Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why Obama Should Love the Tea Party.

Obama should get down on his knees and thank the powers that don't exist for the Tea Party movement. Obama was leading the Democrats into a slaughter. He did as much harm to the Democrats as Dubya did to the Republicans in the last election.

It was clear all along that the Republicans would make substantial gains in the House. As bad as that would be for Obama, it would be absolutely disastrous if he lost the Senate to the Republicans as well.

But, out of nowhere, the Tea Party came riding in on their extremely white horse (all the brown horses were arrested and deported) to save the president's ass.

Let us recount exactly how the Tea Party rescued Obama from his self-brewed disaster.

As things stand, as I write this, the Democrats will retain control of the Senate 51-49. All they needed was to lose two more seats and the Republicans would be in charge there.

So why didn't the Republicans pick up these seats?

Start in Delaware where Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell knocked Mike Castle out of the race in the primary. This was widely seen as a safe seat for Castle, who ought to have won rather easily. But O'Donnell was the sort of Religious-right loons that are attracted to the Tea Party like moths to a flame. Her views were simply too extreme for the voters to stomach. So what probably would have been a win for Mike Castle was easily turned into a defeat for Christine O'Donnell. It appears that she will lose the race by 16 points, a landslide defeat in most cases. O'Donnell moved a fairly safe Republican seat to the Democrats.

Now move to Nevada where Senate majority leader Harry Reid was fighting for his life. Sharron Angle was perhaps the most extreme of the Republican Tea Party types. Reid was in big trouble and his seat was a strong pick-up opportunity for the Republicans. But Angle's campaign was just too extreme and Reid won with a 5 point margin. That was much better than it ought to have been.

Those two seats alone gave the Democrats the Senate. But I suspect there is more at play still.

It appears to me that the Tea Party candidates had a direct impact on the California race. Barbara Boxer was in trouble. She was so closely tied to Obama that she was in trouble. It would have been a good thing had she lost, in my opinion.

Carly Fiorina ran against Boxer but she is going down to defeat. Fiorina was the victim of a vicious smear campaign by Boxer, and it worked. And the smear that seemed most effective was Boxer's linking Fiorina to "extreme" positions. Californians were skeptical of the Tea Party movement and to extreme Right positions. Linking Fiorina to "extremism" was effective. I won't say it scared people into Boxer's camp. But what it did do was give Democrats a reason to vote.

People in this election did NOT vote for anyone. They voted AGAINST someone. For Boxer to win she needed to give Democrats a reason to come out and vote against Fiorina. The "too extreme for California" smear was the means of doing that. There were enough, very extreme Tea Party Republicans running, and saying monstrous things, that the "too extreme" campaign resonated with many California voters and Boxer benefitted from that. Fiorina was not a Tea Party candidate and Boxer succeeded by making it appear as if she were.

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