Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Would you use an app that tells you the partisan affiliation of products you're considering buying?

Review your answers and share
ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Why Republicans are depressed

What goes around…

In 2010, Republicans had one major unearned weapon: virtually everyone in politics believed that they had seen this movie before, in 1994, and it ended with a GOP landslide.

We’re now in a point in the cycle in which this process has reversed. Barack Obama is receiving a bit of an unearned advantage because everyone thinks that we’re in 1995, leading to a presidential victory on the budget and a solid reelection next year.

This, I think, explains why Republicans are depressed about their presidential prospects in 2012.

The GOP’s pessimism is the story of the day (see a nice Kevin Drum item and a good Mike Allen reported piece). To be sure, the president’s approval rating per Gallup is a so-so 48%, with part of that possibly being the leftovers of a bin Laden rally effect. The economy is only mediocre at best; even if things work out “well” at this point unemployment will still be high in November 2012. Indeed, most political science election prediction models would add those things up to a close reelection fight. I believe Allen, however; I think most neutral Washingtonians and most longtime Republican insiders expect a repeat of 1996.

It’s worth noting, too, that these sorts of beliefs can have real consequences. Republican recruitment was probably helped in 2009-2010 by the belief that 1993-1994 was repeating itself, and GOP donations and enthusiasm were probably also helped by those beliefs. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans are widely affected by these low expectations, in terms of enthusiasm and decisions Congressional and even presidential candidates make about whether to run. I am struck at the extent to which everyone — Republicans included — seems to believe they’re re-running Bill Clinton’s first term and reelection campaign, and are expecting similar results.

By  |  05:24 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company