Charlie Cook Unfazed By Election Results
by Jonathan Singer, Fri May 21, 2010 at 10:22:20 AM EDT
Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district was the only district in the nation to flip from John Kerry in 2004 to John McCain in 2008. A quintessentially conservative district, the seat appeared poised to move from red-to-blue after the passing of its longtime Congressman, Jack Murtha.
But something strange happened on Tuesday. Instead of backing the Republican candidate in the race, Tim Burns, voters in the district did what was all-but-unthinkable not all that long ago: backing the Democratic nominee in the special election, Mark Critz -- and not even by a narrow margin, giving him a comfortable 8-point margin of victory.
What did this massive debacle of an election for the GOP, which poured a million dollars into the race (in addition to thousands more coming from conservative activists), do to Charlie Cook's assessment that Republicans are on the brink of regaining control of the House? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Here's the latest from the Cook Political Report, via Marc Ambinder:
Overall, our outlook of a 30 to 40 seat gain for House Republicans remains unchanged.
This is quite remarkable, if you think about it. Not only do the Republicans lose a race they are supposed to easily win (in Cook's words on the eve of the election, "Republicans have no excuse to lose this race") -- but they lose it badly. Yet this result has no impact whatsoever on the view of the Cook Political Report towards the race for the House in 2010? Even Republicans are beginning to second-guess their fortunes.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is in charge of candidate recruitment for the NRCC, conceded that the $1 million-plus spent on the Pennsylvania special wasn’t well-spent.
“That’s a couple different things we’re going to have to analyze, because why does the polling show that we were close the whole time and then it not be close on election night?” McCarthy said on ABC’s “Top Line” program. “That’s a mistake on our part; that’s a mistake on our investment that we have to make a correction to.” [emphasis added]
Former Congressman Tom Davis, who spent two terms as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was even more blunt:
“If you can’t win a seat that is trending Republican in a year like this, then where is the wave?” asked Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, who said Republicans will need to examine what went wrong.
If those at the top ranks of the House GOP's campaign apparatus are beginning to publicly question whether the polling is overstating the strength of the party's position, and a former campaign chief starts wondering "where... the wave" is, might not also one of the leading election prognosticators inside the Beltway do the same? Apparently not.
LATE UPDATE from desmoinesdem: On May 25 Cook published a commentary on the PA-12 special election and its implications for November.