GOP Momentum: Regional or National?

HOWARD MEGDAL: Color me a skeptic about the GOP wave, doubts only reinforced by this poll showing GOP strength in midterms to largely be a function of extremely strong showings in the South- the one place they have limited opportunities to make House/Senate gains.
The wave that is supposedly sweeping the country, meanwhile, keeps limiting itself to places where Republicans run unusually good campaigns and/or Democrats run unusually poor ones. Massachusetts Senate, for instance, involved a comically poor Democrat. Same with VA governor and NJ governor- the latter, Jon Corzine, trailed Chris Christie by more when Obama’s approval stood at 65% in the spring of 2009 than he did in the final tally.
It was no different in NY-23, NY-20 or PA-12. All three are conservative districts, either packed with the conservadems who are supposedly fleeing the party, or in the two NY seats, the districts have overwhelmingly been represented by Republicans. (I have one name for you in NY-20: Gerald B.H. Solomon.)
A look at where the GOP is putting its markers should tell you plenty about the limits of this wave. The RCCC has reserved ad time in 40 seats: the DCCC in 60, and much more money per district.
Are Republicans playing on Democratic turf? Naturally, Dems hold a huge majority and most of the contested seats have gone Democratic in 2006 and 2008.
In both of those elections, Democrats did a tremendous job of both nationalizing the elections, and running good local campaigns. In places where they didn’t, they still lost. Ask William Jefferson down in Louisiana if you don’t believe me.
Considering that Republicans have yet to successfully do either of these things when only a few seats were at stake, color me skeptical, like I said, that they’ll be able to do it with dozens or more.

ALLISON REILLY: Speaking from Missouri, I don’t think this state or the Midwest is going to go Democratic anytime soon. Looking at the statistics from the poll Howard cites, it could be argued that the West and the Midwest came up stronger on the Dems side because of the large cities. I know for Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City run blue, and that’s it. Illinois has Chicago, overshadowing the fact that everywhere else in Illinois is rural and largely Republican.

There are also the mountain states: Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho etc. that are strong Red states. A Gallup poll shows that these states are solidly identified as Republican. The South is shown in this poll to be more competitive in terms of party identification, with exception to Alabama and South Carolina. The findings of this poll could swing either way, as the fact that more states are competitive could mean that the GOP is becoming regional or that the GOP is eroding where the Dems used to be really strong. If it means they are becoming regional, it’s not in the South but in the Mountain states. If it means the GOP is gaining strength, then the party is a national movement after all.

I grant that party identification does not necessarily translate to votes in the midterm elections, but I don’t believe many voters are going to abandon the party ship. It’s been argued that voters want change and incumbents are in trouble. But 98% of incumbents win reelection. That’s been the case for a long long time. I don’t see a substantial switch, if any switch at all, in party victories in November.

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