In the immediate aftermath of the 2004 elections, the prospects looked bleak for the Democratic Party. Bloggers on the right as well as conservative pundits (and even a few on the left) forecast that the Democrats would remain in the minority for the near future. Some even projecte GOP gains in the 2006 election. But, a combination of the president’s lack of media strategy and excessive loyalty to his appointees* as well as Republican overconfidence and the arrogance of a seemingly entrenched minority allowed the Democrats to make gains, not so much because of their agenda, but because they weren’t the party in power.
Now, a number of pundits, mostly on the left, but also a few on the right, have declared that 2008 will be a Democratic year, even though 2007 is barely a third over. Conservative pundit and frequent Bush-critic Bruce Bartlett writes that “it is foolish to ignore the strong Democratic trend that is indisputable,” claiming that “no Republican can win the presidency next year.”
To be sure, things don’t look so good for the GOP right now. But, then, they didn’t look so good for the Democrats in May 2005. In fact, things looked pretty bleak for the Democrats well into 1992. Going into this year in France, polls showed Socialist Ségolene Royal defeating Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the party of the unpopular incumbent.
I would daresay that as soon as our party picks its nominee for 2008 and that candidate distinguishes himself from the incumbent, he (like Sarkozy) should pick up support. After all, while most polls show the American people preferring the Democrats to Republicans, polls also show that the American people continue to hold conservatives views. (Yes, I realize that these polls indicate that people prefer the Democrats on a variety of issues. I’m referring to polls which ask issue-specific questions, such as waging an aggressive war on Terror and decreasing the size and scope of the federal government.
Not only that. But, it seems that next fall, the Democrats may face criticism similar to that they leveled against the GOP last fall. Noting that “Democrats’ Momentum Is Stalling” the Washington Post writes that “some in the party are growing nervous that the ‘do nothing’ tag they slapped on Republicans last year could come back to haunt them.” And the power of the far-left “netroots” (i.e., left-wing bloggers) pushes the Democrats further to the extreme (e.g., Hillary Clinton’s bill to “deauthorize” the Iraq War), making them less palatable to voters in the center.
Right now the Democrats are riding high for the same reason they won in 2006. They are the party opposed to an unpopular president who has trouble making the case for his policies. But, when a GOP nominee emerges as the new face of the party and if he succeeds in putting forward a positive agenda for change, we should see the Democratic advantage melt away. And as the 2008 election approaches (without George W. Bush’s name on the ballot), Democrats’ opposition to the incumbent will not matter as much as their plans to move America forward.
Given that they’ve dwelled more on that opposition than their own agenda, expect a GOP surge next fall, that is, provided my party’s nominee succeeds at articulating his vision for the future. And that the Democrats reminded mired in the politics of antagonism — and beholden to the far left, with an agenda sure to win praise amongst left-wing bloggers, but out of touch with the great majority of Americans.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
*particularly as this involved shifting strategy in Iraq — and making the case for the war to the American people.
ADDENDUM (after the jump): In an interesting AP article headlined, “Democrats’ 2008 electoral edge in doubt,” Alan Fram notes, “Andrew Kohut, who heads the nonpartisan Pew polls, said the ability of the GOP front-runners to outperform their party in the surveys should give Democrats pause.”
Via OpinionJournal’s Political Diary (available by subscription), we learn that Norman Podhoretz, former editor of Commentary, thinks the Democrats have already lost the 2008 election:
In spite of what the polls supposedly tell us, I strongly suspect that the Democrats may already have blown the 2008 election. Unlike the late Senator Aiken of Vermont, who proposed that we declare victory and get out of Vietnam, the Democrats want us to declare defeat and get out of Iraq. This, they imagine, is what the American people were demanding in the congressional election of 2006. But it seems far more likely that the message of that election was not ‘Get out,’ but rather ‘Win, or get out.’ In any case, the position the Democrats are now taking can only have the effect of revivifying and reinforcing the sense of them as weak on national security. And this was the very factor that led to the ignominious defeat of their presidential candidate, George McGovern, in 1972, when they also misread the public temper by paying too much attention to the left wing of their party.
UPDATE: in a piece on a gaffe by Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, we read: “During his speech, Obama stirred the crowd as he often does by skewering President Bush over the unpopular war and noting that he opposed it from the outset.” Just goes to show that how the Democratic candidates (well, this one at least) are appealing to their audiences by bashing the president. A strategy which won’t help them very much given that George W. Bush will not be on the ballot next year.
UP-UPDATE: Via Instapundit, we learn of a new poll which shows that “the Democratic-led Congress is doing just as dreary a job as President Bush.” And Demorats have been back in charge there just over four months. Not only that. AP-Ipsos polls (which this one is) tend to skew toward the Democrats. So, perhaps more people approve of the president’s job than approve of that of Congress? A sign that 2008 may not be the slam dunk Democrats are expecting.