Crazy Enough To Win
Why Democrats shouldn't feel overconfident about beating some of those wacky Republican nominees.
Democrats argue that the talent that got them through primaries won't work in general elections. Markos Moulitsas, whose Daily Kos blog and bloggers fought the good fight against 2006's lame establishment Democrats—he co-wrote a book about it, Crashing the Gate—argues that the Tea Party has put more seats into play.
"It's a bad climate," said Moulitsas. "But the teabaggers are throwing Democrats a lifeline. They may still win those seats, but they'll have to fight a lot harder to win them and suck up resources that could've been concentrated in places like Washington and Wisconsin. … Those seats would've been off the table had Republicans nominated their establishment choices."
Maybe. But Democrats haven't yet fully engaged. This campaign season has yet to see any truly despicable negative ads, and Republicans in 2010 may be more vulnerable to them than Democrats were in 2006. The "crazy" thing about Carol Shea-Porter was that she passionately opposed the Iraq war. Lucky for her, so did New Hampshire. The "crazy" thing about Angle, by contrast, is that she wants to privatize Social Security, and she's trying to fight back by disingenuously pretending that she doesn't.
Still, the success of Shea-Porter—or is it the failure of Jeb Bradley?—should give Democrats pause. "I don't think anybody in Washington thought I could possibly lose, and I lost," said Bradley. "For everybody who says Sharron Angle or Rand Paul can't win, there's a Jeb Bradley who can prove them wrong."
Correction, Aug. 13, 2010: This article originally misidentified the Kentucky district John Yarmuth represents. It's the 3rd, not the 1st District. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet at him @daveweigel.
Photograph of Nathan Deal by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.