Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WaPo: 5 Myths About an Election of Mythic Proportions

Washington Post: The 2008 presidential election ended less than two weeks ago, but the mythmaking machine has already begun to churn. President-elect Barack Obama transformed the face of the electorate! The Republican Party will be a miserable minority in Congress for the next century! Cats and dogs are now living together! Below we explode the five biggest myths that have already sprung up around the election that was.

1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.

There's no question that losing six Senate seats and 24 House seats (not to mention the White House) wasn't a step forward for the Grand Old Party. But there are two good reasons to believe that Republicans will be back on their feet sooner than many people expect.

First, much of the Republicans' permanent political class has concluded that electing Sen. John McCain as president would have amounted to applying a Band-Aid to a gaping wound. Given the state of the party -- bereft of a signature new idea and without many fresh faces -- plenty of Republican operatives have come to subscribe to what I'd call [a rebuilding theory]: . . . "It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die," he says -- a sentiment echoed by many Republicans these days, who argue that hitting rock bottom was the only way to allow new faces and ideas to emerge.

Second, historical electoral patterns suggest that Republicans could pick up a passel of Senate and House seats in 2010 -- the first midterm election under President Obama. Every president (save one) since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 has lost seats in the House in his first midterm election.

2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama's victory.

. . . Exit polling suggests that there was no statistically significant increase in voting among either group. Black voters made up 11 percent of the electorate in 2004 and 13 percent in 2008, while young voters comprised 17 percent of all voters in 2004 and 18 percent four years later. [a two percent increase of blacks is 18%]. . . .

3. Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era.

. . .You see a heavy influx of moderate to conservative members in the incoming freshman Democratic class, particularly in the House. . . .81 House Democrats in the 111th Congress will represent districts that Bush carried in 2004. . . .The first rule of politics is survival, and if these new arrivals to Washington want to stick around, they are likely to build centrist voting records between now and 2010.

4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year.

. . .Why not? Three words (and a middle initial): President George W. Bush. . . .

5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.

Love her or loathe her, the data appear somewhere close to conclusive that Palin did little to help -- and, in fact, did some to hurt -- McCain's attempts to reach out to independents and Democrats. But just because Palin doesn't appear to have helped McCain move to the middle doesn't mean that picking her was the wrong move. . . .

Enter Palin, who was embraced with a bear hug by the party's conservative base. All of a sudden, cultural conservatives were thrilled at the chance to put "one of their own" in the White House. . . .

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