Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

With yesterday's dramatic ending to the 2010 primary election season, starring anti-masturbation activist Christine O'Donnell winning the Delaware GOP Senate nomination, and racist-sexist email comedian Carl Paladino winning the New York GOP Gubernatorial nomination, each over the "official" Republican party candidates for those offices, today's headlines are mostly of the Tea Party Victories that are expected to sweep US politics into a new era of populist know-nothing-ism come November.

As much as I fear some of these far-right xenophobic dilettantes actually being elected, I think the story line of this being a warning of what's to come in 2012's presidential race is a bit overblown.

Here's what the pundits are going off of:
  • The president's party, historically, "always" looses seats in the first mid-term election.
  • The majority party, historically, "always" looses seats when the economy is down.
  • Trust in Washington is at "historic lows" (they say this, but I haven't actually seen polls going back very far to demonstrate just how historic these lows are).
  • Turn-out in Republican primaries this year has been higher than in Democratic ones.
But let's look at things in the proper perspective.
  • Despite the handful of high profile nut-cases winning Tea/Republican Party nominations this season, over 95% of Congressional incumbents seeking reelection won their primaries.
  • Of course Republican primaries had higher turn-outs: they were the ones being contested by the Tea Party wing-nuts. Most of the Democrats had little serious competition to draw out voters.
And here's the big kicker of why 2010 does not guarantee a Tea Party Victory in 2012:
  • They're winning this year by bringing out lots of first-time voters, and if there's one more "historically, always" we can add to our list, it's that first-time voters are typically one-time voters.
Yes, the Republicans will pick up several seats in Congress seven weeks from now, perhaps even capture a slim majority of one of the houses. And, yes, there will likely be some fresh new tea-stained faces among them. And, yes, they will cause plenty of trouble for the president. And, just as certainly, they will fail to completely destroy Washington.

While they will certainly have some successes, they will fail to eliminate the IRS, Social Security, and the Department of Education. They will not end the debate over gay marriage, put a stop to legal abortion, and effect the deportation of every Muslim and Latino. And when they fail to achieve all their goals (remember, it's all or nothing for these guys), their followers will turn on them and crawl back under the rocks where they've been hiding all along.

The Tea Party Movement may be big news today, but most polls show that they only represent about 19% of the electorate. If they're the only ones who show up on election day, they can win. But they cannot put together enough of a majority to govern. And I predict that these political neophytes will not have the stamina or the momentum to put Sarah Palin (or similar) in the White House in 2012.

At least, this is what I keep telling myself in order to get to sleep at night.


  1. I hope you'e right. That's all I have to say.

  2. from your mouth to god's ear.

  3. For the rest of the worlds sake, i hope you're right as well.


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