07 Nov 2009

The Democrats’ Mandate Gap

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Rich Lowry makes the same point, observing that the democrats are operating on the basis of a mandate for radical change that they never had.

On November 3, the fairy tale died. The election results in Virginia and New Jersey dismantled the self-satisfied, just-so story that Democrats have been telling themselves about last year’s election.

The story goes like this: In 2008, Americans voted for change not just in the nation’s leadership, but in its fundamental political orientation. They wanted a shift to the left not seen since 1932. The nation’s political map had been utterly transformed. Barack Obama owned the suburbs and independents, and laid claim to formerly secure Republican states. An outdated GOP had been reduced to a rejectionist husk clinging to rural areas and the South.

A more modest rival interpretation explained it differently: A charming young man running against a Republican party debilitated by its association with an unpopular war and a politically toxic incumbent won a solid 7-point victory nationally. He sounded reasonable and moderate, and won for his party something important, if not necessarily epoch-making: a chance to govern after the other side had blown it.

The Republican sweep of the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey is flatly incompatible with the first, heroic interpretation of 2008. If things changed so fundamentally, they wouldn’t have snapped back so quickly.

Read the whole thing.

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