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What Does It Mean: Miss. Special Election

This is the first installment of a new occasional, collaborative feature between The Fix and Capitol Briefing. When interesting political news happens, we'll exchange a series of e-mails offering (we hope) trenchant analysis of "what it means" along with some informed, witty banter. Please let us know, via the comments sections of both blogs, what you think of the new feature.

UPDATE, 3:35 pm: Ben replied to my question about the possibility of another Democratic wave in 2008 by writing "Republicans will lose A LOT of seats in November unless they can figure out how to completely divorce themselves from President Bush's record and legacy."

Can that be done? Here's The Fix response:

Dear Ben,

Re-branding the Republican party isn't a task that can be accomplished in its entirety between now and November. But, Republicans have to figure out a way to start that process immediately or an election disaster seems imminent.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole again and again said that GOP candidates should follow Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) lead in terms of redefining what it means to be a Republican, which, of course, is a nice way of saying finding ways to distance himself from President Bush.

McCain has had two high profile breaks with the Bush Administration of late -- on global warming and the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Neither are issues that would seem natural fits for the average House member but it's a start.

My suggestion for House Republicans: Figure out what you stand for and, as a group, roll out that vision over the next few months. The root of Republican successes in the 1980s and 1990s was that their organizing principles could be boiled down into four words: Less government, lower taxes. That message has been diluted and convoluted over the years to the point where many voters -- even those with GOP tendencies -- have no idea what the party believes at its core.

Ben, I'm interested in what you think the two or three core issues Republicans should use to united an obviously fractured party. Or do you think such agreement is impossible in this political climate and a go-it-alone strategy is the only one that will work?

Eagerly awaiting your thoughts, I remain,
The Fix

ORIGINAL POST

Ben Pershing (of Capitol Briefing fame) started the conversation off by posing three questions about last night's results.

From Ben's post:

1) The "Wave" Angle. Look out, because we're about to be hit by, well, a wave of "wave" stories. We both know that reporters love groups of three, so three special election wins means the press will be writing today and tomorrow all about the possibility that Democrats are going to put dozens more seemingly safe Republican seats in play this fall and build up an old-school supermajority.

2) The Obama Angle. Republicans tried their best to tie Childers to Barack Obama. It didn't work. That's after they tried to tie Don Cazayoux to Obama in the Louisiana special election race. That didn't work either. Obama's campaign absolutely loves this.

3) The Tom Cole Angle. Tom Cole, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has definitely had better months than May 2008. He's losing GOP seats, and spending a lot of his precious cash in the process. He's had his critics since he got this job last year, and now they'll be out for blood.

And, now for The Fix response:

Dear Ben:

To my mind, there's no better day than the day AFTER an election. There's numbers to sort, spin to sift through and conclusions to be drawn.

So, let's get to it.

The three questions rightly summarize the three possible narratives that could emerge from the vote in Mississippi last night, which, no matter what Republicans are saying today, was an unmitigated disaster for their party.

Given their previous losses in Illinois' 14th district and Louisiana's 6th district -- both seats that clearly favored their party -- Republicans should rightly be concerned about double-digit losses at the ballot box this fall.

I did a little bit of research on Mississippi's 1st district over the weekend to try to get an accurate read on just how Republican it is. The Cook Political Report -- a Fix alma mater -- produces something called the Partisan Voting Index, a system that compares all House districts to one another based on their vote for president. That comparison produces a PVI score; if a district, for example, carries a PVI of D+5, it means that the seat voted five points more Democratic than the nation as a whole. Mississippi's 1st has a PVI of R+10; only seven (now eight) Democrats represent districts with a PVI score of R+10 or higher.

That's a long-winded way of saying that, if last night is any indication, Democrats may have a MUCH broader field of targets this fall than we previously thought.

Assuming the results in Mississippi are no fluke, here's a few GOP-held districts that may well be more competitive than previously imagined: Louisiana's 4th, Florida's 21st, Maryland's 1st, Missouri's 9th and New Mexico's 2nd.

Combine a wider target list with the large number of Republican incumbents already heading into retirement (26 and counting) as well as the massive cash edge the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has over its GOP counterpart and a double-digit seat gain for Democrats starts to seem like a real possibility.

It's too early to predict a wave but something is going on in the water out there.

Over to you, Ben.

Sincerely,
The Fix

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 14, 2008; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Winners and Losers: Of Mountaineers and Magnolias

Comments

Bsimon, I am suggessting that open seats are in alot of jeapordy and that incumbents are not in as much trouble as people assume. History supports that, most of the time. 1994 & 2006 were exceptions to the rule, as there were massive Republican (1994) & Democratic (2006) takeovers. In 2004, it was a suppossed Republican year. They won 6 senate seats & came out with a +4, if I remember right. They won 5 open seats: NC, SC, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana & actually beat Tom Daschle in South Dakota, the then Democratic Senate Majority Leader. They won 6 seats, and beat 1 incumbent. Democrats won 2 US senate seats: Ill. & Colorodo...both of which were open seats. In 06, Allen lost his Va. seat due to his "Macaca moment". Conrad Burns lost in Montana b/c he became a corrupt, self-serving earmarking theif. Lincoln Chaffe lost in RI, but Republicans didn't lose anything there. DeWine in Ohio, Santorum in Pa. & Talent in Mossouri lost. So basically, 3 incumbents did get beat in 06...which historically is almost unprecendented. So it can happen that a bunch of incumbents can lose. But, it doesn't happen often & I don't think it will. The incumbents that are predicted to be in trouble are in pretty good shape: Coleman in Minn., Smith in Oregon & Collins in Maine. They all look to be in great shape. Dole from my homestate in NC & Cornyn from Tx., the Democratic national committee are trying to say they are in trouble...but I doubt it. Neither is Stevens likely to lose in Alaska. Sununu is losing right now vs. Shaheen in New Hampshire, but he beat her there in 02' & with McCain at the top of the ticket..this will help Sununu significantly & he is still the favorite in my mind to win in November vs. Shaheen. The seats that are most likely to change hands are in New Mexico with Domenici retiring, in Colorodo with Allard retiring & John Warner in Va. There are 26 open Republican seats this year in the US House of Reps. So, be prepared for another huge Democratic year as very few democratic house members are reitiring & no democratic senators are retiring. With that formula, congress should be very democratic after 08...even though the McCain vs. Obama race is still very competitive.

Posted by: reason | May 14, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Wyoming's at-large seat. The GOP held it by only the narrowest of margins in 2006.

In Montana, the Democrats have a late start in a battle to unseat incumbant at-large Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg. Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy had announced early and seemed to have a great start until forced to abandon his campaign for health reasons.

Kennedy at least began a political base in Montana's largest county. Jim Hunt, who came late to the campaign, has not held political office. He was raised on the Montana HiLine and has practiced law in Helena most of his adult life.

He has an uphill battle to gain name recognition. That was the problem for Democrat Monica Lindeen who went into the general election of 2006 with 25 percent of the lectorate not knowing who she was. But she labored in the shadow of Jon Tester's successful challenge of Conrad Burns. went into that race. All the enerby of Montana Democrats

This cycle, Senate and Gubernatorial races hands with popular Senator Max Baucus and even more popular Governor Brian Schweitzer running for reelection, are safely in Democratic hands. That means Hunt should have an easier path to Democratic contributors.

Getting the money to get on the air is important to get known in the nation's fourth largest state. He has no serious opponent in the primary, so will not gain much recognition that way. If Hunt can make himself a household name, he may work his way into striking distance of Rehberg, given what is shaping up to be a huge Democratic election year.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | May 14, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

mark, Sorry for that mental diversion, if an apology is in order ;-) But I think that lady qualifies as a full-blown bombSHELL!

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | May 14, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Proud, thanks for that link, too.

I must admit that when I first saw the word "bomblette" I thought of a tiny Pamela Anderson. But once I got past that I was OK.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | May 14, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Mark, Interestingly enough, a new bomblette has recently emerged in the evangelical community...something of a politcal redirection of sorts. As you may remember, I've been hoping, dare I say, praying, for this for a long time. It does my heart good to see the evangelical wing wringing their hands at John McCain's reticence "to share any details about his spiritual journey and personal, religious worldview."


"Last week several prominent evangelical scholars and leaders unveiled a document called The Evangelical Manifesto.

...The theologians and religious leaders who drafted The Manifesto attempted to clarify the definition of the term "evangelical" and remove the popular fallacy that evangelicalism is a political ideology.

... We believe that evangelicals should not be owned by any political party. In fact in our recently released book, we apologize for the religious right's over-identification with the Republican Party."

http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/HarryRJacksonJr/2008/05/14/an_open_letter_to_the_evangelical_community_unified,_divided,_or_conquered

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | May 14, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, I think the neocons can be repudiated by the Rs without a catastrophic defeat. That is because they only gained prominence recently and are not a voting bloc.

But theocons are another story. If most evangelicals are content to let church and state be separate, then the change can be evolutionary. But if most evangelicals want to impose their will on the unwashed and on the Rs my guess is that your catastrophic defeat may be necessary to break the stranglehold.

But I would like to hear what bhoomes, Dave!, and Proud think of this. We actually do have some Rs as posters here.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | May 14, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Sandy, leading the lezbo vote for Hillary.


=================
So Hillary Clinton sure gave the great liar
empty suit,Barack Hussein Obama some of his
"Change You Can Believe In" with a royal
butt kicking all over WVA,PA,IN and Ohio
and that sure should tell all you toxic
Obamajuice drinkers to sober up and wise up
to the fact Barack Hussien Obama is totally
Un Electable! And That Is Somemore "Change
You Can Count On!" Barack Obama will never
be President of the USA! Just Say NO Obama!

Posted by: Sandy5274 | May 14, 2008 4:48 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin writes
"There are places for an R Party to go that offer promise for itself and the country. It would probably concentrate on Rich's formulation, which drops the neocons and theocons from party orthodoxy. I want McC, who could lead that vision of the R Party, to show me that Bill Kristol is not designing his foreign policy."


Given that the neocons & theocons essentially control the party, how can the party change - or even limit their control within the party? Can it happen without a catastrophic electoral loss?

Posted by: bsimon | May 14, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

So Hillary Clinton sure gave the great liar
empty suit,Barack Hussein Obama some of his
"Change You Can Believe In" with a royal
butt kicking all over WVA,PA,IN and Ohio
and that sure should tell all you toxic
Obamajuice drinkers to sober up and wise up
to the fact Barack Hussien Obama is totally
Un Electable! And That Is Somemore "Change
You Can Count On!" Barack Obama will never
be President of the USA! Just Say NO Obama!

Posted by: Sandy5274 | May 14, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Proud chose a very telling article to post.
Rich followed with the notion that Crist and Arnie represent the future of the R Party.
Bsimon, Proud, others [bhoomes?] and I have
noticed that the Newt seems to be a fount of
palatable and promising ideas when he is not in office.

There are places for an R Party to go that offer promise for itself and the country. It would probably concentrate on Rich's formulation, which drops the neocons and theocons from party orthodoxy. I want McC, who could lead that vision of the R Party, to show me that Bill Kristol is not designing his foreign policy.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | May 14, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

CA and FLA Republican Govs have found the political center of the country: 1) pro-environment 2) pro positive business climate for growth 3) live-and-let-live attitude on social issues 4) tough on bad guys at home and overseas.

Sounds like a winning formula to win national elections to me.

Anyone else?

Posted by: rich | May 14, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"John Boehner, fresh off his bold and forward looking effort to distort Barack Obama's comments on Israel, bluntly suggests that the GOP should view yesterday's Mississippi returns as a "wake-up call:"


I don't mean to kick my party while it's going down, but the proper time to "wake-up" would have been after the 2006 midterms. Actually, waking up well before the 2006 elections would have been better still, but I'm an easy grader.

Even after the 2006 wipeout, the party opted to practice business as usual, returning to leadership positions the same people who had authored the midterm disaster. The concept of bringing in a fresh face with fresh ideas manifested itself in restoring Trent Lott to a leadership role. Shockingly, the Lott Restoration failed to arrest the GOP's decline.

Boehner's statement also shows the GOP does not intend to be outgunned in the vapid rhetoric department this fall. But is this wise? If we're going to rely on vapid rhetoric, isn't that playing on Barack Obama's home court? In case anyone from the McCain campaign is reading, I'll let you in on a little secret - if the presidential election boils down to who's the biggest agent of change, John McCain will not win.

For GOP candidates up and down the ticket, blathering clichés about change won't do any good.

Instead, successful Republican candidates will outline serious and persuasive visions for America's economy and national security. Doing so won't be enough to win some races in this particular cycle, but at least there will be a nobility of purpose to the enterprise, something that has been sadly lacking all too often in recent years."


http://www.weeklystandard.com/Weblogs/TWSFP/TWSFPView.asp#6883


Posted by: proudtobeGOP | May 14, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention that Lauzen is no peach either, but at least he has won elections.

Posted by: mnteng | May 14, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

kreuz (and Mark):

I don't know about the South, but in IL-14, the R's did have a credible candidate in state Sen. Lauzen. But Denny Hastert endorsed Oberweis (why?) who ended up beating Lauzen after a typically nasty Oberweis campaign. Since Oberweis will be running against Foster again in Nov., there's no reason to believe that the D's won't hold this seat.

I've heard that Oberweis is asking his supporters what went wrong in his special election campaign. Perhaps he still doesn't realize that even the R's don't like him all that much.

Posted by: mnteng | May 14, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The question for Democrats and others concerned with the Democratic Party primary is then this -- do you really want to let the worst-educated, least-knowledgeable and most bigotry-prone components of the voting pool (including those who stubbornly insist that Obama is a Muslim) control the direction of the party to the point of overriding the outcome in pledged delegates? Do you really want to give Hillary Clinton a pass in regards to her ignorantly racist supporters that you would never give to Obama in regards to Rev. Wright? And do you really want to say, as Hillary media proxy Paul Begala did, that a coalition that includes well-educated "eggheads" is somehow a bad thing?

Democrats used to promote education as a virtue to the point even of wanting to ridiculously overspend government dollars on it at every opportunity. But now a large part of the party obstinately insists that the educated are those that should be sneered at and ignored. In short, they have embraced the anti-intellectualism long present on the far right. And none of Hillary's supporters seem to mind.

Posted by: SMS | May 14, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The question for Democrats and others concerned with the Democratic Party primary is then this -- do you really want to let the worst-educated, least-knowledgeable and most bigotry-prone components of the voting pool (including those who stubbornly insist that Obama is a Muslim) control the direction of the party to the point of overriding the outcome in pledged delegates? Do you really want to give Hillary Clinton a pass in regards to her ignorantly racist supporters that you would never give to Obama in regards to Rev. Wright? And do you really want to say, as Hillary media proxy Paul Begala did, that a coalition that includes well-educated "eggheads" is somehow a bad thing?

Democrats used to promote education as a virtue to the point even of wanting to ridiculously overspend government dollars on it at every opportunity. But now a large part of the party obstinately insists that the educated are those that should be sneered at and ignored. In short, they have embraced the anti-intellectualism long present on the far right. And none of Hillary's supporters seem to mind.

Posted by: SMS | May 14, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The frustrating part about this column is that there's great stuff on the Cook Report's PVI, but it's buried under so much blather about three possible ways the spinners may try to contort it.

God, i am so sick of that. Why don't you just tell us what you think the truth is, and ignore the BS instead of giving it a voice?

You don't just give it a voice, you give it center stage. You encourage the spinners to spin more lies.

Can we have a bi-partisan movement against spinners, and against anything to encourage them?

Posted by: Dave Cullen | May 14, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Take a look at the county numbers: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2008/by_county/MS_Page_0513.html?SITE=MSJADELN&SECTION=POLITICS

Davis won three counties -- DeSoto, his home, and Webster and Grenada counties in the southern part of the district. So this wasn't Childers running up the score in a couple of counties and hanging on elsewhere. He won pretty handily in almost every county.

Now, compare those to the numbers of the April 22 contest: http://www.sos.state.ms.us/elections/2008/First%20Congressional%20Special%20Election/Congressional%20Election%20PDF/2008%20First%20Congressional%20Special%20Election%20Certification.pdf

Davis won eight counties back then, a few of them pretty sizably. And Davis didn't lose votes between elections. He gained 18k from April 22 to yesterday, going from 31k to 49k. But Childers swamped him, gaining 25k votes, from 33k to 58k.

In an R+10 district with 107k voters, Davis should have won 67-40 or so. So it's not just that Childers picked up an extra 10k votes from first round to second. Childers was starting out with an extra 8k in the first round, then added that extra 10k in the second.

So we need to be asking what motivated those 18k voters to vote for Childers. And don't laugh. That's nearly a 20% swing. That's significant, especially in a non-swing district.

Posted by: novamatt | May 14, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Kreuz, my guess is that you will prove correct.

After reading some of the more thoughtful posts, I do see that these were open seats and that does make a difference, and allows for the assumption that the Ds will be competitive for open seats previously held by Rs.

Posted by: MarkinAustin | May 14, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"We would have more clarity if we knew why Rs were rejected in these three CDs.

There should be no broad assumptions made, here. We do not know that personalities did not dominate these races. We do not know if this was a rejection of free trade, or of Iraq policy, or an expression of discontent with the "Ins" that will not help D incumbents, either."

I disagree to an extent. Local politics and personalitis are definitely playing a role, but that speaks to the environment and the effectiveness of the national campaigns as well. In each of these districts, the Republicans could have run stronger candidates than they did, but failed to largely because they failed to recruit due to the environment and the recognition of how difficult the battles would be in terms of outcome and money spent on the campaigns. The Dems had the money and the recruiting, the Republicans did not, and the same pattern will hold true for the general. The environment will open the door for Dems in a lot of places it otherwise would not have, and the recruiting and campaign focus will push them over the top in a number of those locations. If they can do it in these deep red districts where the focus of the entire nation is on them, they will also be able to do it in others nationally where the Republican focus is divided. While the Republicans focus on retaking these two districts in Mississipi an LA as well as the districts in FL and TX that should be theirs, the Dems will be making 20-30 other seats competitive. Remember, these races weren't about rejecting the "ins," they rejected Republicans in open seats in Republican districts during a Democratic Congress.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | May 14, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

reason writes
"What these 3 "special elections" have said to me is that open seats are extremely hard for Republicans to keep in this political environment."

That is an interesting point. If I'm reading you correctly, you're arguing that the risk to incumbents is not necessarily significantly higher than normal, merely that open seats give the advantage to Dems. Here in MN, that seems to be reasonable. MN-3 is open & is a likely Dem pickup. But Coleman does not seem to be as vulnerable as I expected. I think the Dems may have erred in supporting Franken's challenge.

Posted by: bsimon | May 14, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"With a far-left wing loon liberal like Barack Obama running on the D's ticket..."

We keep hearing this meme over and over again, where is the evidence he is a "liberal loon?" The only major policy difference between he and Clinton (who somehow now is a model for DLC centrism...) is that on healthcare, he rejected mandatory buy ins and trusted the markets more. And as posted by Leichtman, he's pro-tort reform, another conservative position. Are we really supposed to buy into him being a leftist based on the NJ ratings because he was pro-ethics reform?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | May 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The scary thing for Republicans is not that their incumbents are losing, it's that R congressmen are leaving congress. Like 30 Republican representatives are retiring in 08', and if the past 3 elections are any indication, all 30 could be won by democrats. Plus, 4 Republican US senators are retiring in 08. Sen. Domenici of NM, Sen. Allard of Colorodo, Sen. Hagel of Nebraska & Sen. John Warner of Va. The Va. seat is all but won by Democrat Mark Warner. The NM seat certainly is leaning to Democrat Rep. Udall. The Colorodo seat is very tight in polling, a toss-up. The Nebraska senate seat has been rescued by popular former Nebraska governor & former US Sec. of Agriculture Mike Johanns. Had Johanns not decided to come home & rescue this seat, this one may be competitive as well with Hagel retiring. If John Warner & Pete Domenici didn't have health problems, Virginia nor New Mexico would even be in play this year. That's not the case, and b/c of this, Democrats are riding high in those 2 states right now hoping for 2 good pick-ups. Colorodo senator Wayne Allard is retiring on a campaign promise that he believes in term limits for politicians, and would only serve a maximum of 2 terms. I must say, it's good to see any politician honor a promise made.

What these 3 "special elections" have said to me is that open seats are extremely hard for Republicans to keep in this political environment.

Posted by: reason | May 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I put that in the wrong window, it should have been on the other thread so just ignore it here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Here's a better readings for you that cut through the political spin on both sides:

"Who's side are they on?"
http://www.economist.com/world/africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11332333

Simple fact: Iran plays all sides, and is simultaneously supported and opposed by all. To say that Sadr is allied with Iran and Maliki is against them is the same kind of gross oversimplificatin and misunderstanding in the region that got us into the mess we're in in the first place, ignoring the real politik going on between a diverse range of groups with motivations internal to Iraq. This is the essence of a low grade Civil War that can only be solved by the Iraqi people, not the United States.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | May 14, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I propose a Grande Cojones award to the first reporter to get an exclusive in-depth interview with Tom Delay & Karl Rove about the Permanent Republican Majority.

Posted by: bsimon | May 14, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

It's the end of the Republican "Big Lie". They smeared opponents, mastered propaganda, controlled the media, stole elections, and infiltrated government with brain-washed partisans but sooner or later, just like in the Soviet Union, the Big Lie is exposed and it all comes crashing down. Fortunately for them, in America, we don't chop off heads and put them on stakes at the village gates.

Time to get to work and clean up the mess they made.

Posted by: thebob.bob | May 14, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

What's happening in the US political arena is nothing new and the 2008 election will only be a repeat of history.
The history?
Until the GOP's big takeover of both houses of congress in 1994, the Democratic Party had had almost total control of both houses of congress for over 50 years with the Republicans left only with a hog-tied presidentcy. While the American people always voted for the Democrats to run congress, they never trusted them to run the country and usually voted in a Republican president. This is what's happening again. With a far-left wing loon liberal like Barack Obama running on the D's ticket, who has so many negatives that it's amazing that the Democrats would even consiter someone that pathetic a candidate for dog catcher, there's no way the Democrats can take over the WH in '08. What's happening again is the Democrats nominating another un-electable far-left liberal candidate for president on par with Mc Govern, Mondale, Humphries, Dukakas, Kerry, and now Obama who will get killed come November in the general election, while at the same time the Democrats will be winning by big margins in both houses of congress.
We've seen all this before.

Posted by: madhatter | May 14, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

As the Republican brand burns brightly, the leadership inspired by their hero buy fiddles and take lessons. Unless I am an incumbent Republican with many years and a strong personality I fear any ambitious young man or woman desiring a seat in Congress. Not only will open seats fall, but so too will long serving Republicans with bland persona's unused to being challenged find themselves seeking employment on K street come November.

The overlooked aspect of this story is how much harder it will make Clinton fight. These three special elections make it look nigh on impossible for a Democrat to lose this fall. That means if it is not her it will never be her. A non-Clinton Democratic Presidential win means a minimum of eight years and more likely twelve to twenty years before there is an open fight for a Democratic Presidential nomination. At sixty she simply can't wait that long. This spring you can watch the neo-Dixiecrat bloom since Obama has not nipped it in the bud.

Posted by: muD | May 14, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

One Republican may well benefit from the result in Mississippi-Vito Fossela. Sure, he'll face pressure in the coming months to resign, but this gives him some breathing room, at least from fellow Republicans. If he resigns prior to July 1, Gov. Paterson gets to call a special election soon after that. Another special election is certainly the last thing Republicans need right now.

Posted by: Howard | May 14, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

When will these new Democratic Congressmen get Superdelegate status?

Posted by: aleks | May 14, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Mark: I think you can go a bit farther with your conclusions from these races, because at least in Miss., the Republicans far outspent the Dems in their failed attempt to hold onto the seat -- and this was easily the "most Republican" of the three seats.

Further, the GOP can't claim to have fielded a bad candidate in this case, as they claimed in the other two (which of course raises another issue -- why couldn't they get better candidates?).

By outspending the Dems, they set the tone for the race, and failed miserably. So you can reasonably conclude that the voters rejected the standard GOP mode of attack. And you can extrapolate from that conclusion to project that if such attacks won't work in such a "safe" district, they won't work in more competitive ones.

Or, you can take the head in the sand approach, but I don't think even the RNC is doing that after this latest debacle.

Posted by: Spectator2 | May 14, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

With Obama on the top of the ticket, I think the Nebraska 2nd is in play. Yesterday's primary created a rematch between political novice Jim Esch and long-time incumbent Lee Terry. In 2006, Esch came within 10 points of an upset. NE-2 centers on Omaha, with a large democratic stronghold in the eastern part of the city. The predominantly African-American section of North Omaha will have VERY high turnout that can only help Jim Esch.

Posted by: Peter Zenger | May 14, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I am originally from Baton Rouge, LA - the congressional district (more or less) that just went Dem. I am STUNNED that this district went dem. Richard Baker (R) was in that seat since I was in elementary school. It is a red district in a very red state and the Republicans lost it. Looks like the ship is sinking, maybe because they are taking away our liberties, balooning the size of the government, standing against minimum wage increases, and spying on us?

Posted by: Ned P | May 14, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"Bush and Cheney have killed the Republican brand. It's only poetic justice, after their theft of the 2000 election."

I can't believe some people are still calling the 2000 election a theft...

...without mentioning that 2004 was so blatantly stolen as well (see Ohio, and every single exit poll in America).

Don't let them get away with "legitimizing" any part of their kleptocracy.

Posted by: Harry R. Sohl | May 14, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Voters in three heavily Republican districts don't seem to have a problem with adding to the size of the Democratic majority in the "Pelosi-Reid" Congress. Better try another approach, GOPers.

Posted by: Spectator2 | May 14, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Obviously you so-called "political pundits" are slow to the "change" theme! Obama and his campaign correctly identified the state of country from the onset of the Obama campaign. Obama's message and composure goes right along with a majority of Americans.

If the Republican Party is thinking the best way to win this fall is by politics of fear and distraction, Republicans will lose nearly everywhere "big time".

Obama needs 135 delegates to cinch the nomination. Somehow I think the new Congressmen from Mississippi and Louisana will become Obama superdelegates. So now the countdown is really 133 delegates to go!!!!!!

Posted by: AJ | May 14, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

We would have more clarity if we knew why Rs were rejected in these three CDs.

There should be no broad assumptions made, here. We do not know that personalities did not dominate these races. We do not know if this was a rejection of free trade, or of Iraq policy, or an expression of discontent with the "Ins" that will not help D incumbents, either.

I contend that without intrusive polling we have learned only that the Ds have more money to spend in CD races.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | May 14, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

All very well and good to have an interesting chat with one of your colleagues about the Congressional races you made your own ticket-to-fame in 2006 but they in no way make up for the absolute failure of the Post to provide continuing and insightful analytics about the Senate, House and Governors races occurring this year. I guess you've graduated to the "big leagues" where you can cook up almost exactly the same stories that we can find anywhere else about the Barack/Hillary or McCain item-of-the-day or any other element of the presidential race but nothing on the rest of what's going on until it generates sufficient energy to force itself onto your to-do list, such as the trifecta of recently converted Rep to Dem House seats. So we'll settle for some cast-offs from your "conversations" with your colleague while looking elsewhere for insightful analysis about anything other that presidential politics from you for the next six months.

Posted by: Harry | May 14, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Historians will say 2008 produced a realignment election. Obama will trounce McCain, and the Democrats will attain a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate.

Bush and Cheney have killed the Republican brand. It's only poetic justice, after their theft of the 2000 election.

Posted by: harlemboy | May 14, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

For Democrats in swing or Republican districts it is a good sign that they couldn't tie a candidate in Mississippi to Obama but we as Democrats must realize that is becaue the Congresssional candidates said they weren't tied to Obama. They didn't endorse him and didn't ask for his endorsement. They declared their Independence from Obama and recognize that to win they have to stay Independent.

Many swing District Congresspersons have already realized that Hillary Clinton won their Districts and that many of her voters may well not vote for Obama. So those like Heath Schuler (D-NC) who endorsed Hillary even after Obama won NC big may very well run an Independent campaign if Obama is the Democratic nominee.

So the party will have to recognize that we have Congressional races that we can win and that many of those candidates could run ahead of the top of the ticket and in some areas we hope they will.

Posted by: peterdc | May 14, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Another race that should move to the front tier now is Ohio's 2nd. Democrat Victoria Wulsin hasn't gotten much national attention in her rematch against incumbent Jean Schmidt because many people just consider the district "too Republican." With her 49.5% showing in '06 and Childer's proof that Dems can pick up deep-red seats, I think that Wulsin's got a really good shot.

Posted by: Stu | May 14, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It seems that many Republicans (26 retirees) saw this coming.
Perhaps stepping aside is the best thing to do. The GOP as currently assembled appears poorly equipped to compete in the current political landscape. The GOP needs some fresh faces and ideas.

Posted by: JNoel002 | May 14, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- The approval rating of the U.S. Congress dropped to near-record levels and is lower than U.S. President George Bush's mark, a Gallup poll indicates.

The telephone survey of 1,017 U.S. adults indicates 18 percent of those interviewed May 8-11 approve of the current Congress. The score matches record lows from similar Gallup polls in August 2007 and March 1992.

Posted by: the Pelosi/Reid congress | May 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

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