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Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Shocking Theory On The Delaware Primary

Prof. Stephen Bainbridge and Dan Riehl have been debating the Delaware Senate Republican primary, and whether it is worth electing "RINO" Mike Castle.  Bainbridge says yes, Riehl says no.

I don't know enough about Castle or Christine O'Donnell to weigh in on whether Castle is a RINO or O'Donnell is a true conservative -- but both Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point.  I also don't know about whether Castle is a sure thing in the general election, and O'Donnell a likely loser -- again, Bainbridge and Riehl implicitly assume the point (although Bainbridge more so than Riehl).

So, assuming Castle is a RINO yet significantly more likely to win in a general election, what to do?

I say, vote for the candidate you prefer, and let the electoral chips fall where they may.  That is so now more than ever.

The argument is that a Castle election may be the difference between Republican control of the Senate or not, assuming the tsunami happens.  So what?  So long as Republicans control the House (the much more likely scenario), further legislation implementing the Obama agenda is DOA with or without the Senate.

If the electoral tide is strong enough for Republicans to carry the House, the Democratic majority in the Senate -- at best for Democrats -- will be reduced to 51-53.  There is no huge advantage to Republican majority rule by one vote in the Senate, if the cost of that razor thin rule is that Mike Castle (assuming he is a RINO) is the deciding vote. 

Majority rule in the Senate would allow the House and Senate to pass Republican legislation, but with an Obama veto pen in hand, until there is a Republican President we are playing damage control, trying to stop the bleeding caused by Obamacare and other Democratic legislation.  Affirmatively implementing policy will have to await the 2012 election regardless.

Majority control in the Senate will have importance in the judicial nomination process, but what is the chance Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and Mike Castle all would vote against anyone but the most extreme Obama nominee? 

Whether Republicans are up a vote, or down a vote or two, in the Senate will not alter the course of history -- so long as the House goes Republican.

In short, the House is the key in the 2010 election.  In the Senate, a marginal one vote majority (assuming all cards fall into place in a perfect storm) is not of such importance that you should vote for someone you do not want in the Senate.

Vote for the person you think is best for the job.


Update:  At HuffPo, three political science professors are predicting a 50 seat swing in the House:
Our preliminary 2010 forecast will appear (with other forecasts by political scientists) in the October issue of PS: Political Science. By our reckoning, the most likely scenario is a Republican majority in the neighborhood of 229 seats versus 206 for the Democrats for a 50-seat loss for the Democrats. Taking into account the uncertainty in our model, the Republicans have a 79% chance of winning the House.

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  1. Good points, but we must also consider that if (when?) Republicans take complete control in 2012 we'll want there to be as many Republicans as possible. As close to 60 as possible, in fact. Whoever is elected in Delaware will still be there well past 2012 and I believe we'd take a RINO who would probably vote to repeal Obamacare over a Democrat who would likely filibuster. So, while it won't make of break anything for the next two years, the people for Mike Castle may be looking at 2012 after all.

  2. Christine O'Donnell, endorsed by the Tea Party Express, is really getting slammed by the GOP for what they say are her closet financial and previous lost-races skeletons.

    I am anti-RINO from the get-go and this race is a lesser-than quandary.

  3. The other thing to bear in mind is that O'Donnell seems to be ...er... somewhat paranoid and conspiracy-minded. Check out her "they're watching me" comments on the second page of this interview with The Weekly Standard: http://is.gd/eWojD

    The choice seems to be less one of "RINO vs. True Conservative" than it is "RINO vs. Fruitcake."

  4. "Vote for the person you think is best for the job." Good advice. Don't vote merely for strategic reasons, and don't vote because some tea party organizers tell you who the "tea party choice" is.

    And, I think a one vote majority could have very profound implications in the Senate, if only procedural.

  5. Agree with what pubsecrets said. Also, let's keep in mind that Ginsberg is on the way out. We need as many Senators as possible to prevent another Sotomayor or Kagan, and even a RINO will have to go with the party line more often than not if we've got the majority.

  6. Gotta disagree strongly on this, Professor. Castle is the very model of a "RINO" -- with ACU and ADA ratings on his votes close to those of Snowe and Collins, albeit it tad more conservative. But control of the Senate next year is not to be tossed off so lightly, now that the "wave" surging toward November appears to be giving the GOP a real, although still outside chance of running the table and winding up with 51 (far more likely in "blue" Delaware where Castle has run and won statewide many times over and where swing voters are staunchly centrist).

    Why does control of the Senate matter?

    -- Because with two Houses the GOP can pass bills that either corner Obama into signing or force him to veto, the latter giving GOP candidates a powerful issue in 2012. Think tax cuts and spending cuts!

    -- Because a Democratic-controlled Senate would still be able to pass Obama-blessed but popular bills in an effort to force the GOP House to block them and give the Dems an issue to run on in 2012.

    -- Because with a GOP-controlled Senate, contrary to your point about SCOTUS nominees, Obama would find it much more difficult to push a left-leaning nominee through. A GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee could bottle up any nominee; the majority Leader could keep confirmation off the floor; it's tougher for guys like Graham to defy their leadership. The country could be oner heart attack away from a generation of liberal control of the Court.

    -- In foreign affairs, a GOP-controlled Senate could be the crucial force against Obama's bailing out of Afganistan prematurely.

    -- And don't forget the ability to run Committee hearings and conduct oversight investigations (fair or not, Senate hearings get more attention than House hearings).

    Anyway, serious political people take every victory they can get when they can it. You only know what will happen in 2012 if you have a crystal ball. Maybe the GOP will lose control of the House then (everyone runs) but have a better shot of hanging onto a one or two-vote majority in the Senate.

    Frankly, the venom heaped on Castle by guys like Riehl is just plain crazy. I noted on his site that of the current 41 GOP Senators, only 10 have a perfect 100% conservative voting record according to the ACU. Yet, guys like Riehl are ready to denounce anyone as a "RINO" who strays from the straight and narrow sectarian ideological path. You'll be waiting a long time before that group of 10 gets any bigger.

  7. It is better in the primary to vote for who you believe would best represent you, and in the final to vote for the Republican to gain the majority.

    The key is that the Senate holds the power over the president and the up-or-down votes of the judiciary. The first point is important because this president is already borderline breaching his oath; high crimes and misdemeanors are not far from possibility for a narcissist who is already over-reaching his powers. The second point is crucial. Having already appointed 2 liberal activist justices to the SCOTUS, we can't afford another being voted in to the lifetime seat.

    Perhaps Castle is a RINO, like Lindsay Graham. However, we need to whittle down that number, keeping 2012 in mind, along with the next 2 years of an ObamaNation.

  8. Ahhh, there is another factor to this race - I and many others I know WILL NOT vote for Castle if he is the candidate.

    TBD is just what - be it write in or a no vote, but NOT for Castle!

    This election, more than ever (and I have been voting for 50 years) calls for a vote based on our convictions!

    I wholeheartedly agree with -"I say, vote for the candidate you prefer, and let the electoral chips fall where they may. That is so now more than ever."

  9. in my opinion that advice should be the criteria of any elective office. vote for someone, not against someone and let the chips fall where they will.
    that is the whole idea of having the right to vote anyways. take on an individualistic attitude rather than a collective attitude

  10. so DeleWhere you are a registered Democrat then ...

  11. Gripp;er
    Manny times elections are won, and rightly so IMHO, be voters voting against someonE. In 04, I and every combat vet I know voted againts JFK! GWB won because millions voted against JFK. Many vets told me GWB was too far to the left for them - but they hated JKK; THE ONLY HWAY TO KEEP HIM OUT WAS TO VOTE AGAINST HIM - GWB.
    Herein Cal the same thinghapenedin 06 wevotgedagainstDavis soArnie wontherecall.

    If voting against someone was not such a good way of winning the majority of political comments and adds would be positive. If you read or watch the news you know that for at least the last 55 years thehy have been almost all negative. ie: Nixon's a crook, Ronnie is a dumb hick and a racist. Goldwater is a crazy who will get us all killed.

    In the real world we generally have to pick between 2 bad candidates - so we vote against the worst. I think it is the right thing to do. As I said I voted against JFK in 04 and would do it again.

  12. Gaining control over the full legislature is particularly critical in a time when our President is opposed to American freedom. However, it does no good to have it if the Senate is going to go Obama's way because of Castle. We need to make the effort to get rid of him. We're all used to voting for the lesser of two evils, so let's at least enjoy the rare opportunity of the 2010 DE Primary when we don't have to! If Castle wins, we'll go back to holding our noses in November.

  13. But WHY is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom I adore, backing Mike Castle???


  14. The Ghost you are way off. DeleWhere is right to vote on principle. The Senate doesn't need another RINO to add to the pathetic collection of Snowe, Collins and Graham. Those three claim to be centrist Republicans but they aren't. "Republicans" who are willing to negotiate on things like ObamaCare and Cap and Trade should call themselves what they are, centrist Democrats.

    Snowe, Collins and Graham aren't helping the conservative cause when they announce they are willing to negotiate on Cap and Trade or vote for a slightly watered down version of ObamaCare. On the contrary, they provide cover for Democrats. The press loves to trumpet "Republicans" who will negotiate on higher taxes, bigger Government, and less control of our lives. They hold them up as moderates and use them to paint all other Republicans as obstructionist.

    Why anyone would want to create more of that in the name of Republican control is beyond me. If the Republicans end up with a bunch of RINOs in the Senate the likely resulting legislative failure would mean that 2010 was a temporary setback for Democrats leading to 2012.

  15. Mr. Jacobson,
    Excellent post. Thanks.

    Another thought: I'm not convinced at all that propping a centrist or a moderate is the way to "win the middle" as RINO's like to say. Reagan showed us that a decent Manichaean choice now and then is rather desirable.

  16. Everyone is missing the point on this race.This election in Deleware is less about the GOP taking control of the senate but more about who will lead the GOP in the senate,Jim Demitt or Mitch McConell.

  17. Yay, you are my hero even though your advice is clearly reactionary and could lead us into anarchy in no time flat. The pushback from the RINO crowd with their endless reiteration of O'Donnell's problems increasingly reminds me of the Dem's pushback against any Republican/Conservative/Moderate/Non-Leftist-Marxist-Socialist candidate.

    Of course, I don't live in Delaware but since I'm only 35 minutes away in suburban Philadelphia, so ....Away We Go!

  18. The issue is of course to get rid of the Democrates, but in many ways the Republicans are just as bad. I feel that a message should be sent to the Republican elite to the effect that we have had enough of business as usual. I would thus lean to a non-RINO, especially if they have major support from headquarters.

  19. Thomas Gann: excellent point.

    I find it interesting that Demint and McPalin never seem to collaborate on their endorsements. Here in CA, we had a bona-fide Republican conservative in Chuck DeVore running for the GOP nomination to oppose Barbara Boxer in November. He was also endorsed and financially backed by Demint's RSCC and led in the polls. Until McCalin conspired with the traitorous CA state GOP and national GOP establishment to shoe horn that liberal ink blot Carly Fiorina into the nomination. DeVore would have been a vote for Demint. Fiorina will be a vote for McConnell.

    I'm voting 3rd party again because I never vote for liberals or Democrats, especially if they run as Republicans.

  20. Thank you, Professor Jacobson. This is the most level-headed assessment of the Delaware primary I've seen.

  21. The greatest difficulty in debating this is the tendency of so many self-appointed guardians of conservative principles to blithely cast as "RINOs" or even liberals Republicans whose record is not perfect from a conservative perspective. For example, David above lumps Graham together with Snowe and Collins as "RINOs" or worse. One sees a lot of that among commenters on Riehl's site with John McCain often thrown into the mix.

    This is patently absurd. Graham has a LIFETIME record of voting on the conservative side of key issues of 90%, according to the American Conservative Union. Only 14 of 41 sitting GOP Senators had a higher lifetime rating. In 2009, Graham's rating was 96%, which means he voted on the conservative side of 24 out of 25 issues. In sharp contrast, Snowe and Collins both have a lifetime ACU rating of 50% and 50% in 2009, as well.

    What this sort of silly crap means is that only a small handful of GOP Senators might be regarded as "conservative" and the rest are all "RINOs." So this is not just about Castle; it's about whether some folks would be able to accept ANY Republican Party that is likely to exist in their lifetimes.

    Some of this may be a function of age -- of understanding that even the greatest conservative heroes of the recent past could be cast as "RINOs" too if such foolishly sectarian ideological standards were applied to them. The real Ronald Reagan was a smart, pragmatic politician who knew how to create and maintain effective electoral coalitions. As Governor of California, he signed into law one of the nation's first "abortion reform" laws, making so-called therapeutic abortions legal in the state. A bit later, he called for a massive tax increase in the face of a big deficit, then signed into law a hugely progressive income tax. One or both of those acts would surely get him venomous hostility from many of today's guardians of what they suppose to be Reagan's legacy.

    Then, there was Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, still (properly) lionized as the father of the contemporary conservative movement. Goldwater sought to turn the GOP away from its post-New Deal "me-tooism" exemplified by Tom Dewey, Eisenhower, Nixon, Rockefeller and George Romney. But he staunchly backed the "pro-choice" position, pushed his protege Sandra O'Connor for the Supreme Court and regarded the New Right with deep suspicion and even hostility. When Jerry Falwell said that every good Christian should reject O'Connor, Goldwater shot back famously that every good Christian should kick Falwell in the nuts.

    It's not a zero sum game, people. You win by steps, which is what both Reagan and Goldwater both clearly understood.

  22. Correction of a typo in my earlier comment. I meant to write McPalin, not McCalin. What irony!

  23. Great, reasoned post.

    I must say that I don't always agree with Dan Riehl, and from what I gather, he is a somewhat dyspeptic fellow. That said, I think he's absolutely right this time.

    Prof. Bainbridge's piece strikes me as intellectually dishonest on many points. Most tellingly, he accuses everybody who doesn't support his views on illegal immigration and gay marriage as being 'exclusivists' stuck in a 'small tent' philosophy. But is this really true? An overwhelming majority of the public supports the Arizona anti-illegal immigration laws for instance. And regarding gay marriage- even though one might not view this as morally just- the fact of the matter is that Americans in most polls almost always oppose it (including in the deepest of deep Blue states). Simply because Prof. Bainbridge declares something as fact does not make it so.

    A lot of commenters here have misinterpreted the overall thrust of Reagan's famous '80% rule'. The idea was that it was better to have a Republican on his side who would vote against him 20% of the time, than a Democrat would vote against him most of the time. That is a commonsense notion, and most conservatives have no real problems with Republicans like Rudy, Chris Christie, Scott Brown, et al- you're not always going to agree with them (especially on social issues), but basically, they are fiscally conservative and will often take your side on the most important issues.

    How then does supporting a candidate like Castle- who voted for *Obama's* agenda 60% of the time- meet Reagan's rule?

    I find it hard to believe that Reagan would have supported a rule that allowed Republicans to vote against him 60% of the time, and in doing so, helped to undermine his most important policies (and blur the stark line between conservative and liberal).

    And why support a candidate who voted for Cap and Trade in the House, when it will only cost our economy even more jobs in this recession once it is ultimately passed and signed into law...and used by the President to blame Republicans for this result? And if Castle is really opposed to Obamacare, why hasn't he signed Representative King's discharge petition in support of repealing it?

  24. Mr. Burke,
    I agree that one should be careful about labeling some people as RINO. One of the most disturbing aspects of the Republican party is the intolerance for abortion. I know the issue is emotional and that many conservatives do not necessarily view themselves as pro-life. Thus, some groups will list those that are weak on the abortion issue as "RINO". However, someone like Graham has taken a stance that most conservatives can not stomach. He has been supportive of illegal immigration and has been for cap and trade. I other words, his views on major issues that would destroy the country and the economy have not been in keeping with good conservative view.

    I feel that the national party needs to be told that many of us want a return to freedom and to be left alone. Also, that lower taxes and a smaller government are necessary to save the country. The problem is that religious groups are taking the opportunity to push their agenda and this will weaken us all.

  25. John Burke, I think it's a bit disingenuous to selectively choose pieces of Reagan's political legacy, and then only tell half the story of what happened.

    When Reagan became Governor of California he had no previous political experience, and his staff was ill-equipped for the task ahead.

    While he did reluctantly sign the Therapeutic Abortion bill into law as a neophyte politician, he soon admitted that he wished he had paid closer attention to the language of the bill, once the law took a much different form as applied than he had anticipated. He also felt much guilt over his action. While he may have not been as strong a supporter of pro-life issues as president as some claim, to cast him in the light of being a pro-choice supporter is simply not true.

    Similarly, while he did raise taxes as part of a compromise in his first year as Governor in order to tackle the budge deficit he inherited from his predecessor, you can't side-step the fact that two years later, when he had a surplus, he returned that money to the taxpayers in the form of a rebate. To leave out the rebate distorts the full story. And going forward, Reagan's views on taxes and growing the economy became more refined as he gained experience. His views of taxation policies were much changed once he became president.

    It was the successes in the latter half of his first term (once he began to hit full stride), and his second term that made him presidential candidate material, and not the stumbling in his first year.

  26. A.G. -- My point was not that Reagan was some sort of phoney conservative. That would be silly. It's just that one could have in 1968 denounced Reagan as a "RINO" just as easily as some now lump Graham and McCain, absurdly, together with Snowe and Collins as "RINOs." Ditto for Barry Goldwater.

    If a guy comes through for your point of view over time, you should recognize that -- not tie him to one or another action he took for some understandable political or governmental reasons (e.g., Reagan believed getting the deficit under control was more important than vetoing a tax increase) ad infinitum.

    That's what people are doing with respect to McCain, for example. The guy could hardly be more conservative NOW -- with voting matching up against DeMint, et al -- but he's forever "tainted" by McCain-Feingold for some folks. One should embrace him for what he does now. Isn't that so?

  27. Whether Republicans are up a vote, or down a vote or two, in the Senate will not alter the course of history...

    ...except for the next Supreme Court vacancy moving through Committee or onto the floor for a vote. Holding the majority against an administration who's lost the initiative can wondrously stiffen a spine or two.

    Otherwise, it's "Welcome back, Chairman Leahy"

    If I had only a choice between a House or Senate
    majority, I'd take the House. That's where the
    tax and spending bills originate. The Senate is where good ideas go to die.

  28. John Burke, again I'd have to respectfully disagree on many points. As to your argument about McCain coming around to the more conservative side, I just don't buy it from him.

    The reality is, McCain was in a very difficult primary race (especially at first before Hayworth imploded) in which he was forced to spend 20 million even before the actual race in November. I think his current more 'conservative' posture has more to do with saying the right things to win the primary, than some kind of latter-day conversion to conservatism. (I hope I'm wrong, quite honestly).

    The difference between Reagan and somebody like McCain is that Reagan was believable as a conservative, and after 'learning the ropes' in his first few years he was very consistent in applying conservative principles, unlike McCain.

    Further, Reagan worked to unite his party; McCain has repeatedly undermined it throughout his career (and it's much, much more than simply McCain-Feingold: his opposition to the Bush tax cuts, his views on illegal immigration, etc., etc.). I don't think it's a surprise to say that most people will not trust somebody who has undercut them in the past. And McCain is already hedging his remarks about amnesty now that he has won the primary...

    As for the concern about the 'RINO' tag, David7134 brought up good points about Graham's support for cap and trade and his views on illegal immigration. While it is true that he has an overall conservative voting record, I agree with David that these are very important conservative issues. I agree with you that the name-calling is pretty juvenile, but the positions *are* important.

    It's easy to look at both of those issues in isolation, but when one considers the fiscal impact that they could potentially have, I think you will understand why conservatives are opposed to them. Cap and Trade is a massive stealth tax and a job killer; amnesty for illegal immigrants (in addition to likely providing more votes for Democrats) adds an enormous cost burden to our country, which is already drowning in debt. Similarly, Graham voted to confirm Kagan: how can one preach limited government principles, and then vote for somebody who supports an expanded view of government intrusion through the commerce clause? It's completely incoherent.

    Finally, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, most conservatives don't have a real problem with Blue state Republicans like Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Norm Coleman, etc., even though they have more moderate records. Why then do Lindsey Graham and McCain draw their ire? Because they represent Red states (Graham, especially) and they have been known to to betray the issues that their constituents support. Would it really be any different to most liberals, if a Democrat Senator represented a deep Blue state, and wound up opposing liberals on key issues throughout his/her career?

  29. Why do you assume that someone who doesn't vote for Castle should vote for O'Donnell?

    It's one thing not to vote for Castle because you can't stomach his politics.

    But to affirmatively vote for O'Donnell you have to look past how ridiculously crazy she comes across, with wild allegations about people hiding in her bushes and radio hosts being on the take. She is going to get hammered on these things, and she will be the face of the movement.

    An O'Donnell win on Tuesday would seriously damage the face of the Tea party movement, to a greater degree, even, than Angle's win in NV has.

  30. Thanks A.G. You make the point I was trying to make more clearly than I was able.

    John Burke, whether the "lump" is Graham and Snowe or McCain and Graham or any other combination of Republicans whose support of conservative principles has been inconsistent I believe my point was valid. Also, I am not a reader of Dan Riehl’s site although I have nothing against him. I just don’t find myself drawn back there. I’m a lifelong Republican, voted for Reagan both times, and think if McCain had held to conservative principles more closely he may have won the election.

    The idea that really galls me is the notion that Republicans have to be willing to move to the center in order to win. The Democrats are so far left right now that moving any closer to them is not moving toward the center. It is moving into the left.

    Republicans who hold to conservative principles haven’t lost sight of this. They know that more government programs mean bigger government, reduction in personal freedoms, and increased costs which result in increased taxes on the American people. They don’t need to be told that programs like National Health Care, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Cap and Trade (if passed) will create outsized government bureaucracies, huge inefficiencies, new opportunities for favoritism and cronyism, and higher costs. Politicians who don’t understand this, who think everything is negotiable regardless of where the negotiation starts, who don’t have a feel where the true center of the country is or a set of principles to guide them aren’t what this country needs.

    You may have forgotten or may just not know that there were reports when Reagan came onto the political scene that he scared the American people. That the “people”, whoever they were, thought he was extreme and his election would lead the country to disaster. But Reagan had a better understanding of the American people than the typical politician of the time. Not only that he understood the limitations of government, he could explain them in a way in which ordinary citizens could understand, and he ultimately moved the political center back into closer alignment with the American people. We look back on Reagan’s legacy from a different place now because he led us there.

    We need more Reagans, not more Collins, Snowes and Grahams. We need more people who will hold to conservative principles and not negotiate for the sake of appearances. I believe, this country is at one of those junctures that will determine the course it will take for the next 20 years or more. We need to send Republicans to Washington who will steadfastly support conservative principles. Otherwise, twenty years from now government will be even bigger and personal freedoms will have been further eroded.

    BTW. I didn't call anyone a RINO in this post. My intent in my previous post wasn't "name calling" it was just shorthand for someone who claims to be a conservative but doesn't consistently support conservative principles. I guess political correctness means that we have to spell it out every time.