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Let’s review the bidding quickly:1. The 26th Congressional District in New York State isn’t just any old district. It’s Jack Kemp’s old district. The lines of the district were drawn the way they were drawn so that the district would elect a Republican to Congress.
The district voted, overwhelmingly, for Carl Paladino in the 2010 gubernatorial election. By overwhelmingly, I mean that Mr. Paladino received more than 60% of the vote, in an election that Mr. Cuomo won (statewide) by 63%-to-33%. Mr. Paladino is viewed by a large number of New York pols as a lunatic. Mr. Paladino ran nearly 20 points better in the district in 2010 than Jane Corwin did last night.
2. The vaunted GOP machine couldn’t produce 50,000 votes. In the 2010 US Senate race, a man named Joe DioGuardi received 99,291 votes from the 26th Congressional District. Mr. Paladino received 126,968 votes from the 26th Congressional District. Senator John McCain, in the 2008 presidential race, received 166,913 votes. That gives you some idea of the operational incompetence of the Republican Party, both nationally and locally. If the GOP had produced 50,000 votes for its candidate, Jane Corwin, she would have won the election. In the event, she got roughly 44,000 votes. That’s an embarrassment. A competent Get-Out-The-Vote operation would have made the 50,000 number with ease.
3. Republicans have to understand that the end-game of the Medicare issue is that they lose. They lose seats and they may lose majority status in the House (not likely, but not impossible). And that they only begin to win on the issue when it’s clear that they’re willing to take the losses. Rep. Paul Ryan’s most recent video on this subject is still too focus-grouped and message-tested to be effective.
If the House GOP is going to go down this route (a big “if”), then they have to go all in. The message is: “we’re going to stand this ground, we’re going to lose elections because of it, but we will not lie to you. Medicare is going broke. If we don’t change it, it will collapse and and it will take the country down with it.” The GOP’s current Medicare strategy only works if a string of defeats in special elections and next year’s Congressional elections are built into the strategy. The GOP doesn’t gain the high ground until it proves that it is willing to absorb the losses.
4. Politicians would rather kill themselves than follow a strategy that puts their careers at risk. So point #3 above is never, ever, in a million years never going to happen.
5. Democrats have a big opening to position themselves as the responsible caretakers of Medicare and Social Security, the two most important social “safety net” programs. They will only realise the benefits of this opening if they get serious about cutting the Federal deficit in half over the course of the next 10-15 years. If they do that (occupy the position of fiscal sanity and responsibility), they will push the GOP off its rightward deep-end.
Of course, Democrats will never do that, so it’s moot.