Tuesday, June 15, 2010
2010 is NOT an anti-incumbent year, it's an anti left-of-center year...
Purveyors of this narrative point to the May defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the party's nominating convention in Utah as proof. As added insurance for their argument they point to the special election in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District where Democrat Mark Critz easily defeated Republican Tim Burns in a district that had voted for John McCain in 2008. If this were simply an anti-Democrat year, the argument goes, then why the defeat of Bennett and the election of Critz?
At first blush, it is a reasonable argument, but dig a bit deeper and the narrative unravels. 2010 is not shaping up to be a simple anti-incumbent year, nor is it simply an anti-Democrat year. All indications are that 2010 is shaping up to be an anti left of center year and that hurts Democrats. Republican Bob Bennett lost because he was perceived as being too moderate and too willing to compromise with the Democratic party - though to many this may be an admirable trait it was not among GOP faithful this year. Democrat Marc Critz won a special election in a Congressional district that has been held by Democrats for over 3 decades and he won by running as a very conservative Democrat. Critz openly opposed the Obama health reform bill, declared himself to be firmly pro-life, and was unabashedly pro-gun rights. Critz won by running as a Republican.
There are a few other races of note as well. West Virginia Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan was defeated in his state's primary by a wide margin. His 14 term career ended at the hands of a conservative Democrat who campaigned against Mollohan's support of health reform. The case of Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas is also worthy of mention. Lincoln failed to break 50% in her state's primary as she faced a challenge from the left from Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter. In the subsequent run-off contest many considered Lincoln to be a goner. Lincoln withstood the challenge - largely with the help of the consummate centrist, Bill Clinton. So the more liberal incumbent loses in W. VA and the moderate incumbent wins in AR. It's not just an anti-incumbent year.
Gallup further shows Republicans with a 5 point lead over Democrats on the generic ballot question - historically, Republicans rarely lead the generic ballot.