…because it’s shiny, and I have nothing else to do. Also, this post will be written to the sweet, sweet strains of the Halo 3 soundtrack. Leah, I know you read this, so go look it up. Marty O’Donnell is a really cool modern composer.
Okay, let’s start with the basics. In 2008, we had an electorate that was SO COMPLETELY SICK of George W. Bush. We had a GOP candidate whose most effective campaign tactic seemed to be the Clint Eastwood Stare.
We also owned 23 of the 35 seats up for election in the Senate. Ordinarily, that translates to an advantage, because incumbency is not necessarily a bad thing in an election. Furthermore, sitting Senators have a built-in fundraising advantage, because they’ve proven they can win. People don’t like to back potential losers; and incumbency is a powerful motivator for the mega-donors.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Maverick, from Top Gun, would call this a “target-rich environment.” When you have too many incumbents, there is only so much money that can be raised — and since they’re all good fundraisers, they tend to suck the money out of each other. Survival instinct guides most of these people, so the competition for campaign funds can be brutal, to say the least.
Now, when you combine that with the inevitable money-crunch when wealthy donors bail for the opposition (because it looks like they’re gonna win…), you wind up with a lot of incumbents who can’t raise enough money. That was the case for some of the losers in 2008, but not many. The person with the biggest fundraising problems?
We had 23 highly effective fundraisers and the RNC, all working their minds out to fundraise a war-chest in record time, against the headwinds of a shifting electorate and a terrible candidate, and it simply could not be done.
In 2012, Democrats own 23 of 33 Senate seats up for re-election. The dynamics are sure to change between now and then — whether it becomes better or worse for Democrats will be of great interest to me. Political science says it should swing back toward the Democrats — but then, political science said that the electorate should have swung back after 2006 as well. The fact that it did not, suggests that waves are built in this fashion — a preparatory wave, of sorts, and then a titanic wave in which sure-fire winners are taken out with the tide (see Stevens, Ted).
If this is a building wave, and the 23 Senators up for election prove to be a liability, the incumbent President will be competing with them for cash. Now he is a much better campaigner than McCain. But for the first time in his career, he will be limited by his record. For all his vaunted salesmanship, he hasn’t ever been forced to sell something other than himself. This is a weakness that I am not sure he can overcome in two years.
And here are the senators who will prove to be a liability:
- Bill Nelson, Florida
- Claire McCaskill, Missouri
- Ben Nelson, Nebraska
- Kent Conrad, North Dakota
- Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania
- And if he runs at all, Boots Webb of Virginia.
Okay, to be fair, there are some Republican senators unlikely to win re-election as well.
- Scott Brown, of Massganistan.
And of the Republican incumbents, there are several that are sure to receive primary challenges:
- John Ensign, because he’s weak
- Bob Corker, because he’s a porker
- Olympia Snowe, ’nuff said
- And my own personal target, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. More on this race in a different post; let’s just start calling her the Charlie Crist of 2012. And yes, there is a Rubio figure to vanquish the undesirable.
All of the above aside, try being a Democrat and winning without Florida and Pennsylvania. Just try. I’ll even spot you Ohio. The math doesn’t work, and especially not after redistricting. Speaking of which, Republicans are due for another 20 pickups, just from redistricting. That’s without any changes at all, this map, this electorate, 20 more seats in the House. For doing nothing.
Again, that’s another blog post entirely, but it’s worth noting here.
Republicans are going to play their part to the hilt. Soon-to-be Speaker Boehner is going to force the House to vote on destroying/dismantling/defunding Obamacare, in an attempt to make the next election a referendum on that legislation (and others, but mostly that). This kicks the ball to the Senate, where if Mitch McConnell has a brain and the means to use it, he will use parliamentary procedure and the virtually invincible arch-conservative Jim DeMint to force votes on that legislation. This will force the Senate Democrats (especially those up for re-election) to choose between their own electoral fortunes, and protecting the President from having to veto legislation that most of America wants passed.
In a political equation where a politician must choose between himself and anything else, a politician will almost always choose himself. This means that either Harry Reid is going to take it on the chin (meaning split his caucus, rendering himself an ineffective Majority Leader), or actually force the President to make unpopular vetoes.
Or, in the Liberal Armageddon scenario, the President will actually sign this legislation. That will depress his base even further than it already is, and only God or the Kennedys can help him then.
And we’re all out of Kennedys.
Of course, real victory for the conservatives depends entirely on whether we nominate a serious candidate. That, mi amici, is where this whole story arc is headed. So here’s the menu for my next few blog posts:
- Kay Bailey Hutchincrist, and why she should be smoked in the primary (and by whom!)
- How conservatives can take 20 more House seats through redistricting (lots of links from smarter people on this one)
- Presidential candidates, through the long lens. And I mean, really long lens.
It’s gonna be more fun than a zombie-clown shooting gallery. I leave you with this, as foreshadowing of my next post. He wears bow-ties, Dad. You’ll love this guy.