3 Things We Learned from Didier – Newhouse Congressional Race, And They’re Not Good
The spirited, sometimes contentious race between GOP candidates Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse pointed out what we think are some big trends in elections - and not all of them are good.
According to news sources on Monday of this week, Dan Newhouse proclaimed victory, and at the time was leading by over 2,500 votes over Didier, with about 3,000 left to count. As of the latest Secretary of State website data from November 12th, Newhouse had 76,724 to Didier's 74,076...a very slim margin.
But beyond this sometimes bitter election, three topics jump out.
- The closeness of the vote clearly shows the GOP, or Republican Party, is fractured. The spin doctors can say all they want, and Newhouse's handlers can say while it was a "spirited" election, we "agree" on many things. But that's not really true. Didier, like candidates in literally dozens of races across the country, represented an electorate that is fed up and frustrated by an ineffective and spineless GOP. Conservatives and Libertarians believe the GOP is not standing ground on the principles of the Constitution, and others the country was founded upon. They believe the GOP no longer fights hard enough on the issues of border security, illegal immigration, fiscal responsibility, and overall freedom (gun control, Obamacare, etc). Meanwhile, the mainstream GOP looks down, and sometimes openly attacks these Conservatives. The 'John Boehner and Mitch McConnel' GOP does everything in their power to discredit strong conservatives. Based upon who supported them, Didier and Newhouse clearly filled these roles. Didier had endorsements from Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, FreedomWorks and other conservative groups. Newhouse had support from the outgoing Doc Hastings, former Senator Slade Gorton, former AG Rob McKenna, and a host of PAC's - many from out of state - the mainstream GOP.
- The mainstream GOP, whether people will admit it or not, has resorted to liberal-style mudslinging. Years ago, the GOP used to win a lot of elections by running on principles - like Ronald Reagan did. Like it or not, the facts show numerous below-the-belt attack ads were run by the Newhouse campaign. They included the infamous "Weird and Extreme" radio and TV ads paid for by Slade Gorton's Washington's Future Political Action Committee. Over $55K was spent on this media blitz. And while Newhouse was silent on the issue - he did nothing to stop it. Other ads attempted to portray Didier (and in doing so, his supporters) as being 'too Conservative'...even "dangerous." If you didn't know better, you would think you were listening to a Democratic campaign ad. The mainstream GOP these days is more concerned about winning elections than really listening to their base, and finding out why they're disillusioned with the GOP performance. One of the most telling statements made by Didier concerning Newhouse's "experience" was that 'career politicians are why we're in the mess we are in now.'
- But perhaps the biggest point made by this election is many voters have given up. Yes, traditionally mid-term elections are known for low turnout. But the 4th. District race was an important one, and the first time in WA history two candidates from the same party faced each other in the general election. After dismal initial voting turnouts, by the time the ballots were all tallied there was some improvement. About 53% of all eligible voters in the seven counties that make up the 4th District voted. But much of that came from such counties as Grant and Adams, where turnouts were very high. That's well below the usual 60-65% or higher rates seen in years when the Presidential races are held Even many people who consider themselves to be politically active believe elected officials don't really listen to them, or care about their opinions.
That last item is the most dangerous to an electorate, because when people give up and stop trying, they lose their only ability to "control" the government that seems to be increasingly trying to control them.