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Don’t get cocky

September 1, 2010

Found at Instapundit, this note from one of his readers concisely sums up what I have trying to say for months –

In the last few years of the Bush administration, the President’s poll numbers crept ever downward. Democrats in politics and the press rejoiced that Americans were finally “waking up” to the fact that they had been right about Bushitler all along. They boasted loud and often that Republicans were losing the country because of their unpopular decisions to go to war in Iraq, establish new national security protocols, lobby for Social Security reform, stress border security, etc. Liberals started at the ideological position that those policies were immoral (if not illegal), and when Bush’s poll numbers dropped, they inferred causality. It never occurred to them that Bush’s poll numbers were dropping because many on the right didn’t think his policies went far enough. Conservatives wanted him to put more emphasis on border security, not less; they wanted to see a more aggressive approach to entitlement reform, not a Medicare prescription boondoggle; they wanted a comprehensive immigration solution that started with border security first, not blanket amnesty. The list could go on. The left, especially liberal journalists, just assumed that their criticisms of the right were being validated by the greater populace with each and every poll. It was wrong at the time, and it’s the main reason that so many of them today can’t understand what happened to their “mandate.”

Conservatives are making the same mistakes right now.

I have said before that I think conservatives are making a grave error if they think the November elections will be a cake walk. Right now every primary victory over an incumbent or a slightly less conservative candidate is looked on as another blow against Obama and an almost assured win in November with no consideration given to whether the candidate can actually win in the general election. People forget that primaries are a group of self-selected like minded individuals voting where the generals are the population as a whole. Candidates with appeal in a primary may not have much appeal to the general population. That’s why, in general, candidates move to more moderate positions after the primary is over. It doesn’t do any good to win the primaries and lose in November. As Ricky Bobby says – “If you ain’t first you’re last” – that nay not apply everywhere but it certainly does here.

(can you tell we watched Talladega Nights on the TiVo last night 🙂 )

One Comment leave one →
  1. xbradtc permalink
    September 2, 2010 6:17 pm

    1. It’s the economy, stupid. The party in power is gonna get hammered any time the economy is bad. That the majority of the public sees the stimulus as an ineffectual response, and a foolish one at that, isn’t going to help much.

    2. There’s a greater sense of discontent in 2010 than there was in 2008. Huge swaths of the electorate feel the political establishment is treating them with contempt. That doesn’t bode well for the Dems. But it also doesn’t bode well for established GOP candidates.

    3. The 2008 election was not a sea change election. It was the normal swing that the electorate likes to make every 8-12 years. That the Obama admin and the Pelosi/Reid congress saw it as a mandate to fundamentally change the government/citizen relationship is the great reason for the anger in the moderate middle. It has also energized the base of the GOP. 2010 is far more likely to be a sea change election.

    4. None of this is an argument that the GOP should just expect the Dems to roll over. If they want to win elections, they have to earn it. And if they want to keep winning elections, they have to continue to earn it.

    5. If the GOP gives lip service to financial responsibility, then turns around and follows Delay’s disastrous K-street strategy, they’ll be out in 2 years.

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