Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What Happened to the GOP defeat?

The special election in California’s 50th Congressional District to replace disgraced Duke Cunningham was a chance for the Dems to defeat the Republicans in a heavily Republican San Diego district and send shockwaves throughout the nation that would portend a Democratic sweep in the House and Senate in November. Instead, Republican Bilbray beat Democrat Busby 49.3-44.6 percent. Now the Republicans didn’t do as well as they normally do (this is a district where Bush pulled 55% in 2004), but in a district where a GOP congressman resigned in disgrace after numerous scandals in the headlines, Bush’s low poll numbers, and unhappiness with the GOP nationwide, this result is actually pretty good for the Republicans. The Democrats only managed to increase their share of the vote 0.5 %. Of course, this story will be buried in the back pages of several newspapers and relegated to the bottom of several news sites (A Democratic victory would have been heralded by the media as a sign of the GOP’s troubles and we would never hear the end of it). Either way, these off-season elections prove nothing. When Dem Stephanie Herseth won her race for Congress in SD in 2003, it was seen as a bellweather for Democratic victory, yet the Republicans expanded their majorities in the Senate and House. If this election means anything, it is a sign that the Republicans are still powerful and don’t count them out yet. The Democrats better not get too arrogant. Nothing can be taken for granted. And it shows that voters will elect Republicans who are tough on immigration (like Bilbray).