Counting Yahoos Before They Are Crushed
I've been thinking some about the "surprising" polling on the 2006 races. Surprising in the sense that so many Republicans in safe seats appear to be threatened.
Now, conventional wisdom says that these Republicans are vulnerable this year because of the failures of the Bush administration in Iraq (and Katrina, etc., etc., etc.) There is something to this. But I don't think it fully explains it. For one thing, Democrats are rated almost as low as Republicans by the public. So why should they benefit so much from the negative fallout surrounding Iraq? Simply because they are the only option available to voters? No, I think there is something else at work here and it is simply this: many of the Republicans who are now in trouble are simply terrible candidates.
Whether it be personal scandals or outrageous behavior or truly scummy campaign practices, this race is rife with Republicans whose candidacy's for high school council wouldn't have been taken seriously, let alone a run for the United States Congress. I mean honestly, who in their right mind would want people like Santorum or Weldon in Congress?
So why is it that these people got there in the first place and why are they in so much trouble now? Its really two sides of the same phenomena. In the past, the Democrats didn't contest districts that were strongly Republican. This allowed the GOP to run candidates for "safe" seats who were otherwise clowns of the first order. With no serious Democratic opposition, these people won seats and held on to them against all reason.
But this year, with the 50 state and no-uncontested race strategies, the howlers of the Republican party are finally being contrasted with candidates who are making a serious effort to present serious leadership. And they are naturally looking very weak in the process.
What this means is, if the Democrats manage to defeat most of these yahoos, the Congress as a whole will increase in intelligence and seriousness. But it also means that Republicans will have to start looking for candidates that are better than the ones they have been fielding. Which means that the fight for Congressional Representation will become a real battle of ideas instead of ideology.
And, whether Dems or Reps win those kind of races, the American people will be better off.