Conventional wisdom and the polls suggest that 2010 will be a banner election year for the Republicans, as anti-Obama fervor continues to grow.
But Steve Benen took note of the special election yesterday in Pennsylvania's 12 District, to replace the House seat held by John Murtha. Democrats ran Mark Critz, a former Murtha staffer, against businessman Tim Burns, who touted his "outsider" status and association with the right-wing Tea Party "movement." Burns was ahead in the polls, in a district where Obama's approval rating was 35%, well below the national average of 50%.
Yet Critz won, prompting Benen to write:
Marc Ambinder noted yesterday, long before the polls even closed, "If the Republican doesn't [win], I think us pundits in Washington are going to have to revise our thinking about whether this is a wave election year for Republicans."
Once the results were in, Politico added that "Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition…. The district itself couldn't have been more primed for a Republican victory."
For those keeping score, there have been seven special elections for U.S. House seats since the president's inauguration 16 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, FL19, and PA12. Democrats have won all seven.
I certainly don't think Democrats are going to have much to rejoice in this year's upcoming midterms. But perhaps — just perhaps — the whooping won't be as bad as everybody thinks.