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How to win if you’re a Democrat

Posted by Richard on May 19, 2010

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Democrat Mark Critz beat Republican Tim Burns in the PA-12 special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat. Burns faced an uphill battle to say the least — notwithstanding the media narrative that the Critz win was an unexpected setback for the GOP. Democrats have a 2-1 voter registration advantage in the district, and it elected the late Murtha (Critz's boss) 18 times, generally by margins like 60-40 or 70-30.

The Critz campaign's success actually provides a blueprint for Democrats running for Congress this fall to follow: 

  • Critz opposed Obamacare and cap-and-tax.
  • He emphasized economic growth and job creation.
  • He favored budget cuts to reduce the deficit.
  • He was pro-gun-rights and anti-abortion.
  • He took a hawkish stand on illegal immigration.
  • He kept the President at arms length and out of the district.

I suspect a Socialist Democrat embracing Obama and Pelosi would have lost. So the lesson for Dems is you can win by running as a bluer-than-blue Blue Dog, someone hard to distinguish from a mainstream conservative Republican.

That's actually the same formula that got a bunch of Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008. The difference is that then it was applied in mostly southern and western districts that were toss-ups or leaned Republican. This time it was applied in a northeastern district that, although socially conservative, is decidedly Democratic.

It'll be interesting to see where the Blue Dog strategy works this November. And whether it works at all for the Democrats elected in 2006 and/or 2008 as Blue Dogs who subsequently became Pelosi's lapdogs.

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