Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Cry Not For Mike Castle

I don't have much sympathy for Mike Castle, though I do regret his defeat.  If you are going to have a chance as a moderate Republican in this environment you need to find a some high salience positions that get strong support from conservatives and enough support from nonconservatives so that you have majority support and push those issues really hard.  That is what Susan Collins did in 2008 with card check and what Scott Brown did in 2010 with Obamacare, tax cuts, and civilian trials for terrorists.  Check out Castle's website to get an idea of how badly he miscalculated the environment.  In fact, I'm thinking maybe we are better off with O'Donnell.

Actually not really.  There is a fairly narrow band of issues (where public opinion is ambiguous) where, because we will probably have a liberal Democrat rather than a (very) moderate Republican Senator, it is marginally more likely that liberal initiatives will be passed and conservative initiatives blocked.  I don't know how many such issues there will be, but Obamacare only passed the filibuster threshold by one vote. 

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 3 Comments

In the end, the more interesting question is not whether we're "better off" with O'Donnell but what are people trying to say by getting rid of Castle? Had there been a better candidate than O'Donnell who was not Castle, I think he or she would have carried the day just the same. I don't think O'Donnell won this so much as Castle lost it. Anyone running for office this year ought to hear that message loud and clear. Whether O'Donnell can continue to ride that wave given the rocks she seems to have lobbed in her own path, I cannot say. I won't be surprised to see that one go either way. I think Republican strategists who suggested Castle was the better candidate because he was the "kind of Republican" who can win in DE are reading a dated playbook. But those who questioned whether O'Donnell is a better representation of what a Republican ought to be were asking fair questions, it seems to me.

Yes, the political mood is "throw the bums out" and people are hoping not to be putting in bums the next time. The question of people who voted for O'Donnell is "Can an amateur do any worse than an old pro?" They may actually get to find out.

Julie, had there been a better candidate than O'Donnell who was not Castle, it might have been better to vote for the better candidate. I agree that Castle shot himself in the foot by not taking O'Donnell seriously and not putting together an agenda of issues on which conservatives and persuadables agreed (and liberals didn't) and pushing it real hard. I'm not so sure that his approach would not have fared better in a general election. Though by this week the bad blood between Castle and committed conservatives was so bad that even if he had scrapped by, he still risked losing tens of thousands of right-leaning voters who refused to vote for him as fallout from the primary. I think the why question of what O'Donnell voters were trying to say is interesting (and I think Kate has a big part of the answer along with one-of-usism and most of all real policy differences), but so is the question of whether in this case, voting Castle out advanced the policy preferences of many of those who voted against him. I'm not 100% on the answer (Coons could have won anyway, O'Donnell might pull off a miracle), but my best guess is no.

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