The Fox-Limbaugh industrial propaganda complex once again discovered its own limitations on Tuesday when, despite an all out push to win the NY-23 congressional seat, and giving the race a mesmerizing air of inevitability (“teabaggers are rising up in crushing numbers; we’ll win in a landslide!”), it nevertheless failed to do so. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight says the Blue Dog Democrats should be breathing a sigh of relief:
NY-23 . . . ought to be rather relieving. Certainly, there were a whole host of local factors and unusual contingencies on the ground in NY-23. But it also spoke to the limitations of conservative populism (CP) as an electoral instrument. (You can call the CP’s ‘teabaggers’ if you want, but my term is both more neutral and more descriptive.) There’s not really any evidence that the CP movement is yet anything more than an isolated and regional one. It will almost certainly have some implications in the South — and if I were a Democratic Congressman there, I’d be very nervous. But only 18 of the 52 Blue Dogs in fact come from the South, and if I were a conservative Democrat in California, or South Dakota, or Michigan, I’d be feeling rather relieved.
My take on Tuesday’s elections: the electorate is a fickle god. You can pray to it, you can speak to it, you can throw money at it, but a god is going to do what it’s going to do. Money and propaganda are important at the margins, but in the face of larger trends (demographic or economic) no amount of bullshit, noise, or static stops the rushing train.
Democrats in 2010 need to pray to the god of the economy, not the god of the electorate. If the economy revs up next year, everything else follows. Or as Carville used to say: “It’s the economy, stupid.”