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    My Shocking Theory On The Delaware Primary

    My Shocking Theory On The Delaware Primary

    Prof. Stephen Bainbridge and Dan Riehl have been debating the Delaware Senate Republican primary, and whether it is worth electing “RINO” Mike Castle.  Bainbridge says yes, Riehl says no.

    I don’t know enough about Castle or Christine O’Donnell to weigh in on whether Castle is a RINO or O’Donnell is a true conservative — but both Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point.  I also don’t know about whether Castle is a sure thing in the general election, and O’Donnell a likely loser — again, Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point (although Bainbridge more so than Riehl).

    So, assuming Castle is a RINO yet significantly more likely to win in a general election, what to do?

    I say, vote for the candidate you prefer, and let the electoral chips fall where they may.  That is so now more than ever.

    The argument is that a Castle election may be the difference between Republican control of the Senate or not, assuming the tsunami happens.  So what?  So long as Republicans control the House (the much more likely scenario), further legislation implementing the Obama agenda is DOA with or without the Senate.

    If the electoral tide is strong enough for Republicans to carry the House, the Democratic majority in the Senate — at best for Democrats — will be reduced to 51-53.  There is no huge advantage to Republican majority rule by one vote in the Senate, if the cost of that razor thin rule is that Mike Castle (assuming he is a RINO) is the deciding vote. 

    Majority rule in the Senate would allow the House and Senate to pass Republican legislation, but with an Obama veto pen in hand, until there is a Republican President we are playing damage control, trying to stop the bleeding caused by Obamacare and other Democratic legislation.  Affirmatively implementing policy will have to await the 2012 election regardless.

    Majority control in the Senate will have importance in the judicial nomination process, but what is the chance Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Castle all would vote against anyone but the most extreme Obama nominee? 

    Whether Republicans are up a vote, or down a vote or two, in the Senate will not alter the course of history — so long as the House goes Republican.

    In short, the House is the key in the 2010 election.  In the Senate, a marginal one vote majority (assuming all cards fall into place in a perfect storm) is not of such importance that you should vote for someone you do not want in the Senate.

    Vote for the person you think is best for the job.


    Update:  At HuffPo, three political science professors are predicting a 50 seat swing in the House:

    Our preliminary 2010 forecast will appear (with other forecasts by political scientists) in the October issue of PS: Political Science. By our reckoning, the most likely scenario is a Republican majority in the neighborhood of 229 seats versus 206 for the Democrats for a 50-seat loss for the Democrats. Taking into account the uncertainty in our model, the Republicans have a 79% chance of winning the House.

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    The greatest difficulty in debating this is the tendency of so many self-appointed guardians of conservative principles to blithely cast as "RINOs" or even liberals Republicans whose record is not perfect from a conservative perspective. For example, David above lumps Graham together with Snowe and Collins as "RINOs" or worse. One sees a lot of that among commenters on Riehl's site with John McCain often thrown into the mix.

    This is patently absurd. Graham has a LIFETIME record of voting on the conservative side of key issues of 90%, according to the American Conservative Union. Only 14 of 41 sitting GOP Senators had a higher lifetime rating. In 2009, Graham's rating was 96%, which means he voted on the conservative side of 24 out of 25 issues. In sharp contrast, Snowe and Collins both have a lifetime ACU rating of 50% and 50% in 2009, as well.

    What this sort of silly crap means is that only a small handful of GOP Senators might be regarded as "conservative" and the rest are all "RINOs." So this is not just about Castle; it's about whether some folks would be able to accept ANY Republican Party that is likely to exist in their lifetimes.

    Some of this may be a function of age — of understanding that even the greatest conservative heroes of the recent past could be cast as "RINOs" too if such foolishly sectarian ideological standards were applied to them. The real Ronald Reagan was a smart, pragmatic politician who knew how to create and maintain effective electoral coalitions. As Governor of California, he signed into law one of the nation's first "abortion reform" laws, making so-called therapeutic abortions legal in the state. A bit later, he called for a massive tax increase in the face of a big deficit, then signed into law a hugely progressive income tax. One or both of those acts would surely get him venomous hostility from many of today's guardians of what they suppose to be Reagan's legacy.

    Then, there was Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, still (properly) lionized as the father of the contemporary conservative movement. Goldwater sought to turn the GOP away from its post-New Deal "me-tooism" exemplified by Tom Dewey, Eisenhower, Nixon, Rockefeller and George Romney. But he staunchly backed the "pro-choice" position, pushed his protege Sandra O'Connor for the Supreme Court and regarded the New Right with deep suspicion and even hostility. When Jerry Falwell said that every good Christian should reject O'Connor, Goldwater shot back famously that every good Christian should kick Falwell in the nuts.

    It's not a zero sum game, people. You win by steps, which is what both Reagan and Goldwater both clearly understood.

    Correction of a typo in my earlier comment. I meant to write McPalin, not McCalin. What irony!

    Great, reasoned post.

    I must say that I don't always agree with Dan Riehl, and from what I gather, he is a somewhat dyspeptic fellow. That said, I think he's absolutely right this time.

    Prof. Bainbridge's piece strikes me as intellectually dishonest on many points. Most tellingly, he accuses everybody who doesn't support his views on illegal immigration and gay marriage as being 'exclusivists' stuck in a 'small tent' philosophy. But is this really true? An overwhelming majority of the public supports the Arizona anti-illegal immigration laws for instance. And regarding gay marriage- even though one might not view this as morally just- the fact of the matter is that Americans in most polls almost always oppose it (including in the deepest of deep Blue states). Simply because Prof. Bainbridge declares something as fact does not make it so.

    A lot of commenters here have misinterpreted the overall thrust of Reagan's famous '80% rule'. The idea was that it was better to have a Republican on his side who would vote against him 20% of the time, than a Democrat would vote against him most of the time. That is a commonsense notion, and most conservatives have no real problems with Republicans like Rudy, Chris Christie, Scott Brown, et al- you're not always going to agree with them (especially on social issues), but basically, they are fiscally conservative and will often take your side on the most important issues.

    How then does supporting a candidate like Castle- who voted for *Obama's* agenda 60% of the time- meet Reagan's rule?

    I find it hard to believe that Reagan would have supported a rule that allowed Republicans to vote against him 60% of the time, and in doing so, helped to undermine his most important policies (and blur the stark line between conservative and liberal).

    And why support a candidate who voted for Cap and Trade in the House, when it will only cost our economy even more jobs in this recession once it is ultimately passed and signed into law…and used by the President to blame Republicans for this result? And if Castle is really opposed to Obamacare, why hasn't he signed Representative King's discharge petition in support of repealing it?

    Mr. Burke,
    I agree that one should be careful about labeling some people as RINO. One of the most disturbing aspects of the Republican party is the intolerance for abortion. I know the issue is emotional and that many conservatives do not necessarily view themselves as pro-life. Thus, some groups will list those that are weak on the abortion issue as "RINO". However, someone like Graham has taken a stance that most conservatives can not stomach. He has been supportive of illegal immigration and has been for cap and trade. I other words, his views on major issues that would destroy the country and the economy have not been in keeping with good conservative view.

    I feel that the national party needs to be told that many of us want a return to freedom and to be left alone. Also, that lower taxes and a smaller government are necessary to save the country. The problem is that religious groups are taking the opportunity to push their agenda and this will weaken us all.

    John Burke, I think it's a bit disingenuous to selectively choose pieces of Reagan's political legacy, and then only tell half the story of what happened.

    When Reagan became Governor of California he had no previous political experience, and his staff was ill-equipped for the task ahead.

    While he did reluctantly sign the Therapeutic Abortion bill into law as a neophyte politician, he soon admitted that he wished he had paid closer attention to the language of the bill, once the law took a much different form as applied than he had anticipated. He also felt much guilt over his action. While he may have not been as strong a supporter of pro-life issues as president as some claim, to cast him in the light of being a pro-choice supporter is simply not true.

    Similarly, while he did raise taxes as part of a compromise in his first year as Governor in order to tackle the budge deficit he inherited from his predecessor, you can't side-step the fact that two years later, when he had a surplus, he returned that money to the taxpayers in the form of a rebate. To leave out the rebate distorts the full story. And going forward, Reagan's views on taxes and growing the economy became more refined as he gained experience. His views of taxation policies were much changed once he became president.

    It was the successes in the latter half of his first term (once he began to hit full stride), and his second term that made him presidential candidate material, and not the stumbling in his first year.

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