Critical Condition

Reflections on Tuesday Night

It’s a sign of how good things are right now for the cause of limited government and liberty — among the electorate, though clearly not in Washington — that on a night when President Obama’s support once again failed to lift a candidate to victory (the loathsome Arlen Specter) and a “Tea Party candidate” won a Republican primary (Rand Paul), the Democrats are taking solace in having won Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.

Slate’s John Dickerson even goes so far as to describe that district as being “Republican-leaning.” Actually, it went for the Democratic presidential candidate by an average of four percentage points across the last three presidential elections (Obama lost by 1 point, Kerry won by 2, and Gore won by 11) and hasn’t been held by a Republican congressman since the Nixon administration. If that’s a Republican district, then the Democrats are going to have to steal a lot of them in the fall.

And yet, in winning a district that is relatively centrist but clearly Democratic-leaning, the Democrats ran a candidate, Mark Critz, who clings to his guns, opposes abortion, and says he wouldn’t have voted for Obamacare. Still, on the MSNBC blog, Mark Murray writes, “If the GOP couldn’t win here — the only congressional seat that John Kerry won in ’04 but Obama lost in ’08 — it’s not going to have an easy time netting the 40 House seats in November it needs to retake the House.” It would be far more accurate to say that if this year’s dynamics require Democrats to run an anti-abortion, anti-Obamacare candidate even to win a Democratic-leaning district, then things certainly look bright for Republicans in November.

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