What happened in the Rodriguez-Bonilla race?
The courts redrew the district to make it competitive, and the DCCC put a ton of money in, but that alone couldn’t explain how Bonilla, a seven-term incumbent, went from 48% of the vote in the preliminary — barely short of the 50% that would have avoided a runoff altogether — to only 45% in the runoff.
Special elections are hard to read. But when a Democrat who was supposed to be the underdog takes out an incumbent Republican by a nine-point margin, there’s a strong temptation to look for larger causes.
It may be nothing more than increasing disgust with Bush and his imitation of either Captain Ahab or Captain Queeg with respect to Iraq. But it may also be that some voters who voted for Bonilla on the theory that the Republicans had pork to dole out decided to join the winning team. If that’s right, it bodes well for 2008. Perhaps the stability of the Republican majority in the House depended in large part on the fact that it was a majority, and some seats that were just out of reach this year may be takeable next time.
If you’re a control theorist, you call that a “positive feedback loop.” If you’ve read Michael Harrington, you remember his saying that “Coalitions are built by victories, not by defeats.” If you’re an old folkie, you hear Joan Baez’s voice singing Gil Turner’s words: “Ev’ry vict’ry’s gonna bring another.”
6 thoughts on “A pleasant surprise”
Pretty terrified about the stability of the majority in the Senate right now…
Mark, did you really just say it's a good thing that voters want pork?
No, I said it was a good thing that Republicans are no longer able to bribe voters to re-elect them.
The desire to be on the winning team along with demographic changes in the US is going to make the Democratic party the only relevent party in the US.
The question then becomes: How will the US function as a one party state.
I think your analysis is partly right, but I think it's right because this is a southern seat. I don't know about Texas Latinos, but underneath all the posturing about religion and moralism and righteousness, a very large part of the southern white vote is there for the sugar.
That's one of the hidden stories about the southern evangelical vote: the GOP held it partly by pandering to it, but also by throwing immense amounts of money at it. (Nothing like what the warlords get, but to an ordinary church operation a few hundred thousand can look really rich.) Now that they've lost the majority, the Rethugs are going to find it a lot harder to get the evangelical vote out.
Together with the high-profile evangelical gay scandals, this might be the mechanism I've been looking for that gets the evangelicals back into their more usual pattern of political quiescence. They go through cycles of intense political activism and this one's been going on for a long time. It's due to end.
The correct analogy is to neither Ahab nor Queeg, but rather to the fumblingly tyrannous Captain Morton, in the classic WWII comedy, Mr. Roberts.
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