Political Animal


May 25, 2011 8:40 AM A surprisingly productive May for Democrats

By Steve Benen

It’s only one month, and there will be plenty of twists and turns between now and November 2012, but I can’t help but notice that the month of May has been awfully kind to the Democratic Party.

Last night, in a major upset, Buffalo-area voters elected a Democratic congresswoman in a ruby-red district that never elects Democrats. The driving issue of the campaign: the Republican agenda in Congress.

That’s the highest-profile win for the party, but it’s also the latest in a line of recent victories.

* New Hampshire: Last week, there was a special election in a state House district where Republicans have dominated for years. The Democratic candidate won in a landslide, even after a local town clerk illegally required photo IDs to vote.

* Florida: Also last week, Jacksonville was home to a high-profile mayoral race, and the state GOP touted the election as the first warning shot of the 2012 cycle. Instead, voters elected Democrat Alvin Brown — Jacksonville’s first African-American mayor — stunning the Republican establishment statewide.

* Wisconsin: Three weeks ago, there was a special election in a Wisconsin state Assembly district that has been represented by a Republican for 16 years. In this case, the Democrat won by eight points.

* Maine: Two weeks ago, there was a special election to fill a vacancy in the state Senate, in a district that has been very competitive in the recent past. In this case, the Democrat won by a crushing 2-to-1 margin.

This is not to say that Dems are back on track after a brutal 2010. Indeed, Democrats did quite well in 2009 special elections, only to receive a “shellacking” a year later.

But Republicans started 2011 thinking the wind was at their backs, and it was the GOP with all the national momentum. After a series of losses in races Republicans expected to win with relative ease, the party would be wise to take a moment to realize Americans aren’t buying what the GOP is selling.

Indeed, it looks an awful lot like buyer’s remorse is the most common public sentiment.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on May 25, 2011 8:47 AM:

    It would be nice if buyers got some remorse BEFORE they were sold a bill of goods.


    Also, too: Beware of Conservatives bearing grifts.

  • berttheclock on May 25, 2011 8:55 AM:

    Success in May?

    It would be interesting to see "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" to become a catch phrase in various HQs of the TPers and the RNC. As "mayday" derives from the French venez m'aider, could we, finally, see some RepuG Surrender Monkies?

  • DAY on May 25, 2011 8:57 AM:

    The oracle speaks:

    The tide comes in, the tide goes out.
    But, when tasted, it is the same undrinkable water.

  • SteveT on May 25, 2011 9:06 AM:

    This is not to say that Dems are back on track after a brutal 2010. Indeed, Democrats did quite well in 2009 special elections, only to receive a �shellacking� a year later.

    Democrats should be able to take back the House and increase their numbers in the Senate. Even though the Republicans' corporate johns will be flooding the election with millions of dollars, the Democrats have the issues on their side.

    So it will be interesting to see how the Democrats manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory next year.

  • ComradeAnon on May 25, 2011 9:06 AM:

    The Bush speaks:

    The tide comes, out goes the tide.. beach gets bigger...
    Roll Tide!

  • Daniel Kim on May 25, 2011 9:08 AM:

    ". . . the party would be wise to take a moment to realize Americans arent buying what the GOP is selling."

    NO! I want them to be comfortable and confident for the next two years, as they bring out the big, crazy ideas. We haven't seen *anything* yet! I'm sure the right wing has ambitions for implanting microchip RFID tags into non-white children at birth, and other similar ideas in the can. I want them to be willing to bring it out in the open.

    When the Republicans start to look reasonable, it's not because they have come to their senses, it's because they are lying!

  • boffo on May 25, 2011 9:10 AM:

    This is a great summary of the Democratic successes. I didn't realize it was such a productive month!

  • kevo on May 25, 2011 9:18 AM:

    We Americans are accustomed to the old brag, and so when ol'Karl Rove boasted one day in the midst of the worst presidency this nation has ever known, "I'm working to make a permanent Republican majority in America," no one in particular paid any attention to him.

    We sentient beings all know, and knew at the time, such an utterance can only mean Karl was working on a one-party state (a soviet state)!

    Well, here we are, in 2011, after these political monsters have been tainting the well state by state, poisoning to the very core, Liberalism, the pillar of a free and liberty-minded people; and when Americans of good conscience actually see Karl's dream in political action, we know how to respond - punish at the polls those who would soil our ways of life!

    Watch the next election cycle Johnnyboy Boehner and Micth, the turtle, McConnell - and don't be surprised if your buddy Scotty Walker gets recalled in Wisconsin come this next January! -Kevo

  • Jack on May 25, 2011 9:24 AM:

    It's funny how much Republicans love socialism when it benefits them.

  • Stevio on May 25, 2011 9:32 AM:

    at Kevo:

    From your lips to God's ear...

    The play things of the rich, the GOP pols, will have their ears pinned back in 2012.

  • June on May 25, 2011 9:44 AM:

    The capacity of Republican pols to be endlessly delusional is such a gift to the Democratic Party.

    I saw a clip last night where some Republican House pol was yelping about how this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Republicans, this is their best chance - or something like that -- in other words, this is their best shot at repealing and replacing the New Deal. But based on what? Republicans have mistaken a gain of a few House seats through a well-funded campaign of massive lies as "the American peopel" being "with" them.

    Glad to see that reality is now shocking the hell out of them.

  • John B. on May 25, 2011 9:47 AM:

    Don't underestimate the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If Steny Hoyer, Joe Biden, possibly Barack Obama, and the rest of the Corporate Democrats have their way, budget negotiations will muddle the message on Medicare by proposing Draconian cuts in the name of the Democratic Party or, worse, turning it into a welfare program by adding a means test. Ordinarily I would favor means testing, but as FDR realized so acutely when that was proposed for the first Social Security law, depriving the well-to-do and upper middle class of a government benefit only ensures they will not rest until they destroy it for those who really need it.

  • Werewolf on May 25, 2011 10:33 AM:

    To put the win in Jacksonville in perspective-Jacksonville is ruby red. The biggest employer there is the military, and there are a LOT of adder-mean rednecks there. However, I just saw on Facebook that the Duval county schools are about to eliminate PE because of budget cuts. It's starting to come home to voters what Republican rule really means.

  • Zorro on May 25, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Republicans started 2011 thinking the wind was at their backs...

    but little did they know it was just a bunch of their own hot air.