Friday, November 10, 2006

Karl Rove on the Mid-Term Elections and Why the Dems Should Be Concerned

The GOP lost a lot of ground this week, much of it in response to the Iraq War and the scandals that have swirled around the GOP in the last two years. Even so, as Karl Rove points out to Time, the margin of loss was slim.

The Republican get-out-the-vote program Rove helped invent precluded even deeper losses, he says. "People were talking 35, 40 or more and it didn't happen," he said. "There were a number of elections which were supposed to be close and ended up not being close."

The Republican National Committee has been pointing out that a small shift in votes would have made a big difference. A shift of 77,611 votes would have given Republicans control of the House, according to Bush's political team. And a shift of 2,847 votes in Montana, or 7,217 votes in Virginia, or 41,537 votes in Missouri would have given a Republicans control of the Senate. In addition, the party has calculated that the winner received 51 percent or less in 35 contests, and that 23 races were decided by two percentage points or fewer, 18 races were decided by fewer than 5,000 votes, 15 races were decided by fewer than 4,000 votes, 10 races were decided by fewer than 3,000 votes, eight were decided by fewer than 2,000 votes and five races were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Rove loves his facts and figures, and the Democrats should pay attention to what he has to say here. No matter how much the Dems want to think otherwise, this was mostly an election motivated by voting against one party rather voting for the other party. And it was not the mandate some progressives are claiming -- it was close election. In other words, the Dems have their work cut out for them if they want to hold onto the seats they just won.

They have two years to convince the American people that they can do a better job than the GOP has done for the last 12 years. And during those two years, the Bush administration will try to undermine them and spin them and flat out lie about them to convince the electorate that they made a grave mistake in voting out the Republicans.

The spin has already begun in the blogosphere, with the wingnuts proclaiming all sorts of end-times scenarios now that the Dems are in power.

Michelle Malkin laments, The impeachment drumbeat begins.
Little Green Footballs claims, IBD: Conyers "In the Pocket of Islamists"
Right Wing News asks, Q&A Friday #53: Should Conservatives Let Democrats Impeach Bush?
Red State call the Dems win A victory for Iran

And that's just a few of the bigger wingnut blogs. Never mind that both Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean have said the Dems have no intention of impeaching Bush. The wingnuts have never let a little thing like the truth get in the way of their of their rants.

So the progressives have their work cut out for them. They need to show strong leadership (which is why we will not pull out of Iraq, but we will draw down the occupation force) and that they have a solid agenda that supports the lower and middle class American (raising the minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, reducing drug costs in the Medicare drug program, and so on).

But they must also show that they can make Bush accountable to the people again and restore some of our civil rights without letting the right spin it that they are being soft on terrorism. There will be hearings on Halliburton and the other companies getting rich in Iraq. There will be hearings on Abu Ghraib. But there will not be impeachment hearings.

Two years is not much time to rebuild a party's reputation. But that's all they have, so they better do it well and do it cleanly.

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