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Genuine conservatism in candidates key for GOP success

The major lesson for Louisiana, and perhaps for the country as a whole, from federal elections in the state is that in this era where the main Democrat strategy is to demonize Republicans, the GOP triumphs if their candidates are genuine conservatives, run as a conservatives, and explain honestly issue preferences when they seem to deviate from conservatism.

Those in the know did not take seriously Sen. Mary Landrieu’s claim of a huge lead over state Treasurer John Kennedy for her reelection, but Kennedy’s loss was not surprising either. Landrieu actually won by more than a pittance for the first time in her Senate-chasing career because of doubts about Kennedy’s genuineness as a conservative, having run just four years earlier espousing some liberal issue preferences. Suspicious about Kennedy, enough voters decided that if they had to choose between the liberal-but-trying-to-appear moderate Landrieu and the conservative-now-but-liberal-past Kennedy, they would go with the she-devil they knew.

But it’s possible that the “Obama effect” also may have contributed to Landrieu’s win. With a black at the top of the Democrat ticket, although we will know for sure in a few days when the final statistics are compiled, I’m willing to estimate that black turnout (reviewing almost all-black precincts in Caddo Parish from 2004 and 2008) was up about 5 percent. Computing that to the number of registered blacks in time for this election and assuming almost all voted for Landrieu as long as Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy had gotten them to the polls gives Landrieu another 42,000 or so votes. These two factors together probably gave Landrieu the win.

In other words, had Kennedy not run to the left in the 2004 Senate contest as a political expediency to separate himself from other candidates and had Sen. Hillary Clinton been this year’s Democrat presidential nominee, Landrieu would not have successfully tempted fate again.

But no such luck spared Democrat Rep. Don Cazayoux in his defeat for reelection to the 6th Congressional district by Republican state Sen. Bill Cassidy. (Note to aspiring Louisiana politicians – get yourself a medical degree, as Cassidy joins another physician Rep. Charles Boustany who won an easy reelection in the state’s delegation and Dr. John Fleming captured the Fourth’s GOP nomination where he will be a slight favorite to win in December.) Cazayoux like Landrieu played the liberal-in-moderate’s clothing card and also claimed a huge polling lead but Cassidy, a lifelong conservative, was a much more effective foil to moot that tactic. (It should not have come as a surprise as Cassidy had demonstrated this ability to beat faux moderates in his initial run for the state Senate.)

Cassidy fell just short of half the vote so on the surface it would appear the placement of Democrat-turned-independent state Rep. Michael Jackson may have cost Cazayoux the election, since it can be assumed almost all of his votes would have gone to Cazayoux. But if that was Cazayoux’s bad luck, his good luck would have been the Obama effect. Reviewing East Baton Rouge almost all-black precincts, Cazayoux appeared to get roughly 70 percent of the black vote which comprises almost a third of the district’s registrants. Backing out from these numbers the 5 percent from the Obama effect, Cazayoux’s and Cassidy’s projected totals are nearly the same.

The only way Cazayoux could have won, given he did have minor powers of incumbency yet very few votes on which to expose his record, was in an electoral environment like this. Jackson cost him the election, and that might have been true even without the Obama effect. This simultaneously will make Jackson a pariah among state Democrat officials and much more solicitous of black concerns the ignoring of which prompted Jackson to run in the first place. Regardless, capital-area Democrats should prepare themselves to have to wait a long time to get another chance like this.

Racial politics practiced by Democrats, in their demonizing of Republicans and holding out their party of big government as the vehicle by which to advance blacks while in reality thereby disempowering them, magnified by the presence of Obama, proved a potent force in these elections. While this backfired for Cazayoux, Landrieu benefited. But to counter this tactic on a permanent, future basis for the GOP to have electoral success, genuine conservatives must be made available to provide clear choices for voters more willing to critically appraise candidates.


Anonymous said...

I think most people would concede that Obama helped bring African Americans to the polls, which benefitted Landrieu, but John McCain won Louisiana by NINETEEN points, while Mary won by SIX. That is a HUGE subset of McCain voters that split their ticket, and cast their vote for Landrieu.

The explanation, I would think, is actually quite simple:

1: Landrieu is effective, and, despite your best efforts in attempting to convince voters otherwise, a centrist.

2. John Kennedy is an office-shopping, political opportunist. A fraud. He had nothing to offer Louisiana, save another R in the column for the national GOP. And while that may be meaningful to an extreme partisan like you, most Louisianians chose someone that would actually represent THEIR interests, rather than Karl Rove's and David Vitter's.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Dr. Sadow. I would also have to agree that failure of the Republican party to run real conservatives was the ultimate downfall. In general I believe voters cast a vote for either principles or politics. They prefer principles when give an obvious choice, but when the choice is unclear they often resort to politcs. Kennedy lacked the true proven principles to run as a conservastive "R" so many voters (as well detailed above) choose to vote "R" for President and "D" for Senate.

As always I enjoy your postings and sorry I missed your KSLA appearance. Would be interested in how you view Sarah Palin for the future through the eyes of a true conservative as a player on a national ticket again.

Scott Hughes

Anonymous said...

Good post Jeff. We had to settle with allowing the media select the Republican candidate for President this year. See what happens when your stary from core conservative values. (See the Mallard cartoon in today's paper).

Also, it will be interesting to see how Landrieu will fare next election cycle when she is not on the ballaot during a presidential election--no doubt Obama being on the ballot helped her across the state--not just in N.O.

Brad Duhe

Anonymous said...

i can't help thinking it's awesome that there has been such long lines all over... people taking a greater interest in public issues is always a good thing