I see Politico’s Jonathan Martin – and liberals in the blogosphere – are spinning like tops over the results of the PA-12 special election that saw that seat stay, for now, in Democrat hands via a Mark Critz (an aide to Murtha) victory. In an article titled “The GOP’s special failure”, Martin and Charles Mahtesian write:
All the evidence pointing to monster Republican House gains this fall—the Scott Brown upset win in Massachusetts, the scary polling numbers in once-safely Democratic districts, the ever-rising number of Democratic seats thought to be in jeopardy—was contradicted Tuesday.
In the only House race that really mattered to both parties—the special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th District—Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition.
Given the resources the GOP poured into the effort to capture the seat and the decisiveness of the defeat—as it turned out, it wasn’t really that close—the outcome casts serious doubt on the idea that the Democratic House majority is in jeopardy and offers comfort to a Democratic Party that is desperately in search of a glimmer of hope.
The district itself couldn’t have been more primed for a Republican victory. According to one recent poll, President Barack Obama’s approval rating in the 12th was a dismal 35 percent, compared to 55 percent who disapproved. His health care plan was equally unpopular—just 30 percent of those polled supported it, while 58 percent were in opposition.
K-Lo’s take is right on the money and provides much-needed perspective:
How exactly is it a level playing field when the Democrats have a statewide U.S. Senate primary happening at the same time? There was no comparative factor getting Republicans motivated to interrupt their busy lives to vote. That’s not soreloserdom blogging, it’s just attention to reality. The Democrats were more motivated in this race. This ain’t the end of a trend. It’s just another special election, in a Democratic district, and on a big Democratic primary day. And a Democrat won. Disappointing. But not paradigm-smashing shocking. And not devastating.
Not only that, but didn’t Critz sort of run as the anti-Obama? Indeed, he did. I hear from conservatives in PA that he was almost literally running away from the administration’s position on issues like healthcare “reform” and cap and tax. So was his victory last night a victory for conservatives, moderates, or liberals? If he governs like he campaigned, sounds to me like the Democrats might have another case of the Evil Blue Dog virus with which to contend. So I don’t really see it as a victory for liberals. While it’s true that seat is still in Democrat hands, the guy who won it went through extraordinary lengths to distance himself from his party’s hard left flank.
In any event, Tim Burns gets another shot at Critz in November, where the momentum – at least for now – is in the GOP’s corner.