Larison's take on the Democratic win in PA-12:
There are two major problems with the Republican approach to these House elections. The first is that they tend to ignore or dismiss the interests of the specific district where they are competing in order to make a statement about national party agendas. The national GOP wants these elections to be mandates against Pelosi/Reid’s agenda or Obama’s agenda, and the Democratic committees and party leadership are more concerned with winning the election contests. The second problem is that they don’t seem to understand that even in districts where Obama is not particularly popular and where most voters did not support him in 2008, such as PA-12, most voters are not interested in vindicating a pre-scripted anti-Obama narrative. So long as the Democratic candidates can present them with a more appealing message of continued government funding and the promise of economic support, they are not automatically going to rally behind the candidates of the more unpopular, discredited party.
You'd think there would be tea-party appeal in a red-state district with a departing incumbent about as earmark-laden as anyone on earth. And yet ... not. I do think there's an anti-government tide out there (I just wish it had stirred these past eight years) but I'm not sure it defines the politics of this moment. The cross-currents and eddies, especially if the economy really does recover some more, may complicate a lot. People love slashing government until you explain how you have to do it. In Britain, the Tories were admirably candid about this last fall. That's one reason they are in a Liberal-Democrat coalition government today.
In other words, people are pro-tea until they actually face up to what it would mean. And because elite conservatism has not staked out a feasible, concrete plan to tackle the debt, the space is left for the primal libertarian scream. But a scream is not an argument.
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