Leave it to Rush Limbaugh to make the Democrats special election victory in Pennsylvania last night all about him. Limbaugh took exactly the wrong lesson from last night when he said today, “There’s nothing that bodes well about that race for the Democrats unless they come up with a bunch of candidates that sound like me.”
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
Limbaugh said, “The Democrats are celebrating winning in a 2-1 Democrat district. They’re celebrating. That’s the only race that counts as far as their concerned. This shows, this shows, there’s not going to be a Republican wave. There isn’t going to be a Republican current. There isn’t going to be a Republican sweep. Why what look happened in Pennsylvania 12. Yeah, 150,000 union members, 2-1 Democrat voter registration, you have a Democrat running as the Rush Limbaugh of the Democrat Party of that district, and the Democrats hold it. There nothing that bodes well for the Democrats unless they come up with a bunch of candidates that can make themselves sound like me.”
I grew up in PA-12. Until the district was gerrymandered by the state Republican legislature I voted in PA-12. In fact, if I lived one street over from my current residence, I would be in PA-12, so let me tell you what really happened. The district is 95% white. It is a huge district that encompasses parts of nine counties in Southwestern PA. The district much like most of Western PA is composed of older people and a large population over 65. It is very conservative on some issues. The people there are pro-gun and mostly pro-life, but they are also liberal when it comes to jobs and the economy. They also like earmarks and pork. In fact, they have grown to expect it.
The district is not 2-1 Democratic as Limbaugh claimed. Those are statewide numbers. PA as a state only has 800,000 union members, so I find it difficult to believe the district has 150,000 of them, because it only has 659,000 people in it. Until Murtha took the PA-12 House seat for the Democrats in 1974, it was under Republican control for the previous 32 years. This is a district that supported McCain over Obama. Unlike like what Limbaugh suggested PA-12 is not a liberal place.
PA-12 was a race that was leaning Republican until the last couple of weeks of the campaign, so what happened? How did the GOP lose? The Republicans lost by having their candidate, Tim Burns run a national campaign against Pelosi and Obama, when the district was more interested in local issues. Burns and the national GOP completely misjudged the electorate, but PA-12 was ripe for the taking, and the GOP blew it. If Republicans could not flip this district, then they really are screwed.
It wasn’t that Mark Critz was like Limbaugh. No, he did the better job of reflecting the values of the voters in the district. Critz took away the abortion and Second Amendment issues, and focused on the economy. He has next to nothing in common with Limbaugh, and his approach would not work for other Democrats in other districts, but in PA-12 it was perfect. Limbaugh’s claim that the only way that Democrats can win is to be more like him is the kind of half baked analysis that occurs when national figures try to interpret a local election. The worst thing the Dems could do is be more like Rush Limbaugh in 2010 or any other election year.