Election Day Downer for Republicans

May 20th, 2010 at 7:47 am David Frum | 37 Comments |

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My latest column for The Week looks at what went wrong for the GOP on election night.

It’s hard to say which is worse: Republican Tim Burns’ loss to the Democrat in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District or Rand Paul’s win in the Kentucky Senate Republican primary. …

The Republican theory of the 2010 election has been that the party does not need a positive agenda of its own. In this non-presidential election, sildenafil Republicans need only be the party of “hell no,” incessantly attacking the Obama record. That theory may yet prove correct in November. But it took a nasty knock Tuesday night.

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37 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    ……..David’s analysis isn’t far off the mark about the political implications of Tuesday…….even Boehner as good as admitted it yesterday…….despite all the noise and antics from the right Americans want competent govt and they are not going to elect whackoes with no solutions other than obstructionism and idiocy

  • Slide

    I think the primary victory of Rand Paul is great. For Democrats that is. So the Republican KY Senatorial nominee doesn’t agree with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and thinks that private companies should have the right to discriminate against anyone they want. Want to not allow blacks to eat at your restaurant? Fine with Rand Paul. Wonderful for the GOP. Absolutely wonderful.

  • TerryF98

    The death of the Democratic majority in November is and was a fiction driven by the media who love a comeback story and even more crave conflict.

    In reality it will prove to be a false story.

  • aDude

    This gives the Democrats a national strategy. Just take Paul’s quotes to each state and have the Republican candidate asked if he agrees with them. If they say no, they anger the Tea folks. If they say yes they anger everyone else. Something tells me Obama secretly contributed to the Paul campaign…

  • Stewardship

    Frankly, Boehner needs to step down as Minority Leader. His stunt last year, holding up for camera’s the GOP’s budget proposal–which turned out to be an empty notebook with not one number written in it–is as symbolic of his leadership as is his fake tan.

    What is so troubling for me is to see so many long time GOP members of Congress, whom I respected, follow him right off the cliff.

  • bamboozer

    Frumster speaks the truth, again! Rand Paul will prove his own worst enemy every time he opens his mouth. That and the timing is bad on the “Hell No!” strategy. The worst part is Americans still have bright memories of Conservative rule and most don’t want to go back.

  • Smarg

    All you left wingers and Barry Soreoto apologists are going mad knowing that your time for ejection will come this November. Frum, how could you turn the Republican victories into a “downer”?? This article is absurd.

  • Smarg

    And Slide, the Civil Rights Act started the massive welfare spendathon that ruined us. Public schools were destroyed by subsidized illegitimacy, forcing tens of millions of families into private academies, and the list goes on.

  • ottovbvs

    Smarg // May 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    ……..oh boy…..the pointy hats have showed up

  • Smarg

    ottovbvs // May 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

    No, just the liberal love fest has a mole in it now.

  • ottovbvs

    Smarg // May 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

    “No, just the liberal love fest has a mole in it now.”

    ……..perhaps someone should tell you that the point of being a mole is to be invisible…….no one is going to miss you with that white pointed thing on your head

  • Slide

    Ahhhhh, I love it when the racists are flushed out of their little holes. So smarg thinks segregated public schools are a good thing. How very teabagger of you. Why don’t you just call yourself the old, cranky, white guy party?

  • TerryF98


    Migoper is that you. You typed “Frum Forum” instead of “stormfront”

    Go back to school and learn how to spell.

  • Smarg

    Slide and Otto, best thing you two can do is actually go to an area…I dunno, pick one…that was created by government money…like East St. Louis, Compton, New Orleans, Cleveland, Toledo, D.C., the list is endless…and see the results of your progressive liberalism. They are wastelands of crime, drugs, and thugs, and they multiply for free every day.

    Lemme guess…your kids go to private schools and you live in a gated community.

  • balconesfault

    Smarg: the Civil Rights Act started the massive welfare spendathon that ruined us

    Wow – I always thought that this was blamed on FDR. I’m not sure how you get from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which forbade job discrimination and the segregation of public accommodations, to welfare, except that they ran in parallel.

    Public schools were destroyed by subsidized illegitimacy

    Damn. I forgot my crazy->English decoder ring at home.

    Can anyone translate that for me?

  • yvonne

    Smarg is someone who is unhappy with his circumstance and wants to blame others. He talks about The T Party still rejoicing over Scott Brown’s election. Except even T Party leaders said they’re NOT sure about Brown because after donating $350,000 of “corporate” money to Brown’s campaign he has NOT given them any recognition. Brown also voted with Dems on a few ocassions. He skipped the Palin T Party event in Boston. He also doesn’t embrace T Party candidates.
    I don’t know what Smarg is “reveling” in. Unless it’s one of the few things he can hang on to. The PA-12 race was the real story from Tuesday. Not Rand Paul (Son of the original T Party candidate Ron Paul) winning in a Red State in a Republican Primary. Where is the “surprise” in that. Socially conservative voters in a swing state voting a Dem back in office by 8 pts. when Republicans said the election was the beginning of Dems demise is a “Big” kick in the Butt for Republicans.

  • dante

    David, you should know that anytime a politician tries to run against someone as opposed to running for something, they almost invariably lose. Bush had dismal approval ratings in ’04, and Kerry tried to run as “not Bush”, and still lost. By a wider margin than Gore lost 4 years earlier. Obviously if someone feels strongly enough against a politician they’re going to go vote against him/her/it. However, if someone feels strongly FOR a politician, they vote, they drag their spouse to vote, they encourage their friends to vote, they may even donate time and money to the candidate, etc.

    Right now, the GOP has put forth zero ideas… (actually, as a former Republican I haven’t felt that they’ve put forth a worthwhile idea since 2000) The closest thing they came to providing a plan for the deficit was Paul Ryan’s blueprint where he advocated privatizing SS and gutting Medicare (and not surprisingly, it attracted very little GOP support). Their “health care plan” was roundly criticized by the CBO as not doing anything to actually lower health care costs (limiting lawsuits and purchasing across state lines had little affect on the overall price we pay), they have held almost no position on Financial Reform except NO (oooh, and getting rid of F & F), etc.

    I personally believe that’s because any of the GOP’s positions that they would take would be WILDLY unpopular, from supporting Wall Street against any reform, further tax cuts in the face of massive deficits (Cheney’s “deficits don’t matter” quote rings especially hollow right now), an interventionist military policy, a focus on hard-right-wing social views when the public cares more about jobs and the economy, etc. So instead of sticking to an unpopular position, they’re trying to just say “NO” and win by default. However, it’s a LOOOOOONG time between now and November, and fluffy, information-less ads aren’t going to cut it for the next 6 months when voters want real solutions, real options, and real government. I know I do.

  • medinnus

    It wasn’t six weeks after the national elections, where the GOP took a significant drubbing, before the GOP announced “We’re back! Beware Democrats in 2010″. Their policy since then has to demonize and attempt to illegitimize their democratically-elected President, oppose him categorically, earning themselves the label “The party of NO!”.

    Historically, incumbent parties in a non-Presidential election cycle don’t do well. Even with no opposition, the Democrats were going to trend downwards in 2010.

    The Tea Party has no coherent message to the middle. Slogans of “Cut Taxes” only go so far when they aren’t backed up with specifics. “Repeal Healthcare” is likewise a non-starter. They’re not making strides, and things like the nonsensical Maine GOP platform and Rand Paul do more to help Democratic turnout than anything else.

    The GOP are making predictions of HUGE successes in November, and no doubt have their excuses ready for when it doesn’t happen.

    So far, they haven’t shown THIS Reagan/Bush Sr. era Republican/Conservative that they’ve learned anything from the Bush/Cheney years. They aren’t serious, and they aren’t ready to govern. I think they need to be humiliated at the polls for another election cycle before they get the idea, and if that doesn’t happen (the learning), then they’ll deserve the continued marginalization they’re pursuing.

  • easton

    outside of Philly, think Alabama only more Catholic, with more hunters, and without the accent. I am a pro-life, pro-nat. sec. Democrat from Pa. Democrats have a ton of Conservative Democrats, they are called blue dogs, and a lot of them represent Republican leaning districts, if a lot of them manage to hold on to their seats it will be a very long night in Nov. so I have a question for you. Will you say it is not a huge loss since many of these Congressmen are Conservative Democrat? That is ridiculous.

    Now congrats to Mr. Summers for manning up. Wishful thinking is not good analysis. If he had done some good analysis before hand he would have realized that Toomey was running unopposed with the Specter/Sestak being the marquee matchup so naturally more Democrats were going to turn up at the polls. Murthanomics is huge in the district, in 2008 Malkin was predicting Murtha would go down in an upset because of all the grumblings of dissatisfaction (Murtha basically called his district racist and redneck) but instead he won by 16%, there was also a contested Primary in Pa. 12 so Burns had to fend off a Republican challenger, so perhaps there were Republicans who supported his primary opponent who opted out of voting for Burns in the general, or even voted against him (in the heat of a moment such resentments are possible)

    So I would agree it is not a great victory for the Dems. Dems. have less reason to be pessimistic in the fall (or as pessimistic) and might hold their losses to 25 in the House and 5 in the Senate.

  • easton

    sorry, meant to say cross posted from another thread and forgot to edit it properly. hit send too quickly.

    And smarg, learn some history, it wasn’t the Civil Rights act or the Voting rights act, it was Johnson’s War on poverty programs. Good lord, makes some distinctions. Conservatives can make an argument about those, but you totally screw it up, why didn’t you just say it was Kennedys moon landing program instead? It would be about as valid a critique as blaming it on the Civil rights act.

  • Cforchange

    Yes yvonne – add Sestak to the kick in the pants. But the rational will be to add Pennsylvania to the list of areas created by “govenment money”, just a “wastelands of crime, drugs, and thugs, and they multiply for free every day”.

    The GOP is just packed with charasmatic communicator’s. These people magnets are just growing the party by leaps and bounds.

  • msmilack

    good point david.

  • AMurphy


    Terrfic points. Yes, Paul Ryan may be the only honest Republican on Capital Hill, it is quite interesting that he has not become the poster boy for the Tea Party movement. They claim they want to cut spending and not raise taxes, Ryan’s Plan does just that, but it requires us eating spinach, not ice cream. Ryan understands that with over 50% of the entire federal budget going to entitlements, that is the place to start. Tea Partiers who think rolling back Obamacare, ending the Stimulus Bill spending and getting rid of earmarks is all we need to do, when in fact, abolishing everything Obama has done since Janurary 2009 would simply put us back to a $1.2 trillion budget deficit which is what the budget deficit was the day he was sworn into office.

  • Smarg

    Just like 2004 when Bush got re-elected, we will see the liberal’s heads explode in anger after this fall’s elections. Hee!

  • easton

    AMurphy, Paul Ryan is honest? He is manifestly not honest. His health care plan is all smoke and mirrors, it guarantees access to insurance, which is ridiculous since we all have access by way of phone, internet, or walking into an agent, but it doesn’t guarantee issue. And notice how his plan does not kick in for a number of years, if it is a great idea do it now, don’t kick the can down the road. And his capping the fees will never play, I know it and he knows it. The Republicans had a fit when Obama cut Medicare advantage, you really think they will cut Medicare? Essentially Ryan is saying eat Ice Cream now, but 10 years from now eat Spinach. Read it, his proposal was slated to start in 2021. It is a farcical joke.

  • LFC

    Easton said… outside of Philly, think Alabama only more Catholic, with more hunters, and without the accent.

    I live in PA, and the description I always loved was “Pittsburgh on the left, Philadelphia on the right, and West Virginia in the middle.”

  • easton

    Smarg, are you 12 years old? Seriously. Do you have anything whatsoever to contribute besides childish snark? I am a Democrat and my head didn’t “explode” in 2004, I mean seriously, Bush defeated Kerry. If you thought Democrats were enthusiastic for him you are crazy. To be honest, I was relieved when Bush was re-elected, because I knew the day of reckoning for him and his failed policies was coming due and he would be laid bare for the ineffectual man he was. Too late he began to understand the Chenyite ignorant wing was fundamentally clueless and he appointed actual grownups, like Gates and Paulson. They both made the best of horrific situations.

    By the way, it was Bush who made possible the health care plan that recently passed, one by being so bad that Democrats built up a huge majority in Congress, and two by creating a corrupt Medicare Prescription bill rife with potential cutbacks. Obama used 500 billion of the cutbacks to get the bill through the CBO. So thanks George and thank you Smarg. You have made the health care bill a reality.

  • Slide

    methinks smarg is doing a little trolling. No one can be this dumb.

  • AMurphy

    Or better yet easton, where were are these people in 2004 when Medciare Part D was passed? I don’t recall mass demostrations and ‘Tea Party’ rallies to protest the signing of that bill which was scored by the CBO to cost $1.2 trillion dollars between 2005-2015 and it was paid for by pure debt. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker called it, “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”

  • easton

    LFC, gotta remember that one.

    AMurphy, Rove thought Medicare part D would usher in an era of Republican dominance. Is there any greater abomination in western Democracy than Big Government Conservatism?

  • easton

    Slide, I agree. Why bother to post if you got nothing real to contribute besides petty snark and childish insults? It needn’t be anything substantial, but it should possess something of value (Like LFC’s witticism above, which is more succinct than what I wrote) Is it a plea for any kind of attention? this is why I stay away from the comments section at The Daily Beast, so many trolls there who have nothing to say besides ad hominem attack. At least here I learn things from some posters.

  • DFL

    It looks like Republican House gains will be restricted to seats lost in the debacles of 2006 and 2008- 30 or so seats. If the tide is really good and the economy double-dips(look at the Dow at the moment), the Republicans could consceivably win the House by a seat or two.

  • LFC

    One thing that I think has gotten WAY out of hand is the desperate attempt to package every election into trends and/or movements. What if maybe, just maybe, Tim Burns and Trey Grayson were inferior to Mark Critz and Rand Paul as political candidates? What if they ran worse campaigns? What if local issues drove things more and so the results don’t really map to national politics at all?

    This overwhelming need to turn every single race into a national referendum seems more like a thoughtless method of generating political op-eds.

  • M Dodge Thomas

    One major problem this creates is that Republican candidates in swing states can now be asked “Do you agree with Rand Paul on X”, where X is an electoral poison pill with independent voters in the state or district.

  • Smarg

    Oh easton, get a grip. Bush was a huge disappointment when he failed to address the illegal immigrant issue and started the bailouts in 2008. But, he did keep us safe.

    And, the Republican controlled congress will repeal all of Barry Soreoto’s reparations laws starting in January of 2011. Bets are on when the great Kenyan Teleprompter Reader will play the race card after that. It will be fun to watch.

  • easton

    Smarg, hey, Bush kept us safe? Except for 9/11, and mismanaging the war (didn’t exactly keep those soldiers as safe as he could have, did he?) and letting hundreds of people die in New Orleans, and helping create a devastating financial crisis which has led to millions of lost jobs, and on and on. Yeah, ignoring all of that I suppose not personally dying is about as low a bar as can be set, but ok. then I didn’t die. Kudos to Bush. And I guess that means Obama has kept us safe for nearly 2 years too. Oh wait. You could never admit that.

    Look, the last 2 years of Bush, the surge, failed immigration reform (I suppose I could give some credit for trying, hurrah) and Tarp did keep Bush from the actual bottom rung down to the lowest 1/4 of bad Presidents.

    As to repeal. Ha ha ha. Thanks for the laugh. Dude, the next few decades are going to be a bad dream for you, (that is until you die) especially after the Republicans Cameronize the party (most likely in 2016). The 19th century is long past, if you are so enamored of limited Government, might I suggest Somalia or Haiti? Wait, check Haiti, they actually still have slavery there and teabaggers would jump at the chance to own a slave so I don’t want to give you any ideas.

    Again, what a completely useless posting by you. Subliterate and devoid of anything remotely approaching intelligent analysis. Barry Soroeto? For one, at least learn how to spell it correctly, it is Soetero. And two, that is his sisters maiden name, not his name. His last name is Obama, He never changed his name so why the utter stupidity. Do you think Soroeto is a funny name? How sadly pathetic. Anyway, enough of you. You are beginning to bore me.

  • ottovbvs

    DFL // May 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    “If the tide is really good and the economy double-dips(look at the Dow at the moment),”

    ………The economy (which isn’t the stock market!) is doing very nicely thank you…….the Dow was due for a bit of a correction and this one has been sparked by European debt problems and Germany’s suddenly announced unilateral ban on naked shorting which probably reminded everyone that the US is about to pass a bunch of legislation that is going to cramp Wall St’s style somewhat…….at least until they figure a way to get around some of it