The loss of a few seats on the other side of the Mississippi River during the 2006 election cycle wasn't much of a trend in itself; it was simply the Western part of an electoral thumpin'. Republicans lost 30 seats. By my count, we lost nine in the Midwest, four in the South, 12 in the Northeast and six in the West. And even those six deserve something of an asterisk: One of them was in California, which is basically its own world rather than a part of a broader region in the traditional sense. Two of them were in Texas, which could just as easily be classified as part of the South rather than the West (and one of those was in Texas' 22nd, where the Republicans had no nominee and instead ran a write-in campaign).
So what you really have is five Western seats lost, including one that will in all likelihood be retaken by the GOP next time around. In the Senate, the only Democrat pickup was in Montana, where Republican incumbent Conrad Burns narrowly lost despite the awful national year for Republicans and Burns' trouble involving allegations of ethics violations.
This is hardly a trend. Does anyone really believe that, for instance, in the last two years the people of Montana decided that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi better represent their interests than George W. Bush or Denny Hastert? That the voters of Texas' 22nd District turned pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-tax-and-spend and anti-war overnight? To ask the question is to answer it.
But that doesn't mean the 2006 elections were not important. What they showed is that in politics, clarity, organization and unity win elections, while confusion, disorganization and disunity lose them. These are hardly groundbreaking observations, but they are much more relevant to the 2006 elections -- and, more importantly, the 2008 elections -- than are any yarns about Republicans losing ground on their traditional turf. Voters last November did not reject conservatism, they rejected Republicans. There is an enormous difference.
Tom DeLay is the former House Majority Leader, the second ranking leader in the United States House of Representatives, and co-author of No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight.
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