Welcome Instapundit Readers! Thanks readers for catching the mega-typo in the first paragraph, since fixed. Yes, I did mean, “blue” states.
One of the reasons I’ve been bullish on Republican chances against incumbent Democratic Senators in such red blue states as California, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin in next fall’s elections, not to mention purple states like Colorado and Nevada (as well as red states like North Dakota) is that in 1992 and 1996, Ross Perot ran better in each state (save California and Colorado in 1996) than he did nationwide. Indeed, in 1992, he ran above 20% in all of those states, capturing nearly one-quarter of the vote in Colorado, Oregon and Washington and exceeding that mark in Nevada.
To be sure, demographics have changed somewhat in the intervening years, but the primary appeal of Perot’s campaign, deficits spiraling out of control, remains salient, given the recent expansion in the federal government undertaken by President Obama and the 111th Congress.
And while I have shared this theory with friends, I have yet to blog on it. Steve Chapman (via Glenn) beat me to the punch in an excellent column on the renewed relevance of the “short, crew-cut scold with a thick twang and a cranky manner“:
. . . his complaints about Washington’s chronic overspending struck a chord with the public. A few months before the election, he was leading both incumbent George H.W. Bush and challenger Bill Clinton in the polls.
Despite Perot’s loss, Chapman believes (and I agree)
His candidacy was not for nothing. It created a new awareness of a risky fiscal policy that, in Perot’s words, was “robbing future generations.” It caused Americans to consider whether fiscal indiscipline was defensible on either economic or moral terms. And it sowed the legitimate fear that deficits would be fatal to prosperity. . . .
Obama’s expensive ambitions have brought the issue back to center stage. He vows to cut the deficit in half. But under his budget blueprint, the government would accumulate some $7 trillion in new debt over the next decade.
With the deficit issue back at center stage, those Perot voters (and their younger ideological kin concerned about their future) will think twice before voting for the incumbent party this fall. And they may, as they did in 1994, vote for Republican congressional candidates in 2010. In Washington State which has not gone Republican in a presidential election since the Reagan landslide of 1984, voters elected Republicans to fill 7 of their 9 House seats.
A wave similar to the, which removed the then-Democratic House Speaker from his Spokane-based seat in eastern Washington, could surely topple Patty Murray.
With the spending/deficit issue continuing to gain traction, Republicans could benefit merely by being the party out of power. The idea which rallied many to the cantankerous Texan could well rally many against the party of the righteous Illinoisian.
FROM THE COMMENTS: Liberty Jane writes (and I pretty much agree), “The Republicans have to embrace a non-establishment candidate. (Something of a non-career politician — someone who has done other things in his or her life).” There’s lots more good stuff in the comments, so I encourage y’all to peruse them and consider the responses. Delighted that my post generated such thoughtful discussion.
toad echoes the point of my post in his succinct remarks:
The interesting thing is not Ross Perot or some other third party candidate but the issue Perot raised. If someone(s) on the Republican side would/could emphasize it it in the same way that Perot did, it could cost the Democrats dearly in 2010.
I’m assuming he means the deficit.