The Washington Post collates the data on the latest Republican losses and scandals: Democrat Bill Foster’s win over Republican Jim Oberweis last week in the race to succeeded Denny Hastert (in a supposedly safe Republican district); recruiting failures in Senate races in Arkansas (where Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor will now be uncontested in November) and South Dakota; and an embezzlement scandal in the National Republican Congressional Committee. All that tops off some dreadful fundamentals for the GOP, which retiring Republican Rep. Tom Davis and analyst Stuart Rothenberg describe:
“It’s no mystery,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). “You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He’s just killed the Republican brand.”
Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan analyst of congressional politics, said: “The math is against them. The environment is against them. The money is against them. This is one of those cycles that if you’re a Republican strategist, you just want to go into the bomb shelter.”
In the face of all this, the Republican establishment keeps on doing what it’s been doing — and we can be sure it’s going to keep on losing. Bush is on the way out — and in his place the GOP regulars are giving us John McCain, who is worse than Bush in just about every way, particularly on the pressing issues of immigration (where Bush alienated the Right) and the war (where Bush alienated the country). In the House, most of the same cast of characters who who led the party to defeat in 2006, including minority leader John Boehner and minority whip Roy Blunt, are still in charge. In the Senate, the GOP looks set to lose several more seats this year, and there’s seems to be as much chance that the Democrats will emerge from 2008 with a filibuster-proof supermajority as there was that the Democrats would win control of the Senate in 2006. Everything would have to fall into place for the Dems to get a 60-seat supermajority; but the way the GOP is going, I’d say the Dems have about a 50 percent shot at it.
Establishment Republicans might take some comfort from national polls showing John McCain ahead of Barack Obama and narrowly behind Hillary Clinton and Pennsylvania and Ohio polls showing McCain beating either Democratic candidate. But that’s a false hope: the Republicans’ recent record in Pennsylvania, which they lost at the presidential level in ’04 and ’00 and at the gubernatorial and senate levels in ’06, suggests to me that when the rubber hits the road the state will stay blue, regardless of which Democrat wins the nomination. McCain’s margins in traditionally Republican Ohio (where the GOP has been in precipitous decline in recent years), meanwhile, shouldn’t reassure the GOP too much. If Ohio had flipped in 2004, Kerry would be president. It’s on the knife’s edge again this year, in a national and local climate far less favorable to Republicans.
On March 14, WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza looked at the ten states most likely to flip in the 2008 presidential election: only two of the top ten — New Hampshire and Minnesota — are blue states.
I hate to say it, because the Republicans certainly haven’t done anything to merit voting for them, but unitary Democratic government might be so bad that we’ll look back fondly on the days of unitary Republican government. I don’t say that lightly. But the Democrats aren’t likely to run a much less interventionist foreign policy; they’ll raise taxes; they’ll add to the coercive powers of unions through cardcheck legislation; they’ll not only keep abortion legal but also subsidize it out the taxpayers’ pockets; and they’ll pursue a whole host of other fundamentally wicked policies. And somehow I doubt we’ll be getting back any of the civil liberties we lost during the Bush years.
The silver lining in all of this is the hope that at some point the Republicans will be so desperate to survive that they’ll embrace the only element in the party that has real energy and momentum — the burgeoning movement of Ron Paul Republicans. Actually, I don’t think there’s any chance the Republicans will embrace the Ron Paul movement, but I think there’s a pretty good chance the Paul movement will reshape the party whether the regulars like it or not. That’s what it’s going to take to give the country an alternative to the welfare-warfare statism that keeps getting worse and worse. The Republicans as they’re now constituted provide no alternative at all, and they’re paying a price for it.