A series of family medical issues have ensured that blogging has been impossible this week. As penance, here is my First Things column on something that populist conservative candidates can learn from Abe Lincoln.
One quick thought on the Senate:
Obama’s unpopularity, combined with the studied blandness of most of the Republican Senate candidates, combined with the playing field (a lot of red state Senate seats that the Democrats have to defend) should lead to a wave election. That seems to be how it is playing out in red states like Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana. Even purple states like Iowa and Colorado are in play – and it looks to me that the Republican candidates are in a strong position in those states. What is striking is how many Republican-controlled seats are in play in red states. You have Kentucky, Georgia, and Kansas. By all rights, 2014 should look like a slightly milder version of 2006, when the Democrats swept the blue and purple Senate seats where the races were competitive and even took a run at deep red Tennessee, Were there any Democrat-held, blue state Senate seats that were this close this late in 2006? I read some chatter about Minnesota and Maryland, but neither of those races tuned out to be even close. You can point to unusual circumstances in each of the four Republican-held red state seats that are in play, but something is off if this many Republican-held seats in Republican-leaning states (two with incumbent senators) are going down to the wire.
I still think that the GOP is going to have a very good election night when it comes to the Senate – though I think it will happen by winning a lot of races by very small margins. But that victory should not obscure an underlying weakness. In 2008, the GOP had a tough time holding on to the Georgia seat that is currently being contested. That was during a Democratic wave election. Now Republicans are left hoping that a Republican wave will just barely bring in that same Senate seat.