Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Red Taint Ensures a Blue Tint: Could the Brandwagon Effect Bathe the Map in Blue?

NEW YORK – It's been a tough year for the GOP brand. And Republican Congressmembers, especially those in the Rust Belt have a some 'splaining to do about a lot more than Iraq, Katrina, Foleygate, and Abramoff.

To the old-line conservatives, the Bush tribe isn't living up to its original “small government, low deficit, avoid foreign entanglements” political philosophy. To Christian Conservatives, the current White House is the exemplar for a litany of broken promises that extend back to the Reagan era. And Republican moderates, well, they’ve been in the wilderness for a very long time. In short, the GOP brand is starting to oxidize – and Rust Belt voters looking for some Rustoleum®. In the House, this election supposed to be close. It won’t be (unless the voting machines fail).

he Dems, whose own brand is, shall we say, under-defined, aren’t necessarily running the strongest campaign in their history. But, by keeping their national message narrow – “Iraq’s a mess. The Republican Congress is corrupt. And the Administration is incompetent. And American can’t afford to keep shipping its job over to China” – the Democrats have successfully nationalized the election. And, in avoiding a national referendum on what they would do to change things, ala the ’94 Republicans’ “Contract with America,” the Dems have allowed their candidates tailor their messages to local tastes. The Democrats’ “Big Tent” approach allows their brand the flexibility to run pro-lifers in Pennsylvania, cops in Indiana, and prosecutors in Missouri, with out saddling Red district insurgents with the “The Loony Left” labeling so prevalent on America’s talk radio.

This strategy has Blue State Republicans flummoxed and Red State Republicans stymied. In letting the social issues reflect local tastes, the Democrats are forcing the Republicans to confront substantive issues such as Iraq, competence – and, in the Rust Belt, free trade.

When districts like IN-2, NC-11, and OH-15, suddenly take on a Blue tinge, the bandwagon effect can’t be far behind – a Blue Wave we might be tempted to brand “The Revenge of the Reagan Democrats," or as The Post's E.J. Dionne writes, "The Radical Center."

That said, The Political Brandwagon is going out on a limb, two weeks before the election and declare the Republicans will need more than re-branding to retake Congress in 2008.

However, there are a few codas to the prediction illustrated below – electronic voting machines, the availability of voting machines in Democratic precincts, and the potential for organized voter supression. Therefore, The Brandwagon won’t be eating any crow, if the votes don’t get counted. And, if you don’t like the map, feel free to click on it and rearrange blue and red squares to your heart's content.

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