A Dark Lining in Every Silver Cloud

This is really just too much. As you'll recall, after the 2004 election we were greeted to an endless series of articles about the how the problem with the Democrats was that, stuck in the iron clutches of out-of-touch left-wing interest groups, they refused to nominate candidates who veered from the liberal orthodoxy on cultural issues, even in culturally conservative districts. This wasn't especially accurate, but never mind. Certainly, in the 2006 cycle, Democrats have tended to nominate candidates who are relatively culturally conservative in constituencies that are culturally conservative. That's how the game is played. But along comes The New York Times with the dire warning that "if candidates like Mr. Shuler do help the Democrats gain majority control of Congress, it could come at a political price, which may include tensions in the party between its new centrists and its more liberal political base."

Uh, okay.

A few things to note. One is that while this trend certainly is present -- ironically, much more pronouncedly so in Senate races than in the House ones that are the focus of the article -- a countertrend is also under way. Lots and lots of the endangered Republican seats involve center-left districts in the Northeast where voters are getting sick of the fraud caucus sham. Ask Chris Shays, or any umber of other endangered Republicans in Connecticut, New York, or Pennsylvania how they're feeling. The other point is that agenda control matters, especially in the House. A Hastert-run House gets to try and gin up votes on issues that are going to be awkward for marginal Democrats. A Pelosi-run House won't do that -- issues that are going to create problems for the Democrats just won't go to the floor. Instead, issues where Democrats are united but that put Republicans in awkward spots are going to be highlighted. That's a big part of the reason why control of the House matters.