Monday, November 06, 2006

Election 2006: Realignment or Not, The Parties Need a Re-Brand

NEW YORK – Two weeks ago, we vaulted past the conventional wisdom and predicted a 46-seat-high Blue wave would flood Capitol Hill. In the interim, we've probably revised our numbers to somewhere between 33 and 40.

But, overall, we're standing pretty firm, although we've got serious concerns about balloting snafus ranging from registration problems to electronic "glitches" in precincts nationwide, especially in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, and Ohio. And reports of late-night robocalls, push polls, and other forms of telephonic skulduggery might depress turn-out in tight races from CA-11 and AZ-8 to PA-6.

If the votes are counted, this could be a realigning election – and, in the aftermath, both parties will be due for a serious rebrand.

Democrats will need to demonstrate that they are as much the party of Conservative Blue Dogs as they are the home for Blue State progressives. This requires fully taking into account the political realities facing the centrist-to-conservative rural, Red State, and suburban Dems who will likely provide the largest portion of the incoming class.

The Republicans, regardless of outcome, are in need of "Brand Triage." With many Republican moderates joining the ranks of America's unemployed, the national party will lurch even further to the Right. To many conservative intellectuals, this would create the ideological purity necessary to formulate a more succinct political vision – and effect more lasting political change. An admirable spin to be sure, but ineffectual politics under the American electoral system. While we consider the ways in which the Republicans can successfully hone a more conservative brand, we suggest that the GOP looks deeply at which type of conservatism it prefers – social or fiscal. From the looks of things, it might be difficult for the two to coexist outside of the precincts painted with the brightest possible shade of Red.

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