Headaches with victory.
The New York Times has a good analysis of what the race in the 50th Congressional District in California means. Of course by "good" I mean they agree with what this blog has been saying for some time. They note that the victory for the Republicans was marginal in a safe district. Bush won the district by 10 points last time around and the last Republican congressman won the seat by a whopping 22 points. You should know that since the district was created no Democrat has come within 50,000 of winning the seat and this time Francine Busby came within 5,000 votes of doing so. That means a swing of just another 2,500 voters and she would have won.
Here are some facts to consider. Only 29% of the voters in this district are Democrats. One local analyst told the paper: "The fact that Busby got 15 point over Democratic registration, that should make Republicans nervous. It's not that Bilbray won. This is a safe Republican seat. I was very surprised that $5 million doesn't allow you to break 50%."
About a dozen Congression seats are considered to be toss ups right now and Republicans occupy 11 of them. A swing in the votes equal to this one would put most of them in the Democratic camp. The issue is whether the Republicans can pull over another win in those seats. But they can't afford to pump millions into each of those districts. This was a special eletion to replace the Republican incumbent who is now in prison for bribery so it was a one off election. When every Congressional seat in the country is up in November, including this one again, it will be a different situation. The Republicans managed to put out this fire because they concentrated their immense resources on this one district. With 365 district elections going on in November it will be a different matter. Even if they concentrate on the top dozen seats they are spreading funds much thinner.
Another things that apparently helped is the anti-immigrant sentiments that have been stirred up in the US. A rise in intolerance helps the Republicans who today are the party of orgnized intolerance. Bilbray, the Republican in this district, says that his campaign took off only when he made it clear that he is strongly against Mexican workers seeking jobs in America. He campaigned on the pledge of buidling a wall on the border -- no doubt the former Stasi agents in what was East Berlin can give him some tips on that. But the 50th District is right on the border. Will this anti-Mexican view play as well in the other toss up districts? Not likely. Only two of them are anywhere the Mexican border and the farther from the border the district the less important the immigration issue.
So in a nutshell the problem is this: the Republicans are seeing a massive swing away from their party. In a safe district they almost lost. They have 11 districts that look as possible swings to the Democrats, meaning the GOP loses control of the House. In 9 of those districts the swing needed to go to the Democrats is less than the swing they saw in this race. This swing came in spite of pouring in millions which they can afford in all the swing districts come November. And they benefitted from an anti-immigrant campaign in a border district but that won't play as well in non-border districts. Even with an anticipated victory the headaches are not stopping. And come November the voters will have another five months of the war and the issue this election is the war even if the Democrats haven't figured that out.