Magazine February 22, 2010, Issue

The Way of the Whigs?

Senator-elect for Massachusetts Scott Brown in Boston, Massachusetts, January 20, 2010 (Adam Hunger/Reuters)
Lincoln’s first political party dissolved, and so could today’s Republicans

Scott Brown’s improbable win in the Mas­sa­chu­setts Senate election is the latest and most dramatic evidence of the Republicans’ greatly improved electoral outlook. As polls have shown dissatisfaction with President Obama rising and Democratic leads in congressional generic-ballot polls shrinking or gone, GOP operatives have started 2010 with visions of 1994 dancing in their heads.

But a closer look at the data rings alarm bells. Recent polls also show that voters’ ratings of the Republican party and Republican members of Congress have barely budged and remain sharply negative: Greater support for GOP candidates has not meant greater support for the GOP

Henry OlsenMr. Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an editor at, and the author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism.

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