Skip to comments.The Lay of the Land(Report likely to disappoint those who believe the nation took left turn in 06)
Posted on 05/16/2007 4:06:06 PM PDT by RWR8189
A NEW REPORT from the centrist group Third Way complicates one's understanding of the 2006 midterm elections. There are already several competing theories of why last Election Day turned out the way it did. The storyline popular on liberal blogs is that in 2006 Democrats were true to liberal principles, fought back against the Bush machine, opposed the war in Iraq, and as a result the electorate woke up and took Congress away from the GOP.
Another storyline that's popular among conservatives says Republicans lost control of both Houses for the first time since 1994 because the party strayed from the true Reaganite path and forgot its small-government principles. And a third storyline is that the unpopularity of the Iraq war, the corruption of the GOP Congress, and the vanishing credibility of President Bush all combined to produce narrow Democratic majorities in the House (233 to 202) and Senate (51 to 49).
That's about how things look to Jim Kessler, Anne Kim, and Mark Donnell, who wrote Looking Red, Voting Blue: An Analysis of the 2006 Election. They took the National Exit Poll surveys for 2004 and 2006 and "normalized" the results so that turnout was the same in both years. What they discovered will probably disappoint those who argue that the electorate took a sharp left turn in 2006. According to the report, the reason the Democrats took Congress in 2006 wasn't because they had "energized the base." Nor was it because the American electorate embraced their center-left policy agenda. It was because typically Republican voters wanted change.
The authors found that between 2004 and 2006 the Democrats gained 4.7 million votes. If you take a look at the demographic profile of these new Democrats, you see that--all things being equal--they ought to be Republicans. Almost all of them are men. All of them are married. Most are white and live in households making more than $100,000 a year. The Third Way researchers also found that close to 3 million new Democratic votes came from people who attend church at least once a week.
In 2006 all things were not equal, however. The study finds that these new Democratic voters had three things on their minds: Iraq, corruption, and Bush. The share of voters who disapproved of the Iraq war went from 46.2 percent in 2004 to a majority 56.6 percent in 2006. All these new antiwar votes went Democratic. Of the 74 percent of voters in 2006 who said corruption was "extremely" or "very" important in deciding for whom to vote, 56.5 percent voted for Democrats and 43.5 voted for Republicans. And Bush's drag on the GOP is no secret. According to the Third Way study, the number of voters who said they disapproved of the president increased by 8 million between 2004 and 2006.
One storyline from 2006 that ought to be put to rest is that economic instability or the "Great Risk Shift" produced Democratic gains. This is the sort of thing that neopopulists like Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and James Webb of Virginia like to bring up. The problem is that it doesn't comport with reality. A recent Congressional Budget Office study found that income volatility has remained more or less the same since the Reagan presidency. And the Third Way report concludes that most of the Democratic gains in 2006 came from well-off voters who in general felt positive about the economy. The electorate may not have as great an appetite for Democratic policies on taxes, trade, entitlements, and health care as the neopopulists like to imagine.
As the authors of the Third Way report note, these results ought to give pause to those in the political class who have all but guaranteed a Democratic victory in 2008. The reason for this is that two of the three things on voters' minds in 2006 won't be a factor in 2008. The GOP congressmen implicated in the "culture of corruption" have all been voted out of office. If congressional corruption is an issue, it will be a Democratic Congress that takes the blame. And neither George W. Bush nor Vice President Richard Cheney will be on the ballot.
That leaves Iraq. If the voters in 2006 wanted a change in Bush's policy, they got it. The political market is efficient. Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld, chose a new commander in Gen. David Petraeus, and rejected the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey war strategy of force protection, Iraqification, and counterterrorism in favor of Petraeus's counterinsurgency approach.
The Petraeus strategy has barely been implemented--today only four out of five additional combat brigades are in theater--but already Democrats are calling for a return to the old strategy, or a drastic reduction in American forces, or cutting off funding for the war altogether. Bush and Congress will continue to fight over war policy throughout the 2008 election cycle. No one knows what twists and turns are ahead. We do know, however, that the terms of the Iraq debate on Election Day 2008 will not be the same as those on Election Day 2006.
This could mean even more Republicans will cross the aisle and vote Democratic. But there's a chance--just a chance--that the Republicans who left the GOP in 2006 will have reason to return to the fold.
Matthew Continetti is associate editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD and author of The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine.
I still think an analysis ought to account for staying home because Bush will not seal the border crowd.
I still believe that is the fundamental reason that Republicans lost.
“But there’s a chance—just a chance—that the Republicans who left the GOP in 2006 will have reason to return to the fold.”
If Repubs run anyone but Fred Thompson for president, there’s no reason for anyone returning to the fold.
You can warn the DBM/dems til you're blue in the face, it still won't change their arrogant stupidity!
That's what we all called a rather "friendly" , and "incredibly gymnastic" young lady who worked as a school teacher near Ft. Sill in the '60s.
....and GW/'Rats, just shot, themselves in the foot....big time/pushin' the so-called "Wetback Amnesty Bill"
The 'drunk sailor syndrome' was referenced under corruption. Sure, you can separate the two, but more often than not they go together, so I'm certainly willing to combine them.
They don't mention the illegal alien crisis because, much though we might wish it otherwise, it was pretty much a non-event as far as voting in '06 went.
Baloney. There are plenty of reasons to vote Republican, no matter who gets the nomination.
If Fred Thompson enters this race, and he will, the libs of both parties better look out. Most of the people want a sane, rational adult, not some untrustworthy liberal freak.
On election day I went to the polls, as I always have, and voted straight GOP, but I know some that were just fed up with the total lack of testicles that was demonstrated by the MAJORITY GOP. I agreed with them but I couldn't set back and let the RATS have the majority.
We, as a party, had better come up with another "contract with America" that has some teeth or we are dead. I don't think that HRC (the ODB) can win but unless we can get back those people that voted for the "Contract" back in '94 we can kiss the majority good bye until we do figure it out.
Matthew Continetti takes a huge leap in his comments on Lay of the Land and the Great Shift Risk. Trying to cover up the war is like trying to hide a gorilla in the closet!!! Cmon Matthew, you dont expect readers to believe this! But then again, the right has conditioned its followers to believe just about anything that supports its principles. And what a huge following the ‘right’ has by all the hate mail!!
I believe it is most important to understand that the traditional Republicans who have rallied against guns and gays and abortion are finding that their emperor truly has no clothes as he parades under the mantra of his missions accomplished.
And perhaps the best example of the shift can be found right here in Virginia. Webb offered Virginians a substantive set of qualifications. He was a Marine combat infantry veteran, Annapolis Grad, Georgetown University Law grad, former Secretary of the Navy, and author of seven books. He also noticed that 10 percent of Virginians lived in poverty, and wanted to do something about that. The substance of Sen. Allen was that he was a 54-year old redneck, pork chompin, tobacco chewing, cowboy from Orange County (California!!). Allens principal credential was that he was George Bushs lapdog!!! And given the choice of substance over lapdog albeit Allens strong allegiance to God, the flag, and all things good, and his opposition to gays and all things evil, Webb won.
Notwithstanding Continettis thesis that this was a one-time deal, I believe that Americans, like Virginians, will realize that they have been taken for a ride .and the ride comes to a dead-halt in 2008.
As an aside, I believe that another major Webb contribution during the election of 2006 was that he was one of the first in the Nation to call for regional diplomacy to end the war heresy last year. And where is Secretary Rice spending her time these days?? Shes shuttling all over the Middle East something we should have done in the first place in 2003. And Webb was telling the nation in 2002 that the huge cultural differences throughout the Middle East would marginalize any war efforts that we might undertake.
He has also introduced legislation that will provide meaningful financial assistance to Iraq war veterans so they can get a college education. That legislation is one of the most decent things that our Nation can offer the men and women who have put their lives on the line. Not only is it decent, it is economic in helping to spare veterans and their families some of the post-traumas of war when they can get an education and work in mainstream society. The “Lay of the Land” is in the eyes of the beholder...and it is time for the ‘right’ to come to its senses!!!!
The Republican Party has taken a left turn, that’s for sure.