Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Pennsylvania Senate 1991

Democrats like to imagine that the second Bush Administration will simply be an instant replay of the first Bush Administration. Four-and-out, to quote a phrase. But out there in the real world, evidence mounts that the second Bush Administration is on its way to a second term.

Go back to the first Bush Administration. In 1991, Richard Thornburgh (R-PA) was defeated in a special US Senate election in Pennsylvania by the woeful Harris Wofford. The race was widely viewed as a harbinger of things to come.

A fairly strong case can be made that this year's Kentucky gubernatorial race was/is roughly equivalent to the Pennsylvania Senate special of 1991. But the results could not have been more different. Republican Congressman Ernie Fletcher buried his Democrat opponent in a 10-point landslide.

What tipped the balance Fletcher's way? Well, 32 years of uninterrupted Democratic reign most certainly bred contempt. But Bush's strength with voters in western Kentucky was crucial to Fletcher's success.

These data are telling and they tell us a lot about not just Kentucky, but Ohio and West Virginia and Tennessee as well. And it's not good news for those residing in what Mr. Kaus calls the liberal cocoon.