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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Breaking News, Economy, Health, Law, Politics, Society | 8 comments

The First Stage of Grief

It’s denial, of course.

Political pundits will say that the Republican candidate for Congress in NY-26 lost because of Medicare. They’re wrong. This election was more of a referendum on a candidate’s ability to defend freedom than anything else.
A simple cursory view of the Davis campaign’s paid media revealed a common theme: that free trade is bad. “Both parties in Washington support trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas,” intoned the narrator of one. He’s critical of “trade deals like NAFTA” and he’s dedicated to making sure Washington “puts American jobs first.”

At the Club for Growth, we believe that people who are free to buy from, sell to, and invest with one another as they choose can achieve far more than when governments attempt to control economic decisions. Consumers reap the benefits of free trade: They receive lower prices, greater variety, and better quality. It’s an undeniable fact recognized by economists everywhere that global markets benefit companies large and small across America and have created millions of jobs.

One of Jane Corwin’s many problems was that she did not articulate a strong free-market message to voters that might have blunted the false scare tactics of Jack Davis. Corwin failed to convey a clear response to Davis’s position that protectionism and tariffs on China would protect American jobs. In fact, tariffs on Chinese goods are nothing more than a sales tax for upstate New York. Tariffs of any kind kill American jobs, and hurt our economy. Support for free trade is the principled position that’s supported by the facts, and yet the Corwin campaign didn’t seem to be in any hurry to stand on principle. In fact, in a TV ad released by the Corwin campaign at the end of March, Corwin said she would “oppose trade agreements that just aren’t fair.”

Maybe Jane Corwin really did believe in protectionism, and that’s her right. Either way, when Republicans nominate candidates who can’t articulate and won’t stand on free-market principles, they will continue to end up with the problems they are faced with in NY-26. Corwin was probably the best choice of the three candidates running — but her failure to stand on principle is what caused a safe Republican seat to fall into the hands of a liberal Democrat tonight.

So Corwin didn’t lose to Hochul over Medicare. She lost to Davis over free trade.


Paul Ryan himself thinks Republicans did lose NY-26 over his Medicare plan. But not because his plan effectively ends Medicare for Americans under 55. No, according to Ryan, it’s because Democrats made seniors think his plan would end Medicare for them. Democrats lied, he says. His plan would not end Medicare for seniors now. It would only end Medicare for seniors in 10 years. If only the seniors in NY-26 understood that they will not lose their benefits — only their children or their younger siblings or friends or neighbors — they would have realized what a fine plan it was.

“I saw the ads,” Ryan said. “I saw burning people’s Medicare cards. If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that’s going to have an effect. And that is exactly what took place here. So yes, yes, it’s demagoguery, it’s scaring seniors.”

Au contraire, Mr. Rising Star:

Newsflash: Seniors like their single-payer health-care system. And other voters like the prospect of having the protection of a single-payer health-care system when they get older, too.

However, never underestimate Republicans’ ability not to get the message. Today, Senate Democrats forced a vote on the Ryan plan, and only five Republicans voted against it.

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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • howardowens

    One thing that’s important to know about the district is that as part of the rust belt, there’s a strong anti-NAFTA sentiment.

    That’s what helped propel Jack Davis to a near victory in 2006.

    If you look at the two Siena Polls, you see support peeling away from Davis between two polls.

    So what happened? Well, Karl Rove launched more than $300K in anti-Davis ads, there was the Michael Millia incident and Jack backed out of a debate he had previously committed to.

    I believe Jack was pretty teflon to the negative ads. Everything bad one could say about Jack was already known and factored into his 24 percent support.

    It was also that ‘known commodity” that make the Michael Millia video attack on Jack so misguided. There was no upside for the Corwin campaign in the ambush and a 20something attacking a 76-year-old former Marine didn’t harm Jack at all.

    What hurt Jack was backing out of the debates. I’ve heard from several voters, “If you’ll back down from a political debate, who will he back down to in Congress,” and the like.

    So when the votes started peeling away, where did they go to?

    Look at the polls — they went to Hochul. Why? Because Hochul stated a strong anti-NAFTA position.

    Corwin was wishy-washy on it, but when she said she favored “fair trade,” it telegraphed that she’s trying to hide the fact that she is really a free trader, something she could NEVER overtly admit in this district.

    There’s no way to dress up job-killing free trade in this district. To defend it is to lose votes. The only thing Corwin could have done to beat Jack or Kathy on this issue would have to been to promise to carry a bill to repeal NAFTA. If she had, the Rove attacks on Davis might have actually worked.

  • casualobserver

    Nice to have someone posit a thoughtful analysis anchored from a personal knowledge perspective, Howard. Thanks for sharing that breath of fresh air here.

    The only thing better would be to have some exit polling data.

    That current seniors are the obstacle is instructional. Definitely goes to the R inability to communicate.

    Look what Trump was able to do in a week and a half’s time. Got Obama up against a wall with nothing more than rhetoric, but it was easily understood rhetoric. In your face rhetoric is quite effective if delivered with an undertone of credibility.

    18 months is a lifetime to work anything if done in a way that can resonate. The Rs just need to find the right script to go after Obama with.


    “Look what Trump was able to do in a week and a half’s time. Got Obama up against a wall with nothing more than rhetoric, but it was easily understood rhetoric. In your face rhetoric is quite effective if delivered with an undertone of credibility”

    Extremely poor example.

    “Easily understood rhetoric”? Perhaps to he birthers and the other crazies.

    “Got Obama up against a wall”? Which wall? Perhaps the wall surrounding Osama bin Laden’s compound which our intelligence agencies were scouting and our brave SEALs breached while Trump was peddling his muck, lies and hate?

    “Look what Trump was able to do in a week and a half’s time.” Look what happened to Trump in day and-a-half’s time.

    “In your face rhetoric is quite effective if delivered with an undertone of credibility.”

    “Credibility”? Is that what one calls Trump’s self-aggrandizing, thin-skinned, pompous, idiotic behavior?

  • slamfu

    Lol Obama’s back was never up against a wall with the birther thing for one very good reason. He was a citizen and had the proof for it the whole time. He just wanted the birther crowd to commit to it, showing themselves for the fools they are before he dropped the boom. It was the most rediculus issue in modern politics, which is really saying something, and apparently a huge chunk of the GOP base was swallowing it. Lol, they are going to have to come up with a much better angle of attack come 2012 if they want a win. Nothing they’ve done lately has shown they have any idea what one of those looks like.

  • ShannonLeee

    The NAFTA angle is absolutely silly. Maybe the Fox News crowd will believe it, they’ll believe anything… but the rest of the country (at least those paying attention) know otherwise.

    A pathetic attempt at spinning a defeat. Reps know Medicare is why they lost, apparently they want to keep driving that car right off of a cliff. The political analyst that came up with “free trade” should be fired.

    And as far as 10 years go….I think most people believe they will be alive 10 years from now…senior or not…(all of my grandparents lived to 100)…so yes, those seniors did think Ryan was going after THEIR Medicare.

  • SteveinCH
  • DLS

    Casual Observer wrote:

    18 months is a lifetime to work anything if done in a way that can resonate. The Rs just need to find the right script to go after Obama with.

    Inspiration: Separate the PC-celeb-icon-cult-figure myth from fact.


    Shannon Lee

    Actually, I paid very close attention and Howard Owens is absolutely correct. Medicare may very well have tied up the race, but the deciding votes were swung on Trade and NAFTA. Its clear in the evidence I posted in this blog piece.

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