In this morning’s Wall Street Journal Political Diary (available by subscription), Reid Wilson of Real Clear Politics presented the possibility that Republicans could lose two open seats in the South, Louisiana’s Sixth where Richard Baker retired to run a hedge fund association and Mississippi’s First, made vacant by Roger Wicker’s appointment to Trent Lott’s U.S. Senate seat.
Polls have the Democratic candidate Don Cazayoux ahead in the Louisiana District while Republican Greg Davis is only slightly ahead in Mississippi.Â Â Both districts strongly favor the GOP, with Bush having beaten Kerry by 19 points in the former and by 25 in the latter.
While I don’t know much about either candidate in the Mississippi race, I have heard much about the Republican standard bearer in Louisiana, perennial candidate and perpetual conservative gadfly Woody Jenkins.Â Â He ran for the US Senate three times in 1978, 1980 and 1996, the first two times as a Democrat.Â He lost each of those races.
Kind of reminds me of Jim Oberweis, a Republican who just lost a special election to fill Denny Hastert’s Illinois seat.Â Oberweis also lost three statewide races before seeking a House seat in a special election.Â Â It seems that Oberweis, like Jenkins, has the habit of offending many voters.
If Republicans continue to nominate bad candidates, we’ll lose even traditionally Republican seats.Â Â Had in 2006, we had a better candidate in Montana, we would still hold that Senate seat — and retain our majority albeit by the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote.Â Â We might not need Cheney’s vote had Illinois Republicans nominated a serious candidate in 2004.Â Â (And that would have affected the current presidential race most significantly.)
Noting these weak Republican congressional candidates losing Republican districts, I turn to this year’s presidential race when the political environment, particularly the mood of the voters, favors a Democrat.Â Yet, given the two Democratic contenders, each with serious drawbacks, our Republican nominee has a real chance to win election.
It just goes to show that elections aren’t only about partisanship and political ideology, but also personality.Â Â No wonder a number of polls show John McCain in the lead and few (if any) show either Democrat approaching a majority, in a year when over half of voters surveyed are more favorably disposed to electing a Democrat to the White House.