07.31.2010 0

TimesCheck.com: Well-Funded Democrats Positioned to Avoid 1994 Scenario, NYT Says

  • On: 08/18/2010 01:26:48
  • In: Elections
  • Well-Funded Democrats Positioned to Avoid 1994 Scenario, NYT Says

    By Kevin Mooney

    Democrats are better prepared this time around for the mid-term elections than they were in 1994 when they lost control of congress and a sitting house speaker was defeated, The New York Times informs readers in a piece that is replete with wishful thinking and cheerleading.

    “Unlike 1994, when Republicans shocked Democrats by capturing dozens of seats held by complacent incumbents, there will be no sneak attacks this year,” the report observes. “Democrats have sensed trouble for more than a year, with the unrest from town-hall-style meetings last August providing indisputable evidence for any disbelievers. The result has been to goad many Democrats into better preparation: more fund-raising, earlier advertising, lots of time on the campaign trail.”

    This is partially true in that President Obama’s declining poll numbers have not translated over into public enthusiasm for the Republican Party. Special elections held earlier this year demonstrate that Democrats who hold out against overspending can prevail over uninspiring Republicans. Rep. Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, is very attuned to the policy preferences of his conservative district and voted against several Obama initiatives. He is cited as an example here of someone who Republicans will find difficult to dislodge. Fair enough.

    However, there is no escaping the growing danger to incumbent Democrats who have been complicit in advancing unpopular public policy measures.

    The Cook Political report, for instance, has seen an uptick in the number of House seats now leaning Republican. It also envisions a scenario in which Republicans could actually capture control of the Senate; something that was unthinkable to most analysts at outset of 2009.

    The Tea Party movement is symptomatic of a larger dynamic at work within the electorate that suggests the incumbent party could experience mid-term election losses much larger than the historical average. The comparison with 1994 makes for an appropriate and engaging story angle. After controlling the House for 40 consecutive years, Democratic leaders including House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) overlooked key national trends. This time around incumbents know they are trouble. The Times article implies that savvy campaign tactics and meticulous fundraising can blunt a Republican surge.

    “Many Democrats have raised more money so far this year than in the entire previous election cycle. They formed their campaign teams several months ahead of schedule and began running television advertisements earlier than ever,” the report says. “Realizing they could do little to improve the political climate, they are trying to fortify themselves with sharper tactics.”

    But the fundraising dollars are more the byproduct of concentrated special interests that continue to push for legislation the public does not want. A more balanced report that is not so dismissive of Republican prospects would at least mention the cozy relationship that exists between the Democratic Party leadership and organized labor. In the 2008 election cycle, over 90 percent of the contributions from Political Action Committees (PACs) went to Democrats. But that also occurred at a time when the Republican was down and out.

    That’s not the case in 2010. Despite sympathetic media treatment, Democrats appear to be losing against Republicans who embrace Tea Party principles. That’s the real story, but it’s not one that is likely to be reported in The New York Times.

    Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau and the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.

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