Voters stay centered

Back in the glory days of the Democratic Party — circa 2008 — there was much talk that the Republican Party had been so badly vanquished that it might never fully recover. It could end up as little more than a regional political group with no significant national voice, some thought.

Forget that. The 2010 elections gave lie to such forecasts. And two elections Tuesday confirmed that the GOP is still on the upswing.

Republicans held onto a House seat in Nevada that some believed could turn Democrat. More importantly, they captured a New York City congressional seat that Democrats had held since 1923.

It’s no surprise Republicans are gloating over their victory, but they shouldn’t get too carried away. The pendulum could easily swing back to Democrats if a majority of voters decide the GOP is not adequately serving their interests or those of the country.

That’s the point. This country has a robust two-party system, thank goodness. It is anchored by members of both parties and independents who are solidly in the center on the ideological scale.

When they perceive either party is swinging too far in one direction and failing in its core duties, they look to the other party.

Many Republicans say Tuesday’s elections point to re-election problems for President Barack Obama. That may be true, but it’s worth noting that in the autumn of 2007, it appeared the 2008 presidential race would be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Much can change in 14 months, and a great deal will depend on the state of the U.S. economy come November 2012.

For now, it’s clear that many voters distrust Obama regarding the economy. A Bloomberg Poll released Wednesday found that 51 percent of Americans don’t believe Obama’s latest jobs plan will reduce unemployment, and 62 percent don’t approve of how he has handled the economy.

Those voters may well look to Republicans in next year’s election. But if they do, they won’t annoint them as a permanent ruling party, only temporary caretakers of American’s centrist politics.


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