Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election analysis, briefly told

Why the Republicans lost so many races in so many states is the topic of the day for pundits, bloggers and Happy Hour wags. OK, I’ll play.

Reason No. 1: Iraq

Since Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has already been pushed aside, it’s obvious President George Bush could see the effect the war in Iraq -- the Mother of All Quagmires -- had on the midterm elections this year. So somebody had to take the fall, because Iraq stands as the most glaring and expensive failure of the Bush administration.

Reason No. 2: Hurricane Katrina

To me, the utter failure of Bush’s Homeland Security Dept. to prepare for, or deal with, the disaster in New Orleans and the rest of the stricken Gulf area was the tipping point for many independent-minded voters. And, it energized Democrats in a way the war issue had not at that point.

Reason No. 3: Scandals

The Republicans didn’t invent corruption. But too much is too much. Names such as Jack Abramoff, Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Robert Ney, Ralph Reed, and so forth, probably did more to hurt the prospects of Republicans yesterday than anybody speaking for the GOP today will admit.

Of course there were other reasons and there were specific reasons that applied to particular races. Still, I think the impact of the three main reasons above came to bear on most if not all of the congressional contests.

In Virginia, as much as I applaud Jim Webb’s apparent victory, I have to say that George Allen did more to hurt himself than anything anyone opposing him did. History will probably say Allen was the first thought-to-be-invincible politician to defeated by the Internet, by way of the famous “Macaca” YouTube video.

Then, once Allen’s gaffes let his rather politically inexperienced opponent into the race, Webb swelled up and managed to make himself into a better campaigner than a lot of people had thought he could.


Update: On Wednesday evening the Associated Press and other news agencies declared Webb to be the winner. Click here to read the Washington Post’s coverage.

“Democrat Jim Webb won Virginia's pivotal Senate race Wednesday, unseating Republican George Allen and giving the Democrats total control of Congress for the first time in 12 years.”

Art by F.T. Rea. Click here to see about getting a souvenir T-shirt with the above image on it.

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