Some notes from yesterday’s elections:
Congrats to Francine Busby, her supporters, and all the folks from around the ‘net who helped her run a great effort yesterday in Duke Cunningham’s district in the CA-50. Busby hurt herself after her gaffe on voting and “papers”, and things may have been different had turnout been closer to 50% instead of the pathetic mid to upper thirties it appears to be. She gets another shot at now-incumbent Brian Bilbray in November when turnout will be higher, but unless the national tide and a poor start by Bilbray assists her, it isn’t clear what would propel her now into an upset later this year. Still, even with low turnout and the “papers” comment, she came within five points in a heavily GOP district, and made the NRCC spend $4.5 million in the closing weeks just on defeating her. Running on some clearly identified core issues and being more saavy on immigration as a legitimate issue in the district may help her next time.
Although Steve Westly would have been a better general election opponent against Arnold Schwarzenegger than Phil Angelides, especially on TV, Angelides will run a tough and focused campaign. Schwarzenegger will pound Angelides for being a tax and spend liberal beholden to special interests, while he, Arnold, will say in effect “I am simply doing the peoples’ business, and don’t pay attention to my foray into right wing lunacy last year.” Will it work? Stay tuned.
Montana GOP senator Conrad Burns will face Democratic challenger Jon Tester, rather than John Morrison in November. As a result, expect Burns to lose a close race to Tester, and count this as a strong Democratic pickup opportunity along with Bob Casey’s thrashing of Little Ricky in Pennsylvania. As David Sirota notes, seeing Tester thrash Morrison with the help of a great grassroots and netroots effort sends a message to the Beltway Democrats.
Back to Busby for a moment. After days of nervous stories from GOP insiders about how the Democrats were succeeding in defeating the GOP’s efforts to keep all of these races local for November, note how quickly the GOP’s unofficial mouthpiece, ABC’s “The Note”, took the CA-50 contest results and adopted the GOP line for November:
The Democratic on-the-record and not-so-on-the-record responses (the Republicans were forced to put a lot of resources in the race, Bilbray underperformed Bush 2004, Busby's last-minute gaffe was costly and she wasn't such a great candidate, it's a very conservative district and Democrats will pick up our seats in Bluer quarters, look at how Busby performed with independents, etc…) are, trust us, not worth a warm bucket of anything.
Bottom line: Bilbray's victory shows that although Republican incumbents are running in a nasty national environment and although they are expected to lose some seats in November, the GOP is still favored to hold onto its majorities in both chambers because of several baked-in-the-cake advantages, including money, few retirements, safely-drawn seats, and a party apparatus that is adept at turning campaigns to local issues and turning out voters through micro targeting and hard work.Post that on your bulletin board for November. But remember this: whatever the Note says in repeating Carl Forti and Tom Reynolds’ talking points, after the GOP was forced to spend nearly $10 million so Bilbray could win by five points in a low-turnout election isn’t worth a warm bucket of anything the day after the election.