Stakes

I’ve heard a couple people say what Captain Ed says here, and thought I’d take a moment to debate it.

I expect that the Democrats will get 30-35 votes in favor of a filibuster once Alito gets out of committee. … They also won’t want to fight over obstructionism again during the next cycle, or the Democrats might well lose more Senate seats in the midterms.

Commentators like Hugh Hewitt have long maintained that Republicans won their Senate majority on the issue of Democrats obstructing Bush judicial nominees. They forget that those races were winnable because they took place in states Bush 1)carried and 2)was popular. In fact, with the fluke exception of Minnesota (Republican Norm Coleman trailed in polls until incumbent Dem Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash), since 2000 Republicans have not won any seats in “blue” states. They’ve actually lost five of them (obviously made up for with gains elsewhere) – Washington, Minnesota, Delaware, Michigan, and Illinois.

Now, add to this the battleground for the 2006 elections. As leading journalists have written, the GOP has bungled its recruitment in red states. By most analyses, their best pick-up opportunities are now in three open seats. They are Minnesota (Kerry by 3.5%), New Jersey (Kerry by 7%), and Maryland (Kerry by 13%). In other words, for the GOP to make gains in 2006, they need to win in blue states, where campaigns on the “my opponent won’t vote for George Bush’s judges” theme would probably backfire badly.

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