Mark Twain famously said that he didn’t belong to any organized political party. He was a Democrat.
I thought about that trope when I read this morning about the surprising upset of Republican Jane Corwin by her Democratic challenger Kathy Hochul, in a very conservative Congressional district in upstate New York. Only this time, it’s not Twain’s party that doesn’t have its act together. And this race was illustrative of the dastardly challenges the Republicans face in winning back the House and the Presidency in 2012.
Hochul–who trailed by a wide margin a few weeks ago–managed to make the race a referendum on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare. But as surprisingly effective as that strategy seemed to be, there’s little doubt that the Democratic upset wouldn’t have happened without a guy named Jack Davis, a Tea Party candidate who got 9 percent of the vote.
Think of what this means for the Presidential race in 2012. First, the Republican base–surprise!–doesn’t mind the welfare state so much when it starts to affect their pocketbooks, which could greatly constrain the rhetoric the eventual nominee. But the more intriguing notion is that the race is likely to have a Tea Party representative. It just seems very unlikely that somebody–Michelle Bachmann? Ron Paul?–won’t jump into the race, if only to burnish their credentials as a future Fox News personality.
Does anybody think Mitt Romney or Time Pawlenty can beat President Obama by 9 points in Ohio?