At his blog, Michael Barone, arguably America’s best analyst of election results, takes a look at the “near upset” and ol JinC asks about “Nancy’s plane.” Barone first:
Here are the election returns for Tuesday’s special election in the Fifth District of Massachusetts. Democrat Niki Tsongas beat Republican Jim Ogonowski 51 to 45 percent in a district in which John Kerry beat George W. Bush 57 to 41 percent. This probably counts as the “near upset” I suggested as a possibility in my U.S. News column for the week.Barone’s entire post is here.
As I noted in an October 3 blog posting, a SurveyUSA poll taken in September showed Tsongas up 51 to 41 percent, and Democrats poured in celebrities—Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry—to help Tsongas essentially maintain that level of support.
Ogonowski evidently increased his support in the face of this onslaught. This is not the victory Republicans wistfully hoped for. But it was something like Democrat Paul Hackett’s near upset in the special election in August 2005 in Ohio’s heavily Republican Second District.
This is not necessarily a harbinger for the 2008 House elections. […]
Still, there may be some lessons here—as there were in the Ohio Second District result in 2005.
One: Ogonowski campaigned against Congress. This is the first time since 1994 that Republicans have been able to campaign against a Democratic Congress, and Congress’s job ratings are dismally low. […]
Two: Ogonowski campaigned on holding down taxes. This is an issue that has not worked for Republicans in a long time. I speculated in my column that it could change the votes of high earners who have been favoring Democrats on cultural issues.
This does not seem to have happened. Ogonowski actually ran even with or 1 to 3 percentage points behind Bush’s 2004 numbers in high-income, culturally liberal Boston suburbs in the southern part of the district: Wayland, Sudbury, Concord, Acton, and Harvard (an actual town, not near Cambridge).
Where he ran ahead of Bush was in the suburbs around Lowell and Lawrence, places with income levels somewhat lower (or at least that is my impression) but mostly above the national average. […].
This suggests to me that Ogonowski’s two leading substantive issues, taxes and immigration, cut significantly into the Democratic vote in middle-income areas while failing utterly to do so in the high-income suburbs. [...]
I was up in the district in late September and interviewed Tsongas and Ogonowski’s campaign manager. My impression was that Tsongas was running a 2006 campaign—vote against Bush, stop the war—that is in the process of being overtaken by events: Bush is leaving, and the surge is actually working.
Ogonowski, meanwhile, was running a 2007 campaign, raising issues like taxes and immigration that were not much emphasized in 2006.
The 2008 campaign, I think, will probably resemble 2007 more than 2006 and will be shaped as well by the two presidential nominees.
Since the 2006 election I have written that we are in a period of open-field politics. The Massachusetts Fifth’s special election seems to confirm that—and to indicate that past voting patterns may no longer be relevant and that there may be some unpleasant surprises—for Democrats but also quite possibly for Republicans, too
Now a few questions about “Nancy’s plane:”
Did Nancy Pelosi ever get the government to give her that plane she wanted when she became House Speaker?
It was a 737, right? Or was it a 777? Or was it another kind of jetliner?
But for sure it was a type in which she could “get some work done with staff” and make herself available to journalists “seeking background on legislation” as they flew with her from Washington to San Francisco for the weekend.
Were you surprised Madam Speaker demanded the citizens pay for the plane after she’d promised to eliminate “fat-cat” congressional perks?
Did you find yourself wondering why she didn't just asked George Soros, Bill Gates, Jay Rockerfeller and Duke’s BOT Chair Bob Steel to chip in for it? They could’ve paid for Nancy's plane without touching their next month's lunch money.
When Nancy began her reign as Speaker by demanding the taxpayers foot the bill for a jetliner, that was a tip-off the Dems’ congressional leadership might not earn much approval from the American people, wasn't it?