Who Won?

Matt Yglesias writes a couple of interesting posts. First on Mark Critz's special election win in PA-12:

Former John Murtha staffer Mark Critz’s win in the PA-12 House election is just straight-up embarrassing for Republicans. The Democratic strategy was straight out of the 2006/2008 playbook. Find a moderately conservative House district and run a somewhat heterodox Democrat. [. . .] Add up a shifting coalition of such members to the big block of solid House liberals, and Nancy Pelosi can put an effective governing agenda together.

Hmmm. In terms of issues, was this strategy a winner for progressives? As opposed to Dems? In the other post, Yglesias wrote:

I think the ideological stakes in the Pennsylvania Senate primary were not that high, but from an organization/momentum standpoint this is certainly a win for the netroots and liberal activists that should build credibility going forward.

(Emphasis supplied.) This seems inaccurate to me. It is true that some Netroots types worked for (literally) the Sestak campaign, but he was hardly a cause celebre. The key is Yglesias' first sentence - "the ideological stakes . . . were not that high." Actually there were no ideological stakes at all. This will become even more apparent as Sestak starts his inevitable sprint to the Center for the general election.

In electoral terms, the blogs had a good night last night, as the candidates they decided to root for won. The exception is the Arkansas Dem Senate primary, which was absolutely the focal point of Netroots ISSUE work. (Score one for the Firebaggers!) Lincoln's abysmal performance is both an ideological and tactical win for progressives. The chances of any Dem winning the Arkansas Senate race are not good, but Lincoln would have not had this primary problem (and a better chance in November) if she had not crossed progressives on issues.

Kentucky was a nice win for local Kentucky progressives. Hard to imagine the national Netroots mattered much at all in Jack Conway's win over Dan Mongiardo. But Conway's win was issue based it seems to me. He was clearly more progressive than Mongiardo. That said, Conway will also sprint to the Center for the General Election.

That's politics folks.

In the end, I still endorse this prism:

As citizens and activists, our allegiances have to be to the issues we believe in. I am a partisan Democrat it is true. But the reason I am is because I know who we can pressure to do the right thing some of the times. Republicans aren't them. But that does not mean we accept the failings of our Democrats. There is nothing more important that we can do, as citizens, activists or bloggers than fight to pressure DEMOCRATS to do the right thing on OUR issues.

And this is true in every context I think. Be it pressing the Speaker or the Senate majority leader, or the new hope running for President. There is nothing more important we can do. Nothing. It's more important BY FAR than "fighting" for your favorite pol because your favorite pol will ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS, disappoint you.

In the middle of primary fights, citizens, activists and bloggers like to think their guy or woman is different. They are going to change the way politics works. They are going to not disappoint. In short, they are not going to be pols. That is, in a word, idiotic.

Yes, they are all pols. And they do what they do. Do not fight for pols. Fight for the issues you care about. That often means fighting for a pol of course. But remember, you are fighting for the issues. Not the pols.

You win when your issues win, not when Obama, Sestak, Halter, Conway or Crtiz win. Did progressive issues win last night? In some races yes. In others? Not really.

Speaking for me only

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    I like Atrios' take on PA (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed May 19, 2010 at 08:45:52 AM EST
    "There are a lot of reasons Arlen managed to work his fake moderate game for so long, but I'm glad that era is over. I hope (and am mildly optimistic) that Joe Sestak will be a better senator than one might expect, but in any case getting rid of Arlen was a worthy goal in and of itself."

    I think it was definitely time for Arlen (none / 0) (#5)
    by Anne on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:10:52 AM EST
    to go, but I don't think it means Sestak now runs as any kind of liberal.

    And, if Sestak wins over Toomey, I don't know that we're likely to feel we've gained a particularly more progressive voice in the next Senate, but a lot may depend on what the Senate looks like, overall, when the new Senate convenes next January.

    If nothing else, these incumbent losses ought to send a loud signal that no one is entitled to be returned to public office on the basis of length of service alone.


    I don't think (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:02:54 AM EST
    that Critz's win was that big of blow to the GOP. It was after all Murtha's seat and he was Murtha's aide. Matt is spinning in circles about this one. It also shows that perhaps you are better off having the big dog campaign for you than Obama.

    I listened to Sestak's speech and I think that he has a good message. He's definitely a fighter which I think will motivate more Dems to come out in the fall in PA than Arlen would have.

    I think it's at least neutral (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jbindc on Wed May 19, 2010 at 10:16:31 AM EST
    There was no big Republican on the ballot ad they didn't have a primary, so it's hard to say if this was a "win" for the Dems or just a default.

    Considering (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Wed May 19, 2010 at 10:28:04 AM EST
    There was no Republican primary, and since Murtha brought home the bacon (and Critz was an aide to Murtha), this is no surprise.  The fun now begins as these same two candidates run against each other again in the general election in November.  We'll see then if Critz is tainted with the "anti-incumbent" brush then.

    What was the final spread in this pre-race? (none / 0) (#14)
    by christinep on Wed May 19, 2010 at 11:55:58 AM EST
    53.3-44.3 (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Wed May 19, 2010 at 12:28:38 PM EST
    A big spread, but that will narrow closer to election day and as Republicans actually cone out to vote.

    One can only hope! (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by mmc9431 on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:46:38 AM EST
    If some of our fellow Democrats see Lincoln and Spector being ousted, it might serve as a wake up call to them to remember what the "D" after their name represents.

    The other line of reasoning is that neither of them would have won in November. So if nothing else, there's at least a chance (however slim) of retaining the seat.

    A good moment (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by lilburro on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:55:48 AM EST
    Progressives opposed the OFA and won.  Hopefully Obama will respect progressives a little more (I doubt this but still).

    Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed May 19, 2010 at 01:28:44 PM EST

    Former John Murtha staffer Mark Critz's win in the PA-12 House election is just straight-up embarrassing for Republicans.

    The district was 2 to 1 dem registration.  Critz ran against Obamacare and against cap and tax.  

    Legacy Democrats (none / 0) (#18)
    by christinep on Wed May 19, 2010 at 04:54:39 PM EST
    I understand that the setback for Republicans in PA's 12th stems from several significant factors: The district swung from Democratic (Kerry) in 2004 to Republican (McCain) in 2008; President Obama's approval rating in that district is about 35%, Speaker Pelosi has even lower approval numbers, and the recent healthcare legislation had been considered unpopular there; and, PA 12 resembles other Appalachian areas with strong traditional values and economic populism. The registration numbers reflect holdover/legacy populism from the 1930s, not the voting patterns of recent years. With Murtha's passing and the demographics (see, in a similar vein, Kentucky, souther Indiana, parts of Tennessee, etc.) and recent polling showing Republican Burns with a decent-size lead, the district was expected to be in the Republican column by a lot of people.  So, Critz' win and the size of his win may well be "embarrassing for Republicans."

    Critz also (none / 0) (#19)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 20, 2010 at 10:44:44 AM EST

    Critz also called the Repub a tax raiser.  It seems that the guy with solid Repub positions on the issues won.

    Good comeback, but... (none / 0) (#20)
    by christinep on Thu May 20, 2010 at 02:39:31 PM EST
    he is a Democrat. (Also: As top aide to the late Democratic Congressman John Murtha, I have no doubt that Congressman Critz will act and vote in that same, solid Democratic fashion.) As for tax-raising, one of the biggest budget busters of all was Ronald Reagan...call it what it is.

    Biggest win of the night for me (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Wed May 19, 2010 at 08:59:55 AM EST
    was Conway over Mongiardo. Rarely is there ever so big of a good/bad divide in a primary.

    Obvioulsy (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:04:24 AM EST
    I haven't been keeping up with a lot of this but what do you think Conway's chances are in the fall? Have you kept up with that race? IMO, I don't think Rand Paul is a particularly good candidate for the general.

    The Conventional Wisdom (none / 0) (#6)
    by The Maven on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:26:14 AM EST
    and the limited polling data available so far seems to say that a Conway-Paul matchup presents the best chance for a Democratic pickup out of any of the four possible combinations we had before last night.  But it looks like critical points might be whether (1) Grayson can get behind Paul (who refused to take his concession call last night -- classy!) or (2) the old-school GOP establishment will give its full-throated support to a candidate who pretty clearly has contempt for the national party.  I would expect that this race should remain interesting all the way into November.

    Interesting (none / 0) (#8)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:38:59 AM EST
    and thanks for the info. Conway should make a note of recent events and not have Obama campaign for him and have the big dog campaign for him.

    If the GOP establishment in KY is anything like the GOP establishment here in GA i would wager that they will not put their support behind Paul. Oh, they'll say they are but the behind scenes action will probably be lukewarm at best. The GA GOP hates the "paulheads" because he was against the War in Iraq.


    What did I just hear about (none / 0) (#13)
    by christinep on Wed May 19, 2010 at 11:54:14 AM EST
    the suddenly victorious Paul @ a private country club for his victory party, defending the location to TeaParty types et al by referencing Tiger Woods playing at country clubs and being a role model for youth. Based upon that and the reported failure-to-take-concession-call, it may be this Libertarian persona needs a quick course in speaking and acting on the campaign trail.

    Score one for the "firebaggers" :) (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 19, 2010 at 09:36:26 AM EST
    I hate that label.  I do have a disabled kid though and as if all the surgeries and healings aren't difficult enough, I always have to fight and argue and threaten Humana....therefore I think Blanche should burn!

    Yesterday (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Wed May 19, 2010 at 01:03:51 PM EST
    Sean Trende of RCP had this analysis;

    Almost all election analysts now agree that 2010 will not be a good year for Democrats. The latest RCP Averages for the major Senate races show Republicans picking up 7 Senate seats (down from 8 one month ago). This is a striking reversal from the early months of Obama's presidency, when most forecasters were predicting Democratic gains.
    The House has shown similar movement. Early in the cycle, pundits predicted sunny days for the Democrats in November of 2010, with beltway forecasters like Charlie Cook ("Obama's Democrats are heading down a track much closer to 1934's [when they picked up seats]") and Stu Rothenberg ("[T]he chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero") arguing that major GOP gains were close to impossible. Today it is a different story, and Cook now believes that it is hard to see how Democrats keep the House, while Rothenberg sees a 25-30 seat pickup (with gains in excess of 40 seats possible). I see a 50-seat Democratic loss as the most likely outcome, with the potential for things to get considerably worse.

    One way to sort through these different scenarios is to examine what drives these losses for Democrats. Is 2010 shaping up to be an Anti-Incumbent, Anti-Liberal or Anti-Democratic year? This isn't easily reducible to statistical testing, but I think it goes a long way toward explaining whether Democrats will lose 20 seats, 50 seats, or 80 seats. 

    He goes on in length to breakout each scenario, which was very interesting.  I don't know his track record, but it was something to think about.