Monday, March 10, 2008

Judgment, Based on Experience.

If the economy continues its downward spiral (which it will) and the war in Iraq continues its decline on the "what issues matter most" list (which--who knows?), it appears that whoever the Democrats nominate will win the White House. The math, fuzzy or otherwise, means that the Kerry '04 states plus one more--Ohio, anybody?--give the Dems their victory.

The Democrats are also poised to pick up a number of seats in both the House and the Senate. Physicist Bill Foster picked up former Speaker Dennis Hastert's old seat in that district's special election this past weekend. Mark Warner takes John Warner's Senate seat in Virginia; John Sununu will surely lose to Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. A 60-seat majority, while improbable, is not impossible.

So why is there so much hand-wringing about the Democrats' primary race? Because more than anything else, it spells out the future. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, downticket races are generally hurt, not helped; swing districts from New Jersey's 3rd to New Mexico's 1st are packed with independents who are, at best, skeptical about a return to Clinton Era politics. Her strengths are in traditional Democratic strongholds, and in states that will go blue in November no matter what.

Obama, on the other hand, brings in a new generation of Democratic voters, and appeals to independents who wouldn't be averse to a McCain presidency. Though no one thinks Alaska or Alabama will be in the Democrats' column in November, huge turnouts, like the kind Obama has inspired through the primary process, would bolster Democratic chances not just in House or Senate races like Minnesota's 3rd and the open Colorado Senate seat, but for the all-important bench positions of state legislators, county commissioners, and school board.

The Democrats have a chance to be strategic as well as idealistic in this election. We can only hope that they take this long view.

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