Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Post: Dems Need Not Read Too Deeply Into NY Win

Today's Guest Post comes from a long time reader, first time blogger, Old Guru, who is an attorney in our Nation's Capitol.  His views are populist and central but, by his own admission, can be mavericky at anytime and propose a radical theory.  He's warned us to "Watch out!"  So please engage our guest in the comments below.


“Not so fast.” Any Democrat feeling giddy about the victory in New York’s 26th Congressional District on May 26, 2011 should internalize these words. Although the 26th District is solidly Republican – John McCain won the District with 52% of the vote – Dems should not console themselves in the victory with the mistaken belief that the 2012 elections will be the same way. If the Democratic party is to effectively analyze its win in NY’s 26th Congressional District, it must recognize the wild cards that affected the race. Dems need to consider the following wild cards:

1. Democrat-turned-Tea Party Candidate Jack Davis

Democrats are singing in the streets that this victory was a referendum on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. Although voters angrily expressed disappointment with Ryan’s plan and some seniors defected from the GOP in protest, Republican Party candidate Jane Corwin still received 43% of the vote. Tea Party Candidate Jack Davis received 9% of the vote, which was more than likely comprised of defected republican voters. It is also crucial to note that Davis spent 2 million dollars of his personal fortune to force a three-way race. The winner, Democrat Kathy Hochul, received less than half the vote at 47% - hardly a percentage that proves voters soundly rejected Ryan’s medicare plan.

2. Scaring people rather than informing them may backfire

Democrats flooded airwaves, crowded billboards, and stuffed mailboxes to get out the word about “Mediscare.” Though they mimicked the Republicans’ annoying use of “Obamacare,” if Dems spend too much time using slogans and one-word zingers rather than speaking to the Ryan plan’s effect of lining the pockets of the private sector or of the fact that under Ryan’s plan Medicare will be too expensive to maintain, Republicans may win the message war in yet another battle.

What democrats should do is spend time holding town hall meetings, attend meet and greets, invest in web blast tools, pamphlets, and other educational tools that actually inform the public why Ryan’s plan is ineffective. In addition, liberal politicians should flood the airwaves with public announcements; they should appear on shows and local programs, and they should write opinion pieces in newspapers. If democrats actually get the facts out about the Republicans’ assault on Medicare, the informed public will do the rest when they vote.

3. 2012 is a long way off

Everyone knows that voters have short attention spans. Although Hochul comfortably won the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, when November 2012 rolls around, the victory will be a distant memory. In addition, Republicans would have had time to regroup and find a message to push against her. Republicans love to and let’s be honest, they effectively unite and regroup when they lose elections. Let’s not forget President Obama’s resounding victory and the Democratic takeover of Congress, followed by the “shellacking” in 2010. Even President Clinton told Democrats not to “get too cocky” over the win.

Democrats must spend this time honing their message, they must keep the Republicans on the defensive and they must offer real solutions to tackle budget issues. This is the Republican’s excuse for point the cross hairs on Medicare in the first place. Dems should take control of the budget argument and looks for ways to reduce costs of entitlements; this would make them seem serious about solving problems and it gives them credibility to the public.

Democrats need to use this victory as a motivation tool across the nation. They should continue to force republicans on the defensive and explain to seniors how Ryan’s plan is harmful to seniors. Democrats have an advantage in that the sitting president can use the bully pulpit to further support and disseminate their message. However, they should not get comfortable with the New York win and fail to recognize the reasons for the win, they cannot fail to keep informing the public about truthful flaws in Ryan’s Medicare plan, and they cannot let up on Republicans. To do so will ensure that republicans are competitive, at worst, in races across the country. Dems can ignore this advice at the own risk.

Is this a sign of things to come, can the Democrats take back the House?
Well Medicare become the Republican's Health Care Reform?
Are the Democrats putting the cart before the horse?  Could this victory just be an anomaly?
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