Well, I'm not sure how much we can legitimately learn from yesterday's election results. We got our butts kicked, and good (and that's to say nothing of the 1st District, which I'll speak to once we have a result). Here are some of the lessons learned from the 2008 Presidential Election.
- Democrat Light is no way to go: Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of the calls of the Anybody but McCain camp from 2006 looked increasingly prescient. McCain was never a darling of conservatives due to his generalized support of larger government. Sure, McCain always stood up for lower tax cuts and an end to pork-barrel spending, but his comments and support of the Wall Street Bailout were consistent with many big government positions that he has taken over the years.
What the American public told Republicans yesterday was that when Republicans race toward the center in an effort to look like Democrats...voters select the genuine article.
- The Republican Brand Sucks: We have talked extensively about the branding of the Republican party over the years, and I'm pretty sure that the value of the brand has reached its post-Watergate era nadir. I said back in July:
the problem with Republican politics in the 21st century is not the ideology of conservatism, but leadership that itself is not conservative. Once we figure out how to fix that, Republicans will reassume the mantle of ascendancy that we lost when Congressional leadership went native a few years back.And it's pretty clear that we didn't do a very good job of that recently. Just take a look at the results and you'll see that. How else can you explain losses in North Carolina, a near loss in Georgia, a razor thin win in Missouri. These are Republican strongholds in Presidential Elections, and we couldn't hold on to them. It's not because these voters aren't naturally conservatives, it's just that they could no longer tell the differences between the Democratic Party and their own.
- Sarah Palin saved the day: Anybody who thinks that Sarah Palin lost this election is out of their mind. This election was realistically over not too long after the convention, we can see from hindsight. And let's face it, can you look me in the eye and tell me Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, or anybody else would have made a significant difference in the outcome, enough to tip the election? Of course not. People blaming this loss on Sarah Palin simply do not understand electoral politics.
What Sarah Palin did do, however, is energize the conservative base. When conservatives are energized, they go to the polls, and take their friends and family to the polls with them. And what that did was get enough conservatives in the booth voting for downballot Republican candidates, particularly members of Congress. It seems pretty likely that the reason that we lost but 12 seats in the House of Representatives is squarely because of Sarah Palin.