Monday, November 06, 2006 :::
There has been an great deal of chatter regarding what seems to be a GOP resurgence in the generic balloting. Mickey Kaus does as good a job as anyone in cataloguing the changes (in addition to beating on Andrew Sullivan, which is always good sport).
So. Did the Democratic wave crest too early? Is the GOP's GOTV going to save the party's majorities? (I said after the Kilgore debacle in 2005 that I never wanted to hear about the invincible "72 hour campaign" ever again. So much for that.)
Still, there are numerous election watchers who are predicting either a Republican rout or at least a solid knuckle-whacking. I'm not entirely sure the rout will occur, largely because -- even at this very late date -- Democrats have generally not given people a reason to vote "for" their candidates. "Anti" campaigns can generate a lot of votes, but usually not enough to win.
That's not to say Republicans have exactly given people a good reason to pull the lever (or touch the screen) for them. Fear is an excellent motivator and they have used it relentlessly. But is fear enough? No.
My prediction, which is worth only the electrons it consumes on this page, is that divided government will return to Washington.
And I would feel a lot better about that if it were clear to me that the Democrats had learned anything -- anything at all -- during their time in the minority. But they haven't.
Well, except for nominating old-style conservatives who will cause them no small amount of heartburn if elected.
Will the Republicans learn anything if they are swept into the minority? Hopefully yes. Hopefully, they will rediscover the principles that brought them to power 12 years ago. But I'm not exactly optimistic.
And what will happen here in Virginia (both of you really want to know what I think, right?). Well, I don't know. I didn't think it was possible to see a worse-run campaign than Jerry Kilgore's 2005 outing. But George Allen has done just that. Oh sure, the press has seemingly gone out of its way to bash, trash and thrash Allen. But let's be honest -- he brought much of this upon himself. He allowed Webb to dominate the online portion of the campaign until very recently -- a blunder of enormous proportions considering who reads blogs (the press and activists). He performed either very poorly or at best middling in the televised debates. And his campaign ads have been underwhelming. His October Surprise - the snippets from Webb's books - was jaw-droppingly dumb. In sum, Allen's high-priced talent failed him. And he will pay for it long after the election is over.
As for Webb -- well. I've talked to some of his supporters. They range from conservative Democrats to wide-eyed MoveOns. They do not so much believe in Webb as they detest Allen. And the War. And Bush. Their dislike is palpable and it may be enough to carry their candidate to victory in spite of the fact that Webb is a pitiful campaigner, a reluctant fundraiser and a man who has had either to compromise or utterly reject the beliefs he held for decades (the appearances with John Kerry and Bill Clinton sealed it). Webb has been supremely fortunate in this race because George Allen has done so much, so often, to make Webb viable. In many ways, Webb's is the Forrest Gump candidacy -- he finds himself at the center of events through no effort of his own. In Hollywood, that makes for a middling movie. In politics, it creates expectations that far exceed the candidate's ability to meet them.
Who will win? I really don't know. And in many ways, it may not really matter. Two conservatives are on the ballot -- one who casts himself in Reagan's mold, the other who seems to be more Buchanan-like than anything else.
I'm thinking write-in.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/06/2006