Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why KBH staying is GOOD news for Texas Democrats

Coming as no surprise to anyone, KBH is staying put until at least the end of her term in 2012.

Republicans, some of whom are feigning happiness, should understand that this could work against them in several ways:

1. Obama's not that popular in Texas right now. And neither are National Democrats. Understandably these are heady times for the former progressive set but, in Texas anyway, things are not looking rosy. It's far more likely that a special election in the near future would trend toward the pachyderms than it would the donkeys. Having a Republican elected two years before the term is up would give the winner....

2. ...the power of the incumbency. Despite protestations to the contrary a sizable portion of voters make some decisions based on name ID alone. I still maintain that there is no way KBH survives another Republican primary should she run again. Her image as the Grand Dame of Texas politics withered under the glare of Rick Perry's hair spray. Even if she does run again, she's damaged goods now. Not only will she have to overcome the punishing attacks from the Perry camp, but she's have to fight.....

3. ...the power of the straight-ticket vote. Current popularity drop aside, two years is an eternity in politics. Plenty of time remains for Obama to direct legislation at enough special interest groups to win their support in 2012. He's also still very popular with two key Presidential voting blocs: African-Americans and the Youth vote. Both probably won't be there, in significantly increased amounts, in 2010 but in 2012, when Obama is back on the ballot, expect there to be a VERY strong push to have him re-elected in 2012. A big part of that push will be straight-party ballots.

Granted, there's always a chance that the Obama administration could go down in flames, that the attempted jobs-killing dog-pile of healthcare reform, immigration reform and climate change legislation could paint a scenario where the maximum amount of votes ANY Democrat could get in Texas hovers somewhere around 20%. The Hispanic/Latino voting blocs are hardly as monolithic as are the African-Americans. It's possible that Republicans could lose the anti-immigrant rhetoric and take strides to woo minority (and majority) groups with whom they have many shared values. For my purposes I'm going to assume that no major ideological shifts occur in either party between now and 2012.

When viewed from that angle, were I a Democrat, I'd be celebrating KBH's decision today with a sparkling wine. Were I a Republican I'd pray for the strongest candidate we've got in 2012. You're gonna need it.

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