A Closer Look At The 2005 Election
Like many I at first became intoxicated at the mainstream media and other analysis of the 2005 election. But now that the dust has settled and better statistics and information is available for anaylsis, my view has sobered considerably. Rather than an earthshaking change of landslide proportions, in Virginia for example, some normally Republican voters in key Republican stronghood areas such as Virgina Beach merely failed to turnout and vote in their normally high numbers.
Many Democrats felt a false but renewed sense of energy, falsely sensing that the declining popular support for George Bush, anger over Iraq, and distrust generated by questions of Bush character and honesty, as well as lingering questions due to issues with White House scandal, Harriet Miersgate, Tom Delay and Bill Frist was all that was needed for a wholesale political change in America from the Republicans to the Democrats. But of course, this did not really happen.
All races were pretty much decided by local politics and political figures. And while some negative shadows from the national Republican leadership did taint the local Republicans somewhat, those that failed managed to bring the problems on themselves by inviting White House support as though this "kiss of death" was really needed, or by appearing unduly nasty, inviting voters to make an unfortunate comparison with the worst vindicitive factors associated with Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or "Scooter" Libbygate.
An honest evaluation of Virginia really pointed out that the Republicans were actually able to win two of three statewide offices, although by frailer margins than normal mainly due to low Republican voter turnout. And taken with the results in the New Jersey Governor's race, the net sum of Tuesday's vote was that Democrats actually did not lose any further ground, and merely were only able to maintain their status quo. And Republicans suffered some voter erosion, but solely because normally Republican voters felt less moltivated to vote for a wide range of reasons.
Will 2006 be a bad year for Republicans? That's not a given as well. Republicans and conservatives have well proven several things, that they are far better organized with "conservative" talk radio, political Blogs and with "get out the vote efforts". Democrats need to drasticly improve all three factors, especially the critical "get out the vote" efforts to hold a real opportunity in 2006.
Incumbency is always an advantage. If many Republican candidates are incumbents, then they are in good position like most incumbents. Local issues generally trump national ones for local races, being an incumbent is generally a good thing.
There is always the "X" factor that could benefit Republican chances. By any honest calculation, worldwide terrorism is worsening. And this is still the one issue that Republicans are able to maintain strong command over. In Britain, Winston Churchill was widely viewed as absolutely rotten for the interests of working people, yet was able to capture election of his party year after year, propelled by external threat to England fears from voters. Likewise Republicans are viewed by many as generally rotten for the interests of working people, yet are seen as far more rotten against any threat to America with a "shoot first, ask questions later" manner of dealing with terrorism. With all likelyhood of increased terrorism in 2006, with most events in the MidEast, any major event against a major U.S. ally or more directly affecting American interests could create a fear related rally to once again boost GOP chances in 2006. To be seen as a "hanging judge" does not benefit Bush if local issues are the main campaign issues in 2006. But if America or key allies are seen as terrorism targets in 2006, then to be seen as a "hanging judge" does benefit Bush for sure. Insensitivity is only a political asset if a nation is under perceived attack, and a key asset in that instance.
Is 2006 going to be a rough year for Republicans? Maybe not. Democrats need far better organization and "get out the vote efforts". Many religious persons have aligned their votes with Republicans with no counter religious movement to get religion out of politics and back to faith and directly church-related activity. And worldwide terrorism is a mystery "X" factor that makes even the most unsavory politician suddenly palatable if they are seen as tough in responding to terrorism while their opponent is seen as weaker in their response. 2006 will be an interesting year, but my personal fear is that the "X" factor may negate many issues and become a dominate election deciding factor. Terrorists often tend to time their attacks to undermine political or other efforts far more than is realized. Al Qaeda, while a small organization is certainly self-absorbed in their own power to force a shocked reaction from larger government targets and opponents. And this makes any major election an attractive target to Al Qaeda to create a shock reaction potential. This could easily toss all political issues out the window and dominate an election very easily.