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Why Republicans Remain Optimistic

by: Phillip Martin on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 14:14:49 PM CDT

Via Daily Kos, an article from The Hotline discusses why the Republicans strong GOTV campaigns is the reason Republican experts remain confident about maintaining control in the coming weeks:
In a month, the [Republican] party completed more than a million phone calls and door contacts conbined...

These are the numbers that motivate Karl Rove's optimism...Right now, a strong volunteer corps on election day working to turn out voters is the only hope they've got. If the volunteers detect a shred of defeatist cross-talk or come across a newspaper article suggesting that Rove is panicked, then they'll start to panic, too.

The point is that top-level Republican optimism is pragmatic, not ignorant.

The emphasis and reliance on GOTV was mentioned recently in one of Paul Burka's posts, "Worst Case Scenarios":
Back in the middle of the summer, the people who establish the conventional wisdom were saying that Democrats would pick up at least four legislative seats, and possibly as many as seven. I think it's more likely that several incumbents in both parties will be defeated, ending in a small gain for one party or the other. And I'm betting it will be the Republicans. They have more money than the Democrats, better organization, superior political talent at the consultant level, and much superior get-out-the-vote techniques. Texas needs two strong political parties, but the Democrats have a long way to go to hold up their end of the deal.
Burka also comments on national politics (and Rove's take on the national election scene) here and here, where he agrees that Democrats may not take back either the House or Senate.

Here are my own thoughts on the situation:

A Huge National Sweep is Entirely Unlikely

Congressional redistricting has allowed elected officials to choose their voters, lowering the emphasis on voters choosing their elected officials. In places where there is a tremendous candidate -- like in President Bush's home district, TX-17, where Democrat Chet Edwards is prepared to win re-election in three weeks -- it won't matter. But not everyone is Chet Edwards, here in Texas and across the country. Incumbency is an incredibly strong card to play, and it takes a trifecta of circumstance to overcome it: (1) an incredible candidate, (2) a national mood for change, and (3) the money to carry the candidate and the candidate's message for change to the voters.

Across the country, the national mood for change is there. But the stars haven't aligned on circumstances (1) and (3) in plenty of places. I know the polls point towards huge Democratic victories -- but polls also showed Senator Kerry defeating President Bush. Remember how you felt around 3:00pm on November 2, 2004? Remember how you felt at 3:00am on November 3, 2004?

For me, rooting for the Democrats will forever be like rooting for the Houston Astros: I'll be there, 100% in support, but there will always be doubt until I see some sustained deliverance. In fact, don't be surprised if this election looks a lot like the Astros (Democrats) and Cardinals (Republicans) at the end of this year's baseball season: Astros close the gap, look unstoppable...then botch it at the end by going back to their old weaknesses.

Would a National Sweep Help/Hurt the Democratic Party?

If the Democrats take back the House but can't take back the Senate, then in two years Republicans can point to Speaker Pelosi and say, "they didn't offer you anything" as the Republican Senate guts out any substantive Democratic bills. Think people won't notice? Remember, the shelf-life of political memory for most voters is never more than one election cycle...

If the Democrats take back the House and the Senate, they will still have a large number of moderate Democrats that can't support the broader, bolder ideas of the Democratic Party. That means that those moderates will either (1) vote with Speaker Pelsoi and lose in the 2008 General Election, thereby having the Democrats lose the House even if we win the Presidency, or (2) the moderates will force legislation to be entirely balanced/toothless by voting moderate-to-conservative in order to keep their seats, thus negating any real bolder change envisioned and promised by the Democratic Party.

In my honest opinion, it would be best for Democrats to draw within a close enough margin that they can pull over some Republican moderates on their side on good legislation, and thereby ultimately gutting the vision of the Republican leadership. I think that better sets up the Party to win back the Presidency, gain more seats in 2008, and then be able to gain some actual traction on the bolder vision we all want to see come true.

Political Science Can't Account for Current Passion

With the understanding of my previous points, I still believe there is something that both Karl Rove and Paul Burka (sorry to lump them together like that) ignore: political science always comes with an asterisk.

Political science courses, theories, and ideas only point to what worked in the past. However, if you study political history, you also know there's always an upset or exception. Is this the year for that exception? Is this the year that we write a new chapter in those political science textbooks? Maybe, maybe not. But if ever the time was right, it would seem that the time would have to be now.

If not, we're going to feel a lot like we did that morning of November 3, 2004 -- hungover, dumbfounded, and kicking ourselves for all the opportunities we missed.

Tags: National Politics, (All Tags)

Why Republicans Remain Optimistic | 9 comments | Time to post comments expired.
Burka's comment on Democratic "talent" is assinine (0.00 / 0)
If the GOP wins, it won't be because they have more talented consultants or organizers, it will be because they have more money to make their consultants and candidates look good.

A wad of cash allows one to correct misatkes and cover a multitude of sins -allows a skilled hand to try and explore different options and pick the best ones, then deliver the proper series of parallel, reinforcing contacts and messages to targeted voters, etc.

Mr. Burka, we Dem's have many people who know how to do what the R's do - and sometimes do thme better - and do things that work for us and not for them. And we often have to do it on a shoestring.

In the political business, the winners and the wealthier side is rarely as smart as it is perceived to be, and the losers and underfunded side is not usually as stupid as the finger-pointers will say.

When you get past how so much of that crap is consultant spin and promotional PR (someone has to fight over taking home the contributors largesse), there are factors way beyond the talent and skill of consultants and organizers that determine electoral trends, be they money or candidate skill or items springing from the real world around us. Those of us who work at this do our best to define the big picture and move the critical margins that can make the differnece between winning and losing, but when other events or redistricted lines or a 9-11 attack happen, electoral outcomes often about much more than talent alone. And sometimes, the course of events are such that the candidates and consultants who win even do so despite their lack of talent.

by: getreal @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 20:36:06 PM CDT
[ Reply ]
eh (5.00 / 1)
Enough of this "Lets not win, but come just close enough" bullshit. How about, we just friggin win the House and Senate and actually change the direction of the debate and the country and cut out any power that Bush has NOW then dicking around "coming close" for every cycle from now until eternity.

Yes, but what would Treaty Oak have to say about it?
by: Karl-Thomas Musselman @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 20:49:40 PM CDT
[ Reply ]
Well, you know what I say
You can't win if you don't fight.

Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.
by: boadicea @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 22:25:47 PM CDT
[ Parent ]
I'm kind of surprised by this post, Phil. Yeah, the GOP has us beat on fundraising, but to claim we don't have quality candidates? What about John Tester, Patrcia Madrid, Sherrod Brown, and Nick Lampson (just to name a few off the top of my head)? And we're going to claim that Tom Reynolds and Randy Graf are good candidates? What?

It's not a foregone conclusion we are going to win the House, but to buy Paul Burka's spin and suggest that it's unlikely just flies in the face of reality. And an attitude that not only defeat will be likely, but will be good for us, just isn't the best way to think about our side.

Thinking about the Democratic party in the abstract as a lovable loser baseball team is the surest path for us to be a permanent minority party.

by: Ryan Goodland @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 23:02:33 PM CDT
[ Parent ]
I want us to win, and I've said as much. But having read numerous posts on DailyKos of all places, and their cautious optimism, I thought it might be worth repeating some of what they've written.

Can we win? Of course we can. Will we win? I damn well hope.

And KT, you know I don't want to just "come close" for every cycle, so take a breather. Just trying to raise some points that, you know, every other person is talking about and foster some discussion. I can put the pom-poms down for two seconds and still be a good Democrat. Shocking, I know...

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

by: Phillip Martin @ Thu Oct 19, 2006 at 00:45:46 AM CDT
[ Parent ]
don't worry
My rant isn't directed at you, it's actually at some of the same thoughts expressed over there at Kosworld. For me, it's right up there with some of the "don't vote because your ballot will be stolen anyways" crowd.

I just don't see anymore benefit to hoping to "not win" so we have a "stronger hand" in a future election. I hear that every cycle.

Yes, but what would Treaty Oak have to say about it?

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman @ Thu Oct 19, 2006 at 01:17:33 AM CDT
[ Parent ]
I didn't say said "let's just come close" (0.00 / 0)
I just said the poutcome is not all about relative consultant talent and noted that other factors play a bigger role than Burka's crap about Republican consultants being so much smarter.

The fact is, most of the those still working for D's are in it for the right reasons and have fought in the trenches. Let's face it, our side i snot the path to riches. I've been fighting this fight for over 30 years and I've never given up because it's about so many things we believe in that impact so many people every day - people who will never read this blog.

And I never saw a boxer win without throwing a punch.

by: getreal @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 22:53:58 PM CDT
[ Reply ]
dumbfounded? (0.00 / 0)
It seems apparent that in order to ride the wind of the Perfect Storm, it is required one have their sails up.
Burka, was right on when he mentioned the GOP's corner on GOTV.
It's not about flash or looking big, it's ultimately about turning out the vote, but that's a thankless, low profile job that too few people want to do. It's just soooo un-glam.
I know this does not apply to everyone, but it is a Big problem. We fail over and over to turnout our base, never mind building it.
Races are won and lost on turnout.

Prisoner of hope.
by: comeon @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 23:02:13 PM CDT
[ Reply ]
I'm modestly optomistic (2.00 / 1)
I agree with the article to some extent.  I think we have modest chances of winning the house and/or senate, but I'm not counting on it.  We will definitly gain seats, and I think that most likely we will get close to winning the house or senate but not get all the way.  At the very least it will be so close that the GOP won't be able to push through it's agenda effectivly.

The GOP still has a lot of money to throw into last minute attack ads, scare tactics, and get out the vote drives.  It's a mistake to underestimate that.  I still think the best they can hope for is a modest lost, these last several months have just been a series of negatives for them.

Be modestly optimistic.  If you set your hopes to high, you will nearly always be disapointed.

by: Timothy @ Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 23:58:11 PM CDT
[ Reply ]
Why Republicans Remain Optimistic | 9 comments | Time to post comments expired.
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