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So you want to repeal Obamacare?

Ahoy hoy, Wizbangers, it's your resident RINO/DIABLO back to blaspheme against the Tea Party yet again. I'm actually not a RINO, though, I'm a Libertarian. But that's neither here nor there. And I'm not really here to blaspheme against the Tea Party. But the comments in the post I put up after the Delaware primary really had me scratching my head.

Just so everyone is clear, my main point was that this year's midterm may be a once-in-a-generation chance for Republicans to pick up a Senate seat in Delaware. I don't have any affinity for Castle and I don't have any real opinion at all on O'Donnell; all I know is the seat went from "likely Republican pick up" to "likely Democrat retention" on the RCP Senate tracker the day after she won. I come not to criticize O'Donnell, nor to chide Delawareans for their decision - as many commenters accused.

The running theme in the comments was, "So what if Republicans don't take the majority in the Senate. We need to purge all the RINOs from the party and show the party we won't stand for nominating a moderate when there's a more conservative candidate available, even if it is a historically deep blue state." I oversimplify, of course, but there were several commenters who said straight up that a Senate majority wasn't important, just recapturing enough seats to sustain a filibuster.

To which I say, Harry Reid didn't have a filibuster-proof majority when Obamacare was passed in the dead of night. But, controlling the Senate, he found a procedural way to get it through. To willingly sacrifice control of the Senate to "send the Republican party a message" is a fool's errand.

Naturally, I would like the Republican Party to be as economically conservative as possible; my question is what degree of conservatism can we expect a majority of ALL voters in deep blue states to accept in a statewide election?

Alright then? We can all agree that most economic conservatives want to repeal Obama care, right? Depending on the poll the same holds true for Independents. Sure, TARP was the first spark and the stimulus bill threw fuel on the fire. But Obamacare was what set the Tea Party off into a full-scale conflagration.

Since we can agree on the goal, all that remains is determining the best course of action to make repeal actually happen. Before we can seriously discuss making repeal a reality there are three requirements - a Republican President, a Republican majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate. Not just a majority, a filibuster-proof majority. The Dems will use every tool in their arsenal to prevent repeal. And getting to 60 seats is going mean accepting some Republican Senators who only vote with the Republican caucus 60% of the time.

I'll tell you why behind the fold...

I know some of you are spitting mad right about now. The very idea of Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in the Republican party makes you vomit with rage. But here's the thing. Replace them in the Maine Republican primary with someone sporting a 90+% ACU score and you're trading two R's who vote with conservatives 50% of the time for two D's who vote with conservatives zero percent of the time.

Hey, I don't like it any more than everyone else who fancies himself as an economic conservative. But to get to 60+ we're going to have to accept some moderates or RINOs or DIABLOs or whatever else you want to call them.

Do you know how many times the Republicans have held 60+ seats in the Senate since 1959 (when it expanded from 96 to 100 seats)? That would be zero. Never. A fifty-five seat majority is the largest Republicans have ever held.

So how can we reach the up-to-now unattainable filibuster-proof majority in state-wide Senator elections? Below is a table of the states sorted by their partisan index. Then to whom their electoral votes went in the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 election. Then the party makeup of their Senate delegation. The partisan breakdown data came from Cook Political Report and the rest was cribbed from different sources.

State	D/R %	96	00	04	08	Sen.
						
VT	D+13	C	G	K	O	D/D
HI	D+12	C	G	K	O	D/D
MA	D+12	C	G	K	O	D/R
RI	D+11	C	G	K	O	D/D
NY	D+10	C	G	K	O	D/D
MD	D+9	C	G	K	O	D/D
IL	D+8	C	G	K	O	D/D
CA	D+7	C	G	K	O	D/D
CT	D+7	C	G	K	O	D/D
DE	D+7	C	G	K	O	D/D
ME	D+5	C	G	K	O	R/R
WA	D+5	C	G	K	O	D/D
NJ	D+4	C	G	K	O	D/D
OR	D+4	C	G	K	O	D/D
MI	D+4	C	G	K	O	D/D
NM	D+2	C	G	K	O	D/D
WI	D+2	C	G	K	O	D/D
MN	D+2	C	G	K	O	D/D
PA	D+2	C	B	K	O	D/D
NH	D+2	C	B	K	O	D/R
NV	D+1	C	B	B	O	D/R
IA	D+1	C	G	K	O	D/R
CO	Even	D	B	B	O	D/D
OH	R+1	C	B	B	O	R/D
VA	R+2	D	B	B	O	D/D
FL	R+2	D	B	B	O	R/D
MO	R+3	D	B	B	M	R/D
NC	R+4	D	B	B	O	R/D
AZ	R+6	D	B	B	M	R/R
IN	R+6	D	B	B	O	R/D
GA	R+7	D	B	B	M	R/R
MT	R+7	D	B	B	M	D/D
SC	R+8	D	B	B	M	R/R
WV	R+8	D	B	B	M	D/D
TN	R+9	D	B	B	M	R/R
AR	R+9	D	B	B	M	D/D
SD	R+9	D	B	B	M	R/D
MS	R+10	D	B	B	M	R/R
LA	R+10	D	B	B	M	R/D
TX	R+10	D	B	B	M	R/R
KY	R+10	D	B	B	M	R/R
ND	R+10	D	B	B	M	D/D
KS	R+12	D	B	B	M	R/R
AL	R+13	D	B	B	M	R/R
AK	R+13	D	B	B	M	R/D
NE	R+13	D	B	B	M/O	R/D
OK	R+17	D	B	B	M	R/R
ID	R+17	D	B	B	M	R/R
WY	R+20	D	B	B	M	R/R
UT	R+20	D	B	B	M	R/R

What we see is that there are far more Democrat senators elected in even very heavily Republican partisan states than Republicans elected in partisan Democratic states. Likewise for presidential elections. There's some room for movement in the D+2 to R+2 range, but for whatever reason Democrats can win statewide races even in R+10 states while it takes a buffoon of cartoonish proportions like Martha Coakley to get a moderate R like Scott Brown elected in a deep blue state.

If the Rs and Ds hold serve in partisan leaning states and split Colorado it equals a 55/45 majority for Republicans - matching their highest ever seat total. Even with two seats in Colorado Republicans would need to poach four seats in states that rarely, if ever, elect anything other than a Democrat in statewide elections.

Drilling down further, again from Cook Political Reports, in 2004 the most partisan D House district Bush won was a D+4; the most partisan R House district Kerry won was R+1. In 2008 the most partisan D House district McCain won was...R+1- i.e. none; the most partisan R House district Obama won was R+6 - and he actually won a significant majority of the the R+1 to R+4 House districts.

What does it all mean? That in a perfect storm election a Democrat running for president as a moderate was able to get good traction in districts where he had no business being competitive and drag along some other Ds on his coattails.

Alright then, now for some concessions. The midterms may turn out to be a perfect storm where Republicans gain traction in statewide races where they have no business being competitive. Yes, recent polling shows a tremendous enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democrat voters leading up to the mid-terms. Independents polled also oppose Obamacare and runaway spending. We are in the midst of what could be an unprecedented swing in electoral fortunes from one election to the next.

And yes, we're not seeing the usual "Throw the bums out - except for my bum, who's doing a fine job" philosophy voters tend to express.

So it is theoretically possible that Republicans could pick up every contested Senate seat now held by a Democrat. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. The RCP averages show R+6 - which leaves us with a 53-47 Democrat majority. Which means Republicans still need 13 additional pick-ups in 2012 (along with the presidency) to make repeal a reality. I think it's safe to say that with Obama on the ballot the Democratic base will turn out en masse so picking up the entire 13 is probably not attainable.

Which means that voter anger and frustration with the Democrats (and only the Democrats) will have to continue boiling over into 2014. Lord willing a Republican president and Republican Congress will be facing mid-terms in 2014, and the majority party rarely picks up seats in mid-terms.

Believe me, I understand the anger and frustration over the course Pelosi, Reid, and Obama have charted. But anger alone isn't going to get Obamacare repealed. The Tea Parties have a lot of momentum now, but we're still a long way from 2014 - when a third Senate election cycle occurs and gives Republicans probably their last, best chance at a filibuster-proof advantage.

Political movements built on anger have a tendency to fizzle out over time. Maybe this one is different, but then again maybe it's not. Remember the upcoming "forty year Democratic majority" in which liberal pundits were reveling in late 2008?

Our Liberal Democrat leadership overreached and conservatives need to avoid the same trap. I'd love to wave a magic wand and slash government spending back to...oh, let's say 1988 levels. But to do so would mean fundamentally altering entitlements and a host of other programs on which millions of Americans rely or find desirable. Repeal Obamacare? Popular. Reform Social Security and Medicare? Gird your loins for some ruthless, media-assisted demagoguery from the left.

Egon Spengler said it best - the door swings both ways. If enough people are unwilling to hold their nose and accept the lesser of two evils we just might end up with the worse of two evils. The warts on John McCain look a whole lot better after a couple of years of Obama, wouldn't you say?

To make repeal of Obamacare happen Republicans are going to have to win a majority in the Senate bigger than anything they've ever managed before. That's not going to happen by shutting out moderates. I've always said a Republican from the Northeast would be a Democrat here in Texas and God knows they make me want to pull out my hair from time to time. But when the alternative is a Democrat holding that Senate seat for the next 30 years I'll live with the aggravation.

Or maybe this time we really are witnessing a fundamental shift in American politics that sweeps Democrats from office in sufficient numbers long enough for conservatives to make the structural changes to government spending obligations necessary to avoid what is now the inevitable default. I hope so. I wouldn't bet the mortgage on it, though.


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Comments (19)

Whether we retake both hous... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Whether we retake both houses or not, the bloodbath amongst the liberal Democrats will give Washington pause as they enter the new year. Nothing gets a politician's attention faster then the thought of political death.

I'm more afraid of what these lame-duck bastards will do between the election and January.

Slight problem: RINOs, whil... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Slight problem: RINOs, while they apply in determining which party has the leadership position, do not apply when you are talking about filibuster-proof majorities. If they did apply, well, they wouldn't be called RINOs now, would they?

Well obamacare won't be rep... (Below threshold)

Well obamacare won't be repealed. In it's current form it will end the insurance companies and eventually drive everyone into government program.

Delaware will be lost if the focus is ODonnell and not Coons. I think the GOP needs to focus on Coons plans for higher taxes, bigger government, and bigger budget deficits.

If you love Obamacare, and want more legislation like Obamacare, then vote for Coons.

A 51-seat GOP majority in t... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

A 51-seat GOP majority in the Senate with Mike Castle having prevailed in Delaware would mean that Jeff Sessions (ACU rating: 95) would control the judiciary committee for the next two years.

On the other hand, a 50-50 split in the Senate with O'Donnell having lost Delaware will mean that Pat Leahy (ACU rating: 6) will retain control of the judiciary committee for the next two years.

And since the main blog ent... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

And since the main blog entry specifically mentioned Obamacare:

A 51-seat GOP majority in the Senate with Mike Castle having prevailed in Delaware would mean that Mike Enzi (ACU rating: 93) would control the health & education committee for the next two years.

On the other hand, a 50-50 split in the Senate with O'Donnell having lost Delaware will mean that Tom Harkin (ACU rating: 8) will retain control of the health & education committee for the next two years.

At the time of Obamao's ina... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

At the time of Obamao's inauguration, had somebody even speculated on being able to take back both the House AND the Senate, not even by the next General Election but by the Midterm, they would have been summarily dismissed as mad. Now in two short years the unexpected and miraculous circumstance has arisen where the House is definitely in play, and perhaps even the Senate.

Oddly enough, the incredible turn of events has conservatives bashing each other over the heads and spewing venom on one another. Democrats are on the sidelines laughing their asses off as we all start fighting about what we should not have expected to have at all.

I don't about anyone else but in my own life, and I have been here for quite a spell, counting my blessings and expressing my gratitude to God for all improvements in my condition has generally worked well for me.

It surely seems to me that those who are inclined to simply think we should do anything and all things that come to hand to win back the Senate totally miss the point. We had no right to even expect to make gains in either House and it is just ridiculous to watch the anger and moral inadequacy of those who think principles don't matter if you really, really, really, want something.

We all should be grateful and happy that our circumstances have changed so much in such an amazingly short time and earn our gains, not stoop to just about anything to get them. Not so long ago, it would have been thought somewhat of a miracle if we might have almost been ready to make any significant inroads at all by the '12 elections. So maybe some folks can take a deep breath, note how far we've come and how fast. It's all good folks. Even if we don't get every last thing we might want in some sort of political instant gratification.

Sorry to nitpick the nicely... (Below threshold)

Sorry to nitpick the nicely researched and organized table that you obviously spent so much time on, but NE is not R/R, as Ben "Cornhusker Kickback" Nelson is a Democrat and AK is not R/R either, as it has Mark Begich, also a Dem, thanks in no small part to the now discredited prosecution of the late Ted Stevens on highly questionable charges!

Also, technically, VT (Sanders) and CT (Lieberman) each have an Independent and a Dem, though they do both caucus with the D's. I do, however appreciate your work. It must have been very time consuming (believe me, I know).

Republicans owe this entire... (Below threshold)
exceller:

Republicans owe this entire resurgence to the tea party. The tea party movement is what reenergized the right. The tea party are the people who stood up and said HELL NO, while Republicans were basically curled up in a fetal position licking their wounds from the debacle election of 2008. The tea party is not motivated solely to get Republicans back in the committee chairs. To someone in the tea party there is little that distinguishes Coons from Castle, they're both statists so it was a big victory to knock off one of them from the equation. This is a long term war, if O'Donnell doesn't win we come back again next time with someone else. There are too many of the same old senior Republicans around to be completely confident that things will be markedly different this time with Republicans in charge. We will try to make sure this time is different, but the tea party's job is to keep everyone honest and to push the whole conversation back to the right. If Republicans strategists like Rove get their panties in a twist because they can't have a Mike Castle in the senate, so be it. Maybe they'll come around, or maybe they won't. But looking back on the last two elections where Republicans were drubbed and lost all power in Washington, who was calling the shots for the party? Who was the so-called architect when Pelosi and Reid came to power? The same guy who is now trying his best to undermine O'Donnell's chances.

Remember there really IS no... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Remember there really IS no such thing as "The Tea Party" as a definable organization. There are more than a couple groups of activists, some of them certainly pursuing TP goals in general, which use the TP name to gain donations and credibility, but no one elected them. They appointed themselves, and they appointed themselves treasurers of their funds, too.

The real credit for any GOP success this November should go to the people who actually worked long and hard to make it possible, forging ahead under fire when some said it wasn't possible. Those tireless workers who have made this victory a reality are Barry Obama, Nan "Stretch" Pelosi, and Harry "Fingers" Reid. A hearty thanks to them, and their able supporting cast . . . OMG, I hate to leave anyone out . . . gotta give a shout out to Chris Dodd and Chuck Rangel, whose corruption underlined the failure to promote high ethics and "drain the swamp" - with strong late support from Maxine "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Waters and Berenice "He My Grandbaby? F'shizzle?" Johnson.

Of course the biggest RINO-purgers are idiots, which gives us a clue as to whence they came. They aren't Republicans or conservatives in the normal sense at all, or even mainstream Tea Party people. They are infiltrating Paulbot Libertines and Buchananazi brown shirts, who have their noses under the tent of the TP movement and pretend to be leaders or spokesmen for it, although no one elected them or approved them. They are on a crusade of vengeance against any Republican who doesn't toe their line, and frenzied like sharks in bloody chum.

You must understand that they don't care so much about the election as the revenge factor. If their fanaticism destroyed both the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party, they would not bat an eye, and blame the victims for being insufficiently ideologically pure.

The object isn't to win (we... (Below threshold)
Don L:

The object isn't to win (we've had that failure too often) why even do battle unless it's about a set of beliefs worth fighting for that you may then institute those beliefs. winning with an army of those with the opposite beliefs is shear folly. The people have finally learned and they're rejecting it.

It may work in baseball -this winning is everything -so there you can win by buying the contracts of your opponents best pitchers to pitch against them etc,

This isn't baseball. We're talking about life itself. Why and what you fight for, is far more important than just winning. In fact, the only reason the people have finally awoken is because the "just win with RINOs party" allowed Obama to do quickly what the RINO's were doing slowly -destroying America and its freedom.

Here's the problem, though;... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

Here's the problem, though; Castle *wouldn't* have voted to repeal Obamacare.

It would have been Jim Jeffords all over again, with Castle serving as the Lefty Media's Pet Favorite Maverick Republican (D-NY Times), and he'd be voting with Democrats left and right - all the while forcing Republicans to bend to the left in the *hope* of getting this fucking traitor's vote.

C'mon, can't you just see it? "OmiGod! Those Teabagger extremists want to *uphold the Constitution again*! Quick, let's get Mike Castle - that titan of the Senate - in front of our cameras for The Sainted Moderate Viewpoint(tm)."

And then ... guess what!? He threatens to change parties if he doesn't get his way (IE, Granny Botox's way). And then, after Republicans pet him until his hair is all silky smooth, he votes against them anyway.

"Oh, dear me, but my party is becoming *extremists*! They're moving away from *me*!"
- Mike Castle

And then - the moment the Republicans say, "Ya know Mikey? Fuck you," he goes ahead and pulls The Full Jeffords.

Don't kid yourself. O'Donnell just beat a Democrat. If she can't beat another Democrat, it's six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Thank you Mr. Right, I edit... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Thank you Mr. Right, I edited the table. Must have gotten carried away with the copying and pasting...

The charge against the Tea ... (Below threshold)
gary gulrud:

The charge against the Tea Party of RINO purging is self-serving pap.

Career politicians, regardless of party, are the target. RINO or DIABLO, Blue Dog, Chameleon, whatever, the pols employ a gimmick to entrench themselves.

Like the tapeworm that makes you lose weight, they're an insidious parasite with specious qualities.

The Baron isn't a RINO, he's a wanker.

From their cold dead hands.... (Below threshold)
rich K:

From their cold dead hands. Thats what all the sponges will say if any pol tries to trim any gravy from the train. The Dems know it and all of us try to pretend otherwise. FDR got the first drink down the alcholics throat, LBJ sat down at the bar and ordered another round for the faithful and now Nancy and the boys are tearing off the doors to the liquor cabinet. Im 54 now and I have never seen one damn things removed from the federal buffet. Call me cynical but Its going to take a revolution to make a dent,not just a tug at the edges.

There are other ways of def... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

There are other ways of defeating Obamacare (e.g. defunding). The 60 votes is needed to act, not to do nothing. In fact, you could stop public TV, department of education, etc. by not funding them. All of that rests on the house. Relying on 60 votes in the senate with RINO's is likely to bring about heart break. The dems ask the RINO what it takes to get the RINO on the dem side and the "bipartisan" bill is formed.

On the oter hand, the best solution for the tea party is not to try and conquer in one fell swoop, but to prove that their way is better. Assume that GOP gets a house majority and senate minority in 2010 (very realistic at this point). Further assume that congress implements the tenets of smaller government and less intrusion on people's lives. Finally assume that this congressional path leads to better lives for the citizens of the US. Now, run on your record and incrementally knock down those who seek a bigger government and more intrusion into private lives. That is how you build a long term winning coalition, not by insisting on political purity on day one. Further, with that sort of track record, you can easily afford to listen to those who don't reflexively agree with you. And when you do that, the odds in crease that either you or they will learn something. We know the problems of too much government. The problems of too little government haven't been seen since the days of the articles of confederation. Finding the right balance is not going to be done through lock step political purity.

p.s. All the assumptions I proposed are by no means guaranteed to be fruitful or fulfilled.

Repealing Obamacare is a re... (Below threshold)
John S:

Repealing Obamacare is a red herring. A veto-proof majority is out of reach. All you need to do is kill the unconstitutional individual mandate. Then the program will collapse of its own unfunded weight. By 2012 the nation will be in the midst of a hyperinflationary holocaust; Obamacare will be the least of our problems. We certainly don't want a Republican Congress to catch blame for THAT. Unless, of course, you want the Communist Party USA to have a shot at the White House in 2012.

I didn't get in on the earl... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I didn't get in on the earlier discussion but here's my two cents:

1) A progressive is a progressive, whether an "R" or a "D" after the name.

2) Republican progressives tend to vote with other progressives, and stab the Republican base in the back, as history has taught us.

3) If we are going to elect progressives, let them be the real thing.

4) When push comes to shove, progressives are not going to vote to repeal Obamacare, I guarantee it. I'm not sure if the most conservative group of Republicans we can rally will follow through. We are idiots if we are depending on the federal government to limit its own power. Not gonna happen, any more than "moderate" Islam is going to help us defeat "radical" Islam. Anybody noticed that? No, "moderate" Marxists are not going to help us defeat "radical" Marxists.

5) The word "progressive" is far too kind. Marxists, fascists, statists are more apt.

Seems to me we wouldn't be ... (Below threshold)
LiberalNitemare:

Seems to me we wouldn't be in the position of repealing Obama-care in the first place, if it weren't for the Rinos we already have.

I see no need to tolerate them.

Remember if you elect good ... (Below threshold)
Thomas Jackson:

Remember if you elect good country club Republicans like Specter, Graham, or McCain you can always rest easy knowing that Obama has more than enough votes to pass his bills.

Just ask yourselfs what is the point of a majority if you lack principle?




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