What do yesterday’s election results mean, if anything? Michael Barone and John McIntyre have excellent analyses; both conclude that they don’t mean much. (But Barone hasn’t yet weighed in on California, whose results were by far the most important.)
The Democrats will claim “momentum,” but the reality is that this year’s elections don’t give them any more momentum than they had in 2001, when they also won the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia by the same or larger margins. The real question is, does the Bush administration have a plan for the next year, and if so, when is it going to start implementing it? I agree whole-heartedly with these comments by John McIntyre:
If Bush is willing to fight he can turn things around. The final round of elections in Iraq, Saddam’s impending conviction and execution, and the potential for many American troops to come home could provide a backdrop to turn around public perceptions about Iraq. A strong economy, coupled with firm housing and equity prices are another positive for the President. And then finally, the Alito nomination will provide a forum for a partisan fight, that as long as Alito is confirmed, will energize his base and demoralize the Left.
This isn’t meant to be all happy talk for Republican prospects. The table is set for a very good 2006 for the Democrats. And the Republican recruiting woes and Democratic successes provide an early indication that the Bush election run may be coming to an end. But everyone should take a deep breath and remember it is November 2005 not November 2006. And because the Democratic “success” these last few months has come almost exclusively from Bush’s woes and nothing the Democrats are pro-actively offering, the President has it in his power to turn things around for the GOP. But he better get out there and fight, because he is not going to catch a break from his political enemies, and he better get that job approval back above 40%.
“If Bush is willing to fight.” Those are not words I ever expected to see written about this President, but his continuing passivity in the face of the Democrats’ mendacious onslaught raises legitimate questions about whether he still has the energy and the vision he needs for a successful second term.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has advice for the Governator. Let’s hope he takes it!