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Of Principalities and Powers ~ “Donkeys"

By tonyrussell - Posted on 12 November 2010

Childhood joke: What kind of keys can’t open a door?
Answer: Donkeys.

* * * *

“Channel 16 continues its election night coverage. Results are pouring in now that the polls have closed around the country. We take you now to Washington, DC, where Channel 16‘s Scott Wamsley is live at Democratic headquarters. Scott, what’s the mood there?”

“Erin, people have been gathered around the television, watching as results are announced from state after state. Excitement began to build early on, when it became apparent that Democrats were likely to lose the House, and champagne corks began popping once it became clear that Democratic losses are going to reach historic proportions. They may be able to lose the Senate as well, but right now several of those races are too close to call.”

“Is this what people there were expecting, Scott?”

“It is, Erin. As one Democratic staffer told me, ‘This is what we’ve been dedicated to for the past twenty-two months, but it’s all just a dream until election night rolls around.’”

“Scott, given that the number of registered Democrats is greater than the number of registered Republicans, and that women, young people, blacks, and Hispanics all lean heavily Democratic, how was the Democratic campaign team able to put together a disaster of this scope?”

“It was a downhill struggle, Erin. In 2008, they had created a powerful block of energized voters, attracted hordes of enthusiastic new voters and young people, and swept control of both houses of Congress along with the White House. They had the power to deliver all that people had been longing for during the Bush years. Party insiders tell me that crushing those expectations was their focus from day one.”

“What was their strategy, Scott?”

“Erin, they felt all along that the key was going to be voter turnoff. If they could just manage to disillusion enough people in their core constituencies, they knew they had a chance to pull this off.”

“Do you have any idea how large voter turnoff was, Scott?”

“It’s too early to have precise numbers, Erin, but preliminary figures show that the total votes for Republican candidates for the House fell by about eleven million from 2008, while the total for Democratic candidates fell by nearly thirty million.”

“That’s an enormous drop-off, Scott.”

“It is, Erin. In fact, nearly half the Democrats who voted in ’08 stayed home in 2010.”

“How were party leaders able to engineer such a huge collapse of support, Scott?”

“They had a plan, Erin. The campaign team worked closely with the Obama White House and the Democratic congressional leadership to identify key issues that would drive voter disillusionment. For the Democratic base, promoting economic opportunity, closing the widening income gap, halting home foreclosures, ending the Middle East wars, repudiating torture, and undoing Bush-era attacks on civil liberties were all priorities. Party operatives felt that by targeting those areas, consistently reneging on promises Obama made in the ’08 campaign, they could drive voter turnoff. Instead of delivering what they had led Democratic voters to expect in those areas, they either adopted the Bush policy
they had attacked, or ignored the issue altogether. I have to say that even they seem somewhat surprised by how well that strategy has played out.”

“Did they have any idea this was coming, Scott?”

“They did, Erin, although there’s always some uncertainty with these things. They were concerned that voters might not be paying close enough attention, but clearly, their worries were groundless.”

“Can you give us an idea what the new political landscape is going to look like, Scott?”

“Well, Erin, Republicans gained approximately 60 seats in the House, with about eight still too close to call. In the Senate, Republicans won 23 of the 36 seats at stake. Republicans also made huge gains at the state level, picking up governorships in Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. They also gained what looks like about 700 new seats in state legislatures, and took control of 19 more chambers of state legislatures.”

“Simply stunning results, Scott. Thanks for the report.”

“You’re welcome, Erin.”

“This is Erin Masters in Big Springs. As Democratic strategists celebrate in the background, we end this portion of our election night coverage. We’ll check in with Scott Beasley in Washington at Republican headquarters when we return from station break.”

© Tony Russell, 2010


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