Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Improper Characterizations

Fred Barnes, in the Weekly Standard, characterizes the GOP loses yesterday as a shellacking. However, the turnover in the House and probably the Senate are really no worse than any other loses in the third election cycle of a presidential terms.

Historically, the President's party will lost 25-30 seats in teh house and 3-5 seats in the Senate. So lets take a look, House Democrats will have a net gain between 25 and 29 seats and did slightly better than historic averages in the Senate. Hardly a shellacking.

What Barnes does point out and appropriately so, is the developing split of the country along North/South lines. The battleground for control of Congress and national policy is shifting to the west. This is troublesome in some respects, but less so in others.

Barnes writes:
What should worry Republicans most, however, is erosion of its strength in the West and in two states in particular: Colorado and Arizona. Fours years ago, Colorado was solidly Republican. Since then, Democrats have won a Senate seat, two House seats, the governorship, and both houses of the state legislature. At the state level, that's realignment.

In Arizona, Republicans dropped two House seats and Republican Senator John Kyl got a mild scare. Kyl, by the way, may be finest and most able senator in Washington. He's certainly in the top five. Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano cruised to victory.
First, I think that the shifts in Colorado and Arizona are not so much a realingment (at least in terms I believe to be realignment, but a consequence of the phenomenal growth in those states. In teh last census and reapportionment, Colorado picked up one Congressional seat and Arizona two. Colorado was also close in population growth to picking up a second. As teh population has grown, the politics have become a little more muddled.

A realignment is when groups that are traditionally inclined to support one party suddenly and dramatically begin supporting another. I see no signs that point to a realignment in either state. Rather, I see populations of one kind or another expanding and with that expansion comes shifts in political views.

To be sure, the developments are troubling for conservatives, particularly in light of Arizona's defeat of a same-sex marriage prohibition amendment. But at the same time, all is not lost.

In reality, while a crushing defeat, the election is not a shellacking of historic proportions nor are their any realignments in the works.

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