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May 27, 2011
The silver lining behind the NY 26 cloud
The mainstream media and the Democrats have been positively giddy this week over the results of the special election in House District 26 in Western New York. Beyond the obvious issues of the impact of a faux Tea Party candidate who spent nearly $3 million of his own money on the campaign and the actual minimal impact of the Medicare issue, the real story is: this is an almost non-story but one that benefits the Republicans in the longer run.
The results of the 2010 Census will cause New York to lose 2 Congressional seats. As the Times Union (Albany N.Y.) points out:
With the results of the special election now final it will be exceedingly difficult for the Democrats to protect this District as they have so many others to maintain. The Democrats currently control 22 of the 29 House seats after this special election. One can be certain the Republican State Senate will protect those current 7 Republican seats, forcing the Democrats to lose two.
But more importantly where have the two seats New York lost migrated? The 2010 Census shows a shift of 12 to 13 House seats. All of these are from Democrat leaning states with the exception of one seat from Louisiana. On the other hand the states gaining the 12 to 13 seats, with the exception of the state of Washington, are Republican leaning. A breakdown is as follows:
New York and Ohio each lose 2 seats; Texas gains 4 seats
Illinois and Massachusetts each lose 1 seat; Florida gains 2 seats
Michigan loses 1 seat; Arizona gains 1 seat
New Jersey loses 1 seat; South Carolina gains 1 seat
Pennsylvania loses 1 seat; Utah gains 1 seat
Iowa loses 1 seat; Nevada gains 1 seat
Missouri loses 1 seat; Georgia gains 1 seat
Louisiana loses 1 seat; Washington gains 1 seat
In all the states losing seats, except Illinois and Massachusetts, the Republicans control at least one chamber of the Legislature and in seven of the 10 states they control the governorship. Thus the party will have a major say in redistricting and protecting Republican seats or minimizing Democratic Districts.
In those states gaining seats, except Washington State, the Republicans not only control the governorships but the legislatures.
Therefore the Republicans are well placed to not only pick up as many as 9-11 of the 12 to 13 seats being reallocated, but more additional districts depending upon the final make-up of the redistricting battles. As New York 26 will, in all likelihood, cease to exist, the Democratic victory will be short-lived.
In the meantime, there is an old adage that in politics timing is everything. By placing so much emphasis on Medicare and utilizing the lies and distortions regarding the Ryan plan seventeen months before the November 2012 election, the Democrats and the media have allowed the Republicans an enormous amount of time to set the record straight as the Democrats will now be unable to offer a credible alternative to the Republican Medicare proposal -- one that affects no one over 55. This was not the best of time for a special election that featured the fear tactics of yesteryear. In reality it was at least 12 -14 months too soon.
While no party ever wants to lose an election for either the House or the Senate, and there were mistakes made by the New York Republican Party and candidate, this was far from being a watershed election. It was in fact a dry run for the Republicans and Tea Party movement to hone their message for November 2012 by getting behind meaningful spending reductions and viable entitlement reforms while not effectively losing the seat for the long-term.