Greg Sargent writes:
While anti-incumbent sentiment was no doubt a factor in the stunning upset of Arlen Specter and the forcing of Blanche Lincoln into a runoff, isn’t it also possible that many Dem primary voters, even moderate ones, simply opted for the candidate who better represents mainstream Democratic positions?
Yes. It’s hard to frame this as failures of the Democratic establishment, which backed Lincoln and Specter, in the context of electoral chances for November. Yes, incumbents were rebuked, but it was so their constituents could have more liberal Democrats who stand closer to their beliefs. It can’t be shocking that Specter, who served as a Republic Senator for 29 years, did not win a Democratic primary!
Add in the PA-12, where Blue Dog Democratic voters elected a Blue Dog Democrat over a Republican, and things don’t look so bad for the party on whole; given the choice moderates are voting for Democrats in swing districts.
Let’s be clear: Sestak and Halter are no true progressives, which is why I haven’t spent a lot of time supporting their candidacies. But they are better than what we currently have in those states. While Democrats are pulled slightly to the left in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, we are seeing the Republican Party moving dramatically to the right in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Rand Paul and Pat Toomey are true extremists, perfect indications of the direction the GOP is headed in, lead by Glenn Beck and the Tea Partiers. Currently Congressional Democrats poll at 40%, which isn’t great, except when compared to Congressional Republicans, who poll at a Cheney-like 24%. I just don’t believe that the American public, writ large, is behind an even more radical version of the Republican Party, which is what the Tea Party is driving to do around the country.
As of now, it looks like the Democrats will give the public a chance to vote on what they currently have with slight shifts to the left in a number of states, while the GOP is going to present the public with a more radically conservative version of itself. While I still expect the Republicans to make gains in both the House and Senate, I continue to feel confident that Democrats will not fall victim to a 1994-style wave that throws them into the minority in either house. Obviously we will see what happens over the next five to six months and everything can keep changing, but off of last night’s strong Democratic performance, things look good.