The Real Lesson of the Ohio Election?
Dean Barnett (another conservative New Englander) has an excellent analysis in the Weekly Standard of the Democratic side of the recent Ohio special Congressional election, where a veteran Republican edged out a Democratic newcomer in a solidly Republican district. However, I think the real lesson for Republicans is contained in this paragraph from Barnett…
The Republicans nominated a veteran state senator, Jean Schmidt, who according to both friend and foe was a lackluster politician who subsequently ran a lackluster campaign. What’s more, Schmidt was saddled with the baggage of being a staunch supporter of Ohio’s wildly unpopular governor, Robert Taft, whose sole unique political talent seems to be an ability to alienate his state’s voters…Is Jean Schmidt the exception, or the rule? Maybe I’m over-generalizing from a few cases, but this seems to be part of a larger Republican problem. In Rhode Island’s last gubernatorial election, had the candidate of the party establishment won the primary, he would have almost certainly lost in the general election. Fortunately, he was so bad (as a candidate), he lost a primary challenge to Don Carcieri, who went on to beat the Democratic challenger.
Combine enough of these cases, and you start to develop a picture of a party that looks at nominations as a way to reward service, not as a way to win elections. It points to a top-down party, interested in building a disciplined machine for winning at the national level, but less concerned with winning locally. Eventually, this organizational philosophy drains the party of the grass-roots support need edfor long-term success.