger John Kasich in the most recent survey. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter trails potential challenger Scott McInnis by 48%-41%, and receives poor grades overall from residents of the state. Deval Patrick too, trails his likely GOP challenger, Christy Mihos, by 41%-40%. In Maryland, Governor O’Malley already has one announced conservative opponent, and could face a challenge from former Governor Bob Ehrlich. O’Malley’s record of tax increases and spending cuts may have left him vulnerable.

It seems to me that the proper question to ask is, if Barack Obama is so popular and Republicans are so unpopular, why are so many Democrat candidates in deep trouble? The answer is that voters in 2006 and 2008 rejected Republicans who had reneged on their promises to limit government, and to make it work more effectively for taxpayers. Barack Obama promised to make government more effective – and to reduce the overall level of spending. It’s clear that voters have already soured on Obama’s agenda (if not on him personally) and are prepared to dump Democrat candidates – as long as they believe Republicans are prepared to bring the sort of change they want.