Trailing Indicators

Tuesday was a bad night for us. But it was also a bad night for Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint, whose strategy of running increasingly controversial and socially far-right candidates — with the exception of, say, Rand Paul — failed to pay dividends in key races.

Nevertheless, it’s alarming that some of those candidates did well at all. People like Sharron Angle should never come so close to having an influence on anything at all. But the same can be said for Jim DeMint’s bizarre opponent, Alvin Greene. Despite being indicted for a sex crime, Greene won 360,000 votes to DeMint’s 780,000. With third parties, Democrats in South Carolina scored 500,000 votes: not enough to make a meaningful difference, of course, but enough to demonstrate that a sizable portion of South Carolinians will vote for anyone but DeMint. With another candidate, and in another year, things could be very different indeed. And that is an encouraging thought.



  1. My favorite Ames’ comment from 2008:

    “The Republican brand is shattered”

    You’re losing your credibilitty Ames. The Tea Party picked up 39 seats in the House. That’s 72% of the new Congressional majority. They took 35 of those seats from incumbent Democrats.

    My advice to you would be to stop trying to look for ways to minimize the impact of Palin and the Tea Party and start trying to figure out why the American public rejected your party so quickly. After you do that, try to figure out what you are going to do over the next 2 years. You might also want to send Pelosi some flowers.

  2. I mean, not predicting elections doesn’t mean you’re losing credibility. But, I do think it’s unwise for anyone to say the other party is out of the race. Every time we’ve had an election people start predicting an unending majority.

    I mean, I find it difficult right now how to talk about the elections, as a Democrat, not sounding sore loserish anything, but Republicans shouldn’t read as much into this as people like you are trying to. As I’ve said before, Democrats still hold slight favor in approval ratings in Congress. I still say this election was a referendum on the economy and incumbents , who were mostly Democrats. Republicans still have plenty of internal problems, and I still haven’t seen many solutions to present issues yet. Particularly the tea party candidates. Rand Paul doesn’t have many ideas of what to do with things, but plenty of ideas of what not to do. And as I’ve said before, economy is the number one priority of Americans.

    So, using the new House majority, go for it. Let’s see what they can do before people get too smug. Let’s see the next round of people get nothing done as well because it will be even harder now. It’ll be a fun merry go round of stalemates during a time of challenging economic problems.

    And this has been said frequently but:

    p.s. Greene almost got the same number of votes as Reid :(

    1. I’m not making any predictions about what this means for 2012. All I am saying is that the TP did amazingly well for such a young movement. And of course I disagree 100% with Ames’ attempts to downplay this.

      The next two years will be very interesting and a year from now we’ll have a good idea of what the presidential field will look like. That will tell us a lot.

  3. I would also add, before Ames spends too long on this narrative, he might want o look here:

  4. Interesting map, but it needs a little more analysis than just looking at the overall numbers – not all districs are made equally, after all.

    Mostly looking at the House races here, and not at candidates that failed the primary (and recent redistricting makes some of the points uncertain):

    One interesting thing to note is that Palin has endorsed very few ‘solidly Republican’ seats, that is Republican incumbents that could be expected to win. The only three I could identify are MN-6 (Michele Bachmann), SC-1 and WA-5. There are also only two swing district endorsements (those that have been neither solidly R or D over the last couple of decades), NY-2 and UT-2, both of which by the way failed.

    One of the remaining two categories of candidates are those in districts that used to be solidly Republican, but went to the Democrats in ’06 or ’08, and thus could be expected to switch back this year. And the other is those running in solidly Democratic districts, either against a long time incumbent or the ‘successor’ of one.

    Going into the analysis, I expected that most of the endorsements would be of the first ‘used to be GOP’ type, but surprisingly enough there were actually more of the second ‘long-time Democratic challengers’. Futhermore, almost all except possibly one (redistricting makes this a bit hard to tell) of the first type won the election, while precisely 50% of the second type won.

    So if we can say anything about Palin’s endorsement choices from this, it would be that she hasn’t played it safe by supporting established candidates, she’s been excellent at identifying formerly GOP seats that would switch back, and not too bad either at identifying vulnerable long-time Democrats.

    For the record, these are the different categories:

    – Safely GOP (Won): MN-6, SC-1, WA-5

    – Swing (Lost): NY-2, UT-2

    – Going back to GOP (Won): AL-2, AZ-1, FL-22, FL-24, IL-11, IL-14, NY-13, MS-1

    – Going back to GOP (Lost): IN-2 (I think – bloody redistricting again)

    – Against long-time Democrats (Won): FL-2, MI-1, MO-4, NC-2, TN-6, TN-8, WI-7

    – Against long-time Democrats (Lost): AZ-4, AZ-7, CA-37, MA-4, MI-2, PA-12, TX-30

    Finally, one last very interesting thing is that – again if these endorsements are an indication – the Tea Party is very much a Southern and Midwestern movement. The vast majority of her candidates are in those regions, and at least by the Post’s definitions, of those few west of the Mississippi, none with “Tea Party ties” got elected, while those two that were are “Establishment”. And with the exception of Tim Burns in PA-12, it’s exactly the same in the Northeast.

    And then I’ll leave off with one final-final point: All else being equal, John Miller in Alaska is a serious defeat for Palin. Not getting her candidate getting elected in her own home state? That’s not good at all.

    1. Just to qualify that last statement, of course the election in Alaska isn’t over yet. But it won’t be a particularly impressive victory even if Miller should win.

    2. “Not getting her candidate getting elected in her own home state? That’s not good at all.”

      Is that sort of like Al Gore not carrying Tennessee in 2000?

      (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

      1. I’d actually say Gore in Tennessee was even worse – but for the sake of the comparison: How much political influence does Gore have these days? Not a whole lot. Just like Palin won’t in just a few years.

        1. I have no doubt you are right about that, If the GOP self-destructs in 2012 and puts her up as the nominee, it will be her last ride. In lieu of that, she’ll be an interesting figure for quite some time. She’s going to get very rich on the speech-making circuit.

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