Saturday, October 25, 2008
Let's Salvage What We Can
In this weekend's Washington Post Outlook section, I urge Republicans to concentrate their resources on saving as many embattled senators as possible. (I could have added that this was the strategy the GOP followed in 1996, when a last-minute infusion of resources saved the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.)
The themes and messages that are galvanizing the crowds for Palin are bleeding Sens. John Sununu in New Hampshire, Gordon Smith in Oregon, Norm Coleman in Minnesota and Susan Collins in Maine. The Palin approach might have been expected to work better in more traditionally conservative states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, but they have not worked well enough to compensate for the weak Republican economic message at a moment of global financial crisis. Result: the certain loss of John Warner's Senate seat in Virginia, the probable loss of Elizabeth Dole's in North Carolina, an unexpectedly tough fight for Saxby Chambliss's in Georgia — and an apparent GOP surrender in Colorado, where it looks as if the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already pulled its ads from the air.
The fundraising challenge only makes things worse. The Republican senatorial and congressional committees have badly underperformed compared with their Democratic counterparts — and the Republican National Committee, which has done well, is directing its money toward the presidential campaign, rather than to local races. (It was RNC funds, not McCain '08 money, that paid the now-famous $150,000 for Palin's campaign wardrobe, for example.) This is a huge mistake.
In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first.
10/25 08:51 AM