Monday, December 18, 2006

Closing the Door on Campaign '06

I wish I did not have to do this post, but in the spirit of full disclosure I must.

There were a couple Congressional special elections in the month of December that yielded some surprising results.

In the 2nd District of Louisiana, the incumbent Congressman, under a very large shadow of corruption was surprisingly victorious by a wide margin. I was actually happy about that for reasons I will not get into now, and the overall result did not come as a huge surprise for me. When I made my final predictions, I said the seat would remain Democrat without regard to the actual person, so thus it does not count as an incorrect prediction.

However, last Tuesday saw a special election in the 23rd District of Texas where Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla was soundly ousted by former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, thus bringing the total Democrat pickup in the House of Representatives to 30 seats. This did indeed come as a surprise to just about everyone and was disappointing to me. As the week progressed, I have come to terms with it, but since I had a very lengthy post discussing all the other GOP losses of seats this year, I might as well include what I said about this race too. Here is a copy of what I posted at last Wednesday afternoon. It was just a quick post off the top of my head and probably contains some spelling and grammatical errors:

“As I said last night when the results were almost in, Bonilla’s loss has me depressed, and I am not going to claim otherwise. I mean, I will get over it and all, but I have not been the same since those results started trickling in. It really took me off by Bears high and I am sort of melancholy today. I know all of my P1 lefty critics will take glee in that and all, but I am just being honest.Anyways, the Rodriguez win was a surprise to most people and it should never have happened. But it did, and that’s the way it goes. It of course happened in a runoff just a few weeks before XMas, when one never knows who will actually turn out to vote, and clearly Republicans did not.I have read several reports of this race in the San Antonio media and on the Hotline and it appears the DCCC went all out and gave millions to Rodriguez trying to have him win, while Bonilla’s campaign and national Republicans were probably too overconfident about the results and held back. That should never have happened. They should have gone all out to save the seat. Bonilla received 49% on Election Night and just barely avoided an outright win and it is just unbelievable that because of turnout, he actually received several points less in the runoff. If there is any solace to Republicans, it is that in 2008, in what is still a district that should still favor Republicans, Rodriguez will have to compete in a traditional election environment in November and the national Democrats will have many more races to focus on that cycle instead of allowing this particular seat to be their primary objective as it was in this runoff. Rodriguez is still regarded as a somewhat weak candidate. Now, the main thing I want to say, is that this is just another example of how Republicans have suffered at the polls this year because of the impression that my party in the House, has been overly strident on the immigration issue and has not succeeded in having many Hispanic-Americans, particularly in a district like this on the Mexican border, understand that we do not have it out for legal immigrants. I am not saying that perception among the voters is correct, but it is what they think, and I have to sort of understand why.My party cannot continue to go down the Tancredo road, or we will suffer more defeats such as that of J.D. Hayworth and Henry Bonilla, who was one of the hardliners on the issue. We need to stick with the message of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush who in their states and in GWB’s runs for President, made significant inroads in the Hispanic community. We cannot just let President Bush pass from the political scene and have all that progress be for naught.Hispanic Americans are decent, hardworking, and tend to be culturally conservative. They should be part of the GOP Big Tent and we have to approach this illegal immigration issue in a comprehensive and compassionate way and not one that makes legal immigrants feel like scapegoats.It has been mentioned that in part of the district that Bonilla had represented before, in a county that is heavily Hispanic, Bonilla received 59% in 2004, GWB received 40% in it that year, but in this runoff, Bonilla lost 86-14.That is why we lost this seat. Not over an anti-GWB wave or over Iraq, but because we took a hit this year, in November, and yesterday among Hispanic voters… the ones that were either born here or legal immigrants, but who are not exactly gung ho on treating illegal immigrants like terrorists, etc, considering they may very well be their relatives, friends, etc. Illegal immigration is wrong and as a country we must do more to secure our borders, but a political party also has to recognize the desire and aspirations that bring those illegal immigrants across the border in the first place, and work to prevent that in an even-handed and comprehensive way.I have been harping on this point (which I know is unpopular among many of my fellow Republicans) for months now on this blog and my fears of it hurting us certainly did come true.At least my party has two years to learn this lesson and to get it right. The President gets it (see the appointment of Mel Martinez as RNC Chair), most of the major Presidential candidates get it too (McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee, Brownback).As we start a new year in a few weeks, I can only hope that the well-intentioned but politically damaging and misguided hard-line enforcement only approach favored by many House Republicans in the last Congress will not be what continues to define us on this sensitive issue.”

So, anyways, that was that. And now it is really time to forget about the sixth year midterm election of 2006 where Republicans were up against historical forces as well as problems of our own creating. It was a bad political year, but it is over now, and it is time to look ahead, as I will do on the 2007 and 2008 races in the days and weeks ahead, as well as formally endorsing a candidate for President on or around January 1, 2007.

To take care of the housekeeping matter, the race in Texas is the only one to cause me to have to change my election prediction totals. Of course, everybody else was predicting Bonilla would win too.

In addition to going 35-1 in the Gubernatorial races, and 31-2 in the U.S. Senate races, my final tally in the U.S. House of Representatives is now down one more seat to a total of 416-19.

Overall, that makes me 482-22, still at 96%.

If I am allowed a moment of personal ego, I still have not found any other “pundit”, either amateur like myself or professional who had that good of a record in 2006. The one exception being Larry Sabato who I believe also has now finished at 482-22, the exact same score as me. Nonetheless, he had 20 specific House calls incorrect, as opposed to my 19, and I know of *no one* who matched me at 19 wrong in predicting House outcomes in all races.