A Big Georgia Win - A Small Step Back to Conservatism

Bruce Walker
The easy re-election of Saxby Chambliss in Georgia has remarkable similarities to the election of Paul Coverdale almost sixteen years ago.  In both cases, Democrats had just captured the White House from Republicans and in both cases the Georgia Senate seat would be a key to Republicans being able to effectively filibuster legislative initiatives by the new Democrat administration.  In both cases, a runoff was required because neither candidate got a majority in the general election.  In both cases, the Republican won.

Obama, like Clinton and like Carter, will enter the White House with a nation properly primed by the mainstream media with adulation.  When Carter took office, 65% of Americans approved of his performance while only 26% disapproved.  When Clinton took office, 57% of Americans approved of his performance while only 22% disapproved. 

Obama currently has a 65% approval rating in the odd poll of how well he is performing his job of President-elect, while 32% disapprove.  This reflects nothing more than the profound bias in the media for any Democrat over any Republican. If that sounds too pessimistic, consider the approval ratings of Republican presidents coming into office.

In 1981, two months after Ronald Reagan won a sweeping landslide that gave Republicans control of the Senate for the first time in decades, the approval rating of President Reagan at inauguration was only  50% and his disapproval rating 35%, all of this before Reagan had taking any action as president at all.   George H. Bush, who won the 1988 presidential election easily, had an approval rating on taking office of 51% and a disapproval rating of 42%.  Before Bush 41 took the oath of office, nearly half of Americans had already decided that he was not a good president. 

This sort of popularity contest in a vacuum, over time, means nothing.  When Clinton took office, he not only was much more popular than Reagan or Bush 41 when they took office, but his Democrats had almost the same majorities in the House and in the Senate that Obama will have in Congress when he takes office. Yet two years after Clinton took office, Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress. 

Is the December 2 victory of Senator Chambliss in Georgia a precursor to Republican revival?  Possibly it is.  If Senator Kennedy dies in office, there will be an election to fill his seat (Mitt Romney would be the ideal Republican candidate) Democrats hold the governorship in New Jersey and Virginia.  Both states, and in less than a year, will have gubernatorial and state legislative elections.  Republicans could easily recapture both statehouses, as they did in 1993. 

If the glow of Obama begins to fade, then Democrats will have no one to blame.  Barack may be a clever politician, but so was Clinton and so was Carter.  When the buck stops, then campaign skills become less important than performance.  That is why the approval ratings of Republican presidents have tended to rise during their administration, while the approval ratings of Democrat presidents have tended to fall.  At some point Americans expect wise governance and actual results.  

Having pushed unrelentingly for the defeat of every Republican politician, Democrats now have the uncomfortable mantle of accountability.  If Republicans choose to fight, rather than to be co-opted, then there is no reason why two years from now they cannot become the majority party.   

The key to a Republican revival, of course, is the rise of a new group of Republican leaders -- men and women who are resolute in their principles, clear in their positions, and articulate in their expression -- just like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich were in 1980 and 1994.  Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Eric Cantor are the sort of Republicans that can rally conservatives and make a cheerful, strong, and undiluted case for what we believe. 

But electoral momentum helps too -- there is no substitute for winning.  Twelve months before the 1994 Republican landslide, Republicans were winning (and Democrats were losing) special Senate elections, special House elections, off-year gubernatorial elections, and mayoral contests.  The aura of electoral invincibility which Clinton created vanished in less than a year.  It all began in a Georgia runoff election a few weeks after the presidential election. 

There is no good way for the Left to play this vote.  Saxby Chambliss is a solid conservative with a 95% rating by the American Conservative Union.  Jim Martin is a Leftist Democrat.   Maybe the big Georgia victory is a small step towards conservatism.  It prevents a filibuster-proof Senate, and it is a clear signal to Barack Obama that his "mandate" is more a repudiation of Bush than an endorsement of some vague socialism.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
The easy re-election of Saxby Chambliss in Georgia has remarkable similarities to the election of Paul Coverdale almost sixteen years ago.  In both cases, Democrats had just captured the White House from Republicans and in both cases the Georgia Senate seat would be a key to Republicans being able to effectively filibuster legislative initiatives by the new Democrat administration.  In both cases, a runoff was required because neither candidate got a majority in the general election.  In both cases, the Republican won.

Obama, like Clinton and like Carter, will enter the White House with a nation properly primed by the mainstream media with adulation.  When Carter took office, 65% of Americans approved of his performance while only 26% disapproved.  When Clinton took office, 57% of Americans approved of his performance while only 22% disapproved. 

Obama currently has a 65% approval rating in the odd poll of how well he is performing his job of President-elect, while 32% disapprove.  This reflects nothing more than the profound bias in the media for any Democrat over any Republican. If that sounds too pessimistic, consider the approval ratings of Republican presidents coming into office.

In 1981, two months after Ronald Reagan won a sweeping landslide that gave Republicans control of the Senate for the first time in decades, the approval rating of President Reagan at inauguration was only  50% and his disapproval rating 35%, all of this before Reagan had taking any action as president at all.   George H. Bush, who won the 1988 presidential election easily, had an approval rating on taking office of 51% and a disapproval rating of 42%.  Before Bush 41 took the oath of office, nearly half of Americans had already decided that he was not a good president. 

This sort of popularity contest in a vacuum, over time, means nothing.  When Clinton took office, he not only was much more popular than Reagan or Bush 41 when they took office, but his Democrats had almost the same majorities in the House and in the Senate that Obama will have in Congress when he takes office. Yet two years after Clinton took office, Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress. 

Is the December 2 victory of Senator Chambliss in Georgia a precursor to Republican revival?  Possibly it is.  If Senator Kennedy dies in office, there will be an election to fill his seat (Mitt Romney would be the ideal Republican candidate) Democrats hold the governorship in New Jersey and Virginia.  Both states, and in less than a year, will have gubernatorial and state legislative elections.  Republicans could easily recapture both statehouses, as they did in 1993. 

If the glow of Obama begins to fade, then Democrats will have no one to blame.  Barack may be a clever politician, but so was Clinton and so was Carter.  When the buck stops, then campaign skills become less important than performance.  That is why the approval ratings of Republican presidents have tended to rise during their administration, while the approval ratings of Democrat presidents have tended to fall.  At some point Americans expect wise governance and actual results.  

Having pushed unrelentingly for the defeat of every Republican politician, Democrats now have the uncomfortable mantle of accountability.  If Republicans choose to fight, rather than to be co-opted, then there is no reason why two years from now they cannot become the majority party.   

The key to a Republican revival, of course, is the rise of a new group of Republican leaders -- men and women who are resolute in their principles, clear in their positions, and articulate in their expression -- just like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich were in 1980 and 1994.  Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Eric Cantor are the sort of Republicans that can rally conservatives and make a cheerful, strong, and undiluted case for what we believe. 

But electoral momentum helps too -- there is no substitute for winning.  Twelve months before the 1994 Republican landslide, Republicans were winning (and Democrats were losing) special Senate elections, special House elections, off-year gubernatorial elections, and mayoral contests.  The aura of electoral invincibility which Clinton created vanished in less than a year.  It all began in a Georgia runoff election a few weeks after the presidential election. 

There is no good way for the Left to play this vote.  Saxby Chambliss is a solid conservative with a 95% rating by the American Conservative Union.  Jim Martin is a Leftist Democrat.   Maybe the big Georgia victory is a small step towards conservatism.  It prevents a filibuster-proof Senate, and it is a clear signal to Barack Obama that his "mandate" is more a repudiation of Bush than an endorsement of some vague socialism.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.