Big Surprise: the West is in play
Everyone was expecting the year to be bad on Republicans, but nobody thought it would be a problem out in the West. Midwest, Northeast sure. But, losing house seats in the West was about as unthought of as losing seats in the South.
That, at least according to Roll Call, is the thought going through the minds of DC pols this week:
“The West is very bad right now, as compared to what it normally is,” conceded one GOP consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The consultant added that while Republican prospects for holding seats in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Indiana still look grim, the drop-off in this year’s GOP vote in several key Western states will be much greater than in those Eastern and Midwestern districts.
“In terms of the difference between the normal Republican performance and what we’re going to see this year, the West is the worst that we’re going to see,” the strategist said.
Last week's news that Idaho may have a Democratic governor in a couple weeks was also reflected upon:
(Idaho Dem chair) Stallings described his frustration with getting Democratic leaders to pay attention to the open Idaho House race this year, given the conventional wisdom that no state that voted 68 percent for President Bush in 2004 would be fertile ground for a competitive contest.
Stallings recalled that after state Rep. Bill Sali (R), who is not well-liked by the state Republican establishment, won the GOP primary he tried to convince national Democratic leaders that the race was winnable.
“They just sort of pooh-poohed me,” he said.
But Stallings did praise Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who has been at odds with his party’s House and Senate campaign chiefs over spending priorities all cycle.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Howard Dean and the 50-state strategy,” Stallings said. “I think he recognized that if the party’s going to be competitive nationally they’ve got to either reach to the South or the West and I don’t see that happening in the South. The West is really the potential for growth.”
The consensus in the story was that the large swath of libertarians out West being pissed off a the GOP, and the demographic changes in places like Nevada, was making the West a bit nicer to Democrats. Just on the surface though, this implies some sort of sameness of Democrats nationwide.
Democrats in the West, though, are different the Democrats anywhere else and this article didn't put that into words. And, that Westerners may be smart enough to recognize the difference between Brian Schweitzer and Joe Biden might make a difference too.
Your Personal Note:
The Economist as an article on this topic this week also (requires paid subscription to read):
Politics in the mountain West
There's electoral gold in those hills
Have the Democrats struck the mother lode in the Rockies?
Oct 26th 2006 | BILLINGS AND DENVER
From The Economist print edition
Posted by: Adam | Oct 28, 2006 2:35:28 PM
I think Roll Call has not been paying attention. I have long felt that the West is fertile ground for Democrats. Westerners tend to be more libertarian and less interested in the radical family values posturing that is so prevalent in the Republican Party. As of late Republicans have made a concerted attack on individual rights. They have reinforced the power of the federal government at the expense of the states. That does not play well in the West.
Posted by: Paul | Oct 28, 2006 6:30:11 PM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)