Lesson One: Obama's economic policy is the winning issue for the Republican Party. Look to the California 10th Congressional district special election
. The district has been solid Democrat since 1996
, and voted two-to-one for Obama - yet the Republican candidate picked up 40% of the vote. If Republicans can gain ground in California's Bay Area, they can gain even more in far less blue regions.
Lesson Two: corruption is a winning issue - well, except in Chicago. (I'm dead serious about Chicago.)
Lesson Three: as I commented at the Volokh Conspiracy
, candidate selection should go to the party grassroots, not the party elite - even in a special election:
I caught a bit of Rush Limbaugh today and he pointed out a mistake that everyone should have caught: the candidate was selected by smoke-filled back room deal and not by primary. He’s absolutely right on that. Candidates must be picked by the party grassroots, not the party leaders. Legislators represent the public at large and not elites, after all. Voters resent being treated like children being force-fed their medicine.
I guess that’s why they call it the Empire State...
VC commenter James N. Gibson observed: "Also, it seems the vote turnout was low: somewhere around 130,000. Just a few years ago the vote was 225,000 and the district supposedly has 650,000 people." There's a definite connection between low voter turnout and Lesson Three. Voters had three choices: the Democrat, the hand-picked choice of party plutocrats (try to say that three times without spitting), and the late-entry upstart. You want greater turnout, you run a candidate who was first vetted by the party grassroots.
My comment concluded with these bits of advice:
Hoffman didn’t have time to mount a decent campaign, but he’s got plenty of time for next year’s race. He should hold town hall meetings — especially in districts that didn’t vote for him. As any Republican should, [he] should seek to identify issues where those voters differ from Bill Owens, especially those that hit people’s pocketbooks.
In the meantime, the NY-23 grassroots should organize a campaign for new state GOP leadership. Do political parties have recall elections?
Hoffman 2010! Who's with me?