With Romney, people expected an inoffensive technocrat who would not scare the children or horses – someone who could get the votes of the moderate voters who get turned off by things like “ideology” or “confrontation” or “beliefs.” Maybe Mitt would not be much of an asset to an aspiring GOP Senate candidate, but he would certainly not drag anyone down. That is the conventional wisdom about Mitt.That may be the best case scenario, but not necessarily reflective of reality. How many Republicans and anti-Obama independents may figure Newt's a sure loser and will just stay home, depriving GOP Senate candidates of easy votes? There will be some, that's for sure.
But Newt shakes up that paradigm. The new conventional wisdom is that Newt’s caravan of baggage will so turn off voters that not only will they hand the GOP a rejection of Mondalian proportions in November but they will further take out their anger on the GOP’s senate candidates. So, the conventional wisdom goes, Obama will sail to reelection with a rejuvenated Senate majority and perhaps even the House. There goes the Republic.
Except the conventional wisdom, upon closer examination, makes little sense even on its own terms. It assumes that the voters are at least disappointed, if not angry, with Obama – if they weren’t, he would win no matter who we nominate. It also depends completely on the assumption that the intense dislike that the majority of voters feel for Newt personally is the reason for his inevitable failure. These two currents do not flow together – they collide.
Voters rejecting Newt would therefore be doing it not because they wanted Obama – they do not want Obama. They just want Newt less. But that personal animus toward Newt would not necessarily be transferred toward the GOP senate candidates themselves.
Newt is uniquely polarizing, argues the conventional wisdom. If so, then it will be an easy matter for GOP Senate candidates to distinguish themselves from the guy at the top of the ticket. Candidates always scatter like roaches when an unpopular presidential candidate wanders into town. Just look at Obama when he flew into reddish Arizona– he wasn’t met by a herd of donkeys but by Republican Jan Brewer, whose politeness in doing so was met with characteristic ungraciousness.
In fact, distaste for Newt coupled with distaste for Obama could help GOP Senate candidates. Holding their nose to vote to reelect the president does not mean they want to give him the ability to keep going with the politics of division, bailouts and class warfare that have wreaked his approval numbers. Suddenly, voting for the Senate GOP candidates becomes much more attractive, even to moderates, when splitting the ticket means kneecapping the Obama campaign to transform America into the United States of Greece.
Voters aren’t dumb. They know that a GOP senate is the best check on a lame duck Obama, and they may even be willing to split the ticket to vote out Democrat warhorses like Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who might otherwise have no chance of defeat, in order to balance their vote against Newt. In other words, Newt dragging down the top of the ticket might well give a boost to the bottom.
You can read the rest at the link.