November 4, 2004


The GOP edge grows wider: Gains across the board may encourage a stronger Republican agenda. (Linda Feldmann and Sara B. Miller, 11/04/04, CS Monitor)

Now, more than in 2000, one-party rule is the name of the game. For the first time since the 1920s, the Republican Party has won control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives in consecutive elections.

And even though the margin of victory for each remains narrow, it grew in all three, signaling profound implications for governance in America over the next four years. Even when George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 without winning the popular vote, he plowed ahead with a bold agenda. Expect nothing different in a second term, analysts say.

"Just think of last time," says George Edwards III, a presidential scholar at Texas A & M. "He didn't hesitate, he didn't try to govern from the center, and won't do it this time."

Bush-watchers expect a period of conciliatory talk, in which the president speaks of the need to heal the nation's deep partisan divide and come together for the national good at a time of war abroad and threat to security at home. But the center in American politics is an ever-lonelier place; witness the defeat or retirement of many of the remaining conservative Democrats in the House and Senate. If Bush has learned anything from the last four years, it is that he can play hardball and win. The defeat of the Democrats' Senate leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, is the icing on Tuesday's GOP sweep - and exacerbates the Democratic Party's disarray.

Gotta love the way the media interprets the shift of the American center back to the Right as the disappearance of a center. The other point that bears mentioning is that there's a lot of hopeful talk on the Left about how second terms usually come a cropper, but that ignores the fact that Mr. Bush defied history be adding seats to his majorities in Congress and will almost certainly do so for the third straight election in 2006. We are in the earlier phase of the emergence of a permanent Republican majority, not the latter.

Todd Purdum, at least, figures it out, Electoral Affirmation of Shared Values Provides Bush a Majority (TODD S. PURDUM, 11/04/04, NY Times)

It was not a landslide, or a re-alignment, or even a seismic shock. But it was decisive, and it is impossible to read President Bush's re-election with larger Republican majorities in both houses of Congress as anything other than the clearest confirmation yet that this is a center-right country - divided yes, but with an undisputed majority united behind his leadership.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls found that a majority believed the national economy was not so good, that tax cuts had done nothing to help it and that the war in Iraq had jeopardized national security. But fully one-fifth of voters said they cared most about "moral values" - as many as cared about terrorism and the economy - and 8 in 10 of them chose Mr. Bush.

In other words, while Mr. Bush remains a polarizing figure on both coasts and in big cities, he has proved himself a galvanizing one in the broad geographic and political center of the country. He increased his share of the vote among women, Hispanics, older voters and even city dwellers significantly from 2000, made slight gains among Catholics and Jews and turned what was then a 500,000-popular-vote defeat into a 3.6 million-popular-vote victory on Tuesday.

The president's chief strategist, Matthew Dowd, released a memorandum yesterday noting that Mr. Bush had become the first incumbent Republican president to win a presidential race with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and the first president of either party since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 to be re-elected while gaining seats in both houses.

1936 seems an apt comparison, as that signalled the permanent New Deal majority for Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 4, 2004 9:19 AM

All in all, not bad for a guy the left calls a "moron" and "stupid guy".

I've got to say, this is one of the most brillant strategies in modern political history. Reagan did it and now Bush does it. Let the liberals and the left choke on their own arrogance by convincing themselves that Bush and the GOP are stupid and completely underestimating Bush. Absolutely brillant.

Posted by: pchuck at November 4, 2004 10:35 AM

For those pundits who have spent their lives in politics, the Bush/Rove approach to a campaign is unusual and I'm sure they find it difficult to square the Bush/Rove approach with the traditional certainties that they have come to rely on. However...

To anyone in the business world this is classic consumer marketing, well executed (there's that MBA again). By this approach the successful campaign (either a product or a candidate):

1) Establishes a meaningful brand with a loyal base who understands and buys into the brand's meaning.

2) Expands the brand incrementally into areas or demographics who buy into or accept part of the brand's meaning.

3) Accept that a certain portion of potential buyers will never buy into the brand's meaning and ignore them. Failure to do so only wastes resources needed to execute steps 1 and 2.

Step 3 is, I think, what particularly infuriates the reactionary left. To be summarily dismissed as unworthy of response bruises their already fragile egos.

To get a better view of how this process works I recommend Reis and Trouts' "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing". It is a short book that lays this stuff out much, much better than I have.

Posted by: Jeff at November 4, 2004 12:07 PM

Um, I thought Coolidge was a one-term President. Harding was elected in 1920, and Hoover in 1928.

If memory serves, the last time an *incumbent* Republican President was re-elected with a GOP House and Senate was actually McKinley in 1900.

Posted by: Kyle Haight at November 4, 2004 12:41 PM


Coolidge was president when he won though.

Posted by: oj at November 4, 2004 12:53 PM

Ah, Harding died in office in 1923. I'd forgotten that. My bad.

Posted by: Kyle Haight at November 4, 2004 4:44 PM