Wake up call

Here is one view from today’s NY Times of GOP prospects in the fall-

Buried inside Sunday’s papers was a noteworthy election result. In a special election to replace former Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, first-time Democratic candidate Bill Foster emerged victorious. George Bush easily carried the district in 2004, as has every recent G.O.P. presidential candidate.

This Democratic pickup suggests that, for now, we’re in an electoral environment more like 2006 than 2004. Foster’s eight-percentage-point improvement on John Kerry’s 2004 performance in the district mirrors the general shift in the electorate from 2004, when Bush won and the Republicans held Congress, to 2006, when the Democrats took over Congress and ran on average about eight points ahead of the G.O.P. Most surveys have shown the Democrats retaining that sizable advantage over the last 16 months. Saturday’s special election would appear to confirm these polls.

This isn’t encouraging for G.O.P. prospects in 2008. Nor is this: It’s rare for a party to win a third consecutive term in the White House. The only time it’s been done since World War II was in 1988. Then the incumbent, Ronald Reagan, had a job approval rating on Election Day in the high 50s. George Bush looks likely to remain stuck in the 30s. Factor in the prospect of a recession (the bad housing and job market reports at the end of last week were politically chilling) and the fact that a large majority already thinks the country’s going in the wrong direction. Add to the mix a huge turnout so far in the Democratic presidential primaries, far above that for the Republican contests, even when both parties still had competitive races.Now that was in today’s NY Times. Lets take a trip back in time, or Mr. Peabody may have told Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to October 22nd, 2007.

Well, fellow conservatives–grin and bear it. And cheer up! After all, among other recent American winners of the “Peace” prize were Jimmy Carter in 2002 and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in 1985. These turned out to be pretty good contrarian indicators for how the American people would vote in the next presidential election–to say nothing of what actually produces peace in the real world.

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Here’s what’s likely to happen: When the nominees are selected next year, the Republican will be behind–just as the GOP nominee trailed, at various times, in the 1980, 1988, 2000, and 2004 campaigns. Then the Republican will rally and probably win. Look to 1988 for a model: a tired, two-term presidency, a newly invigorated Democratic Congress causing all kinds of problems for the administration, an intelligent, allegedly centrist Democratic nominee, and a bruising Republican primary with lots of unhappiness about the field of candidates. This resulted in a 17-point early lead for Michael Dukakis over George H.W. Bush, but an eventual Republican victory. True, the current Republican incumbent, George W. Bush, isn’t Ronald Reagan. And the 2008 Republican nominee is going to have to chart his own path to victory. It will be a challenge. But it’s a healthy one. Let McCain, Giuliani, Thompson, and Romney have at it. The competition will be good for them and good for the party, ensuring that the winner will be up to the task both of winning the presidency and leading the country.

The flip sides of the same coin. An optimistic view of the 2008 election and pessimistic view. What’s so interesting about this? They were both written by William Kristol.

Welcome to reality Bill, I’m glad you woke up. The loss in Illinois should be a warning to the Republican voters this year. If you decide to make a pass in November because you don’t feel McCain is sufficiently conservative, you’ll only add to the losses that are likely to be inflicted.

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