Politico has a big article up that is getting a lot of attention on Memeorandum. It is basically warning Republicans that November landslides are not in the bag as evidenced by Mark Critz’s victory over Republican Tim Burns.
Politico: All the evidence pointing to monster Republican House gains this fall—the Scott Brown upset win in Massachusetts, the scary polling numbers in once-safely Democratic districts, the ever-rising number of Democratic seats thought to be in jeopardy—was contradicted Tuesday.
In the only House race that really mattered to both parties—the special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th District—Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition.
Given the resources the GOP poured into the effort to capture the seat and the decisiveness of the defeat—as it turned out, it wasn’t really that close—the outcome casts serious doubt on the idea that the Democratic House majority is in jeopardy and offers comfort to a Democratic Party that is desperately in search of a glimmer of hope.
The district itself couldn’t have been more primed for a Republican victory. According to one recent poll, President Barack Obama’s approval rating in the 12th was a dismal 35 percent, compared to 55 percent who disapproved. His health care plan was equally unpopular—just 30 percent of those polled supported it, while 58 percent were in opposition.[…]
Still, Democrat Mark Critz managed to pull off an eight-point victory, 53 percent to 45 percent, over Republican Tim Burns in a district that John McCain narrowly won in 2008—the only one in the nation that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and McCain four years later.
Tim Burns need not feel bad about his loss. In a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, an 8-point loss to a Democrat is nothing to sneeze at.
What Republicans must take away from PA-12 is that you cannot just rely on people fleeing the Democrats; you must also give them something to run to. This means articulating a clear conservative message and firmly standing behind it. In other words, you are going to need a little more than the Obama, Pelosi and Reid boogiemen argument.
The next lesson Republicans need to learn is not to allow Democrats to disguise themselves as conservatives. Critz, a Democrat running in a heavily Democratic district, made himself sound like he was Sarah Palin’s little brother. He ran as pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Cap and Trade and anti-ObamaCare. Republicans need only remind voters of all those so-called “moderate” blue-dogs who happily voted for Cap and Trade, the stimulus and ObamaCare. Put the simple question before the voters “can you really trust Democrat ____ to stay a moderate when they get to Washington”?
Final lesson for Republicans, deep blue districts are still deep blue districts. Yes, upsets do happen, but they are not the norm. Concentrate on winning back those red and purple districts unless there is strong signs that the Democrat cannot win. Otherwise expect the numbers to work against you.