My mom is an election official at local Precinct 6 in Norton Shores, Michigan. Her district is solidly Republican, but after yesterday’s primaries, she told me this cautionary tale: Dick DeVos, the Republican nominee for governor, ran very well in her precinct (and is ahead of Governor Jennifer Granholm in the polls); but Pete Hoekstra, the incumbant Republican Congressman, only garnered a few hundred more votes than the unknown Democrat in the opposite primary. DeVos is running a good campaign and Michigan is hurting economically, so his advantage is not a big surprise. But Hoekstra’s slim margin in a safely Republican district does not augur well for national Republicans around the country.
This little story is a prelude to explaining why Adam Nagourney of the New York Times is right when he offers a sobering note to the GOP after the Connecticut primary. As he says, while the Lieberman defeat creates a number of problems for national Democrats, Republicans should especially beware because "the Lamont victory suggested that many Democrats — stirred by their opposition to the war and hostility toward Mr. Bush — are as energized as any group of voters in years, enough so to move them to the voting booth in huge numbers." Of course, punishing Bush is not a political platform and really doesn’t play well with moderates and independents, but the ordinary person on the street also doesn’t like $3 gas and the perceived failure to win in Iraq.
All politics may be local, but not all the time. DeVos is strong but Hoekstra is weak. And if the Democrats can somehow marry liberals’ anger with moderates’ unease, Precinct 6 may be a harbinger of serious trouble for the GOP in the fall.