By Dick Morris - 03/02/10 10:07 PM EST
In U.S. politics, all elections are not created equal. It’s OK to lose the state legislative and gubernatorial elections held on years ending in 2, 4, 6 or 8. But you can’t afford to lose those held in years that end in 0. Those are the reapportionment elections.
With the governorships evenly divided and almost all of the state legislatures, the party that loses the decadal election stands to lose control over congressional reapportionment. And, therefore, to lose control of the House of Representatives for a decade.
The reapportionment of 2000 was a kinder, gentler reapportionment. Except in Texas, where former Rep. Tom DeLay (R) took no prisoners, the two parties concluded sweetheart deals to draw lines that favored the incumbents on both sides of the aisle. In California, for example, the lines so protected Democratic and Republican opponents that there is only one vulnerable Democrat (Jerry McNerney) out of 54 congressmen from that state.
In Iowa and Arizona, reapportionment was handled, as it should be everywhere, by a nonpartisan commission that is prohibited from considering party preferences or incumbency in drawing the lines. But in the other 48, don’t count on the kinder and gentler reapportionment rules of 2000 to apply.
The partisan divide, fostered by Obama’s ruthless use of his majorities, has become so wide and embittered that Republican legislative leaders and governors will press every advantage they can to gain ascendancy. And they should!
Tip O’Neill said that all politics is local. Not anymore. In 2010, all politics is national. The merits or demerits of each individual candidate count for little. Party counts for all.
Voters have come to understand and debunk the Myth of the Moderate Democrat. The fiscal-conservative-sounding, pro-life Democrat who campaigns for office promising to balance the budget, hold down taxes and fight for our values is the same one who marches right into the halls of the House on the first day of the session and votes for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, Charlie Rangel for chairman of Ways and Means and Henry Waxman for Energy and Commerce. It is that one vote that permits Obama’s radical agenda to pass.
Voters realize that it does not matter if their local moderate Democrat breaks ranks on this bill or that one. That first vote to let the Democrats organize the House is the crucial one. From then on, Pelosi doesn’t really need him and will let him vote no to assuage his district and get reelected.
Presidents only lose when they get stuck in scandal or in their own misguided convictions. So it was with Johnson and Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate, Ford and the pardon, Reagan and Iran-Contra, Bush and the recession, Clinton and Lewinsky and Bush-43 and Iraq. Now Obama is repeating the lamentable history of his predecessors by getting stuck in the mire of his own ideology over healthcare.
So in the elections of 2010, Republicans, independents and even some Democrats (Obama’s rating is now down to 43 percent in Rasmussen) will vote a straight Republican ticket. Gone is the chic notion that party doesn’t matter and one should vote for the individual. Obama has ended those days. Now Democrats can expect the same kind of swath of destruction that will obliterate their congressional and Senate majorities to destroy their hold on statehouses and legislatures. And on the 2011 reapportionment.
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage and Fleeced. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Catastrophe, go to dickmorris.com. In August, Morris became a strategist for the League of American Voters, which is running ads opposing the president’s healthcare reforms.