Matt Yglesias says of the Republicans’ dismal Senate prospects: “Back in January 2007, the congressional Republicans reached the conclusion that lockstep support for the wildly unpopular president and his wildly unpopular war was the right way to respond to the Democrats’ big win in 2006. I think some folks are going to be standing around in January 2009 wondering why they thought that was a good idea.”
Maybe. Except that independence from President Bush or even outright opposition to the Iraq war didn’t seem to help many Republicans in 2006. Lincoln Chafee was defeated, after all. So were antiwar House Republicans John Hostettler and Jim Leach, the former by a pro-war Democrat. The major reasons for the GOP’s Senate troubles this year is the number of seats up for reelection either in swing states or states trending Democratic, the number of Republicans up for reelection relative to Democrats, poor GOP candidate recruitment, and solid Democratic candidate recruitment. That’s not to say that the war and Bush’s unpopularity aren’t the main causes of the GOP’s unpopularity. They are. But it is less clear that Norm Coleman or John Sununu could have saved themselves from tough races by being more independent.
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