Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How bad can it get for the GOP?

In 2004 George W. Bush took Mississippi's First congressional district by a full 25% and a handsome plurality:

The district, which voted 62%-37% for President Bush in 2004, was vacated when incumbent Republican Roger Wicker was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Then a curious thing happened three weeks ago, when Democratic nominee Travis Childers led Republican Greg Davis 49%-46% in the first round of voting, but just short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff.

Both parties have given this race a lot of attention. FEC filings show that the DCCC has spent over $1.8 million on the race, while the NRCC -- which only had about $7 million on hand at the end of March -- has spent nearly $1.3 million.

Well, last night:
Travis Childers, a conservative Democrat who serves as Prentiss County chancery clerk, defeated Southaven Mayor Greg Davis by 54 percent to 46 percent in the race to represent Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, which both parties considered a potential bellwether for the fall elections.
In case anyone misses the point, that's the third "safe" Republican seat to go in recent special elections:
  • Bill Foster took the Illinois 14th (the seat Dennis Hastert baled from in something of a rush) back on 8th March. It was the first time a Democrat had taken a seat in the District since the Republicans were in the pits of the Watergate morass.
  • On 3rd May, Don Cazayoux broke a thirty-year Republican stranglehold on the Louisiana 6th. That one could be read as a referendum on the Hurricane Katrina deb√Ęcle.
Wheel on Lady Bracknell:
To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
To lose three safe seats in such rapid succession looks like an impending disaster.

Follow the money!

The other message is that the Democrats felt free to throw money at the problem. Because they have it:
Democrats begin the march into the fall elections with an enormous cash advantage: $44 million for the DCCC to $7 million for its GOP counterpart as of March 31. And 25 other Republican incumbents have decided against running for reelection, providing Democrats with more opportunities to make gains. Seven Democratic incumbents are not seeking reelection.
One other conclusion: the Republicans (especially in the South) feel they can use Obama as a stick with which to beat Democrats. Now, what could possibly lie behind that?
In Louisiana and Mississippi, the NRCC spent $1.8 million on ads focused largely on pinning Cazayoux and Childers to Obama ...

Independent analysts said that the anti-Obama campaign put Childers on the defensive but that it is too early to tell whether such a strategy will work in the fall.
Be careful with your ordure!
It will be intriguing to see which way, and on whom the dung gets deposited.

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