It has been a long-held belief among dedicated Republican pundits, that if the conservative vote is split between two candidates, the Democrat wins. This political axiom was exemplified in the 1992 and 1996 Presidential races when the conservative vote was split in both election years, handing Bill Clinton a victory with 43% and 49% of the vote respectively.
The logic of this conventional wisdom has proven to be sound in most normal political environments. The current political environment is anything but normal. In the last two years there has been a realignment of political values. Political ideology has become more important than party affiliation. An increasing number of Americans are no longer asking themselves, ‘Am I a Republican, or a Democrat?’, but rather, ‘Am I a conservative, or a progressive?’. This is a huge problem for Democrats who have spent the last two years branding themselves as ‘progressives’, both explicitly, and implicitly.
For the first time the conventional wisdom regarding the consequences of splitting the conservative vote no longer holds true. In both the Alaska and Florida US Senate Races, the Democrat is far behind in three-way races where the independent candidate is a former Republican candidate. In the Alaska Senate race, Miller (R) is polling at 38%, Murkowski at 36%, and McAdams (D) at 22%. In the Florida Senate race, Rubio (R) is polling at 42%, Crist (I) at 30%, and Meek (D) at 21%.
The Democrats have badly damaged their party by embracing the progressive label and governing accordingly. Now that the ‘progressive genie’ is out of the bottle, it is going to be very difficult for Democrats to try to put it back. American progressives, who just held the biggest progressive rally in American history this last Saturday, will not allow them to waffle now on ‘progressive’ commitments that they have made. The Dems are ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’, they cannot go forward, and they cannot go back.
The Republicans on the other hand, have been gifted by their Democratic rivals, with a tremendous opportunity. The question is, can the Republicans make the most of it?, or, will they fall back into the same old ‘RINO’ governing pattern that lead to their defeat in 2006? Time will tell, but the way it is looking right now, let’s just say, I am less than optimistic.