Restraint, Resources, and Republicans

Posted: May 19, 2010 11:27 AM
I'd reiterate some points from our Heritage guest post belowRand Paul's victory is certainly a boon for the tea party, and Specter's ousting represents a strong anti-incumbency trend to look for in November. Pennsylvanians in the 12th district pulled for Critz because they've pulled for a Democrat in every Congressional election since 1974, and because Critz wasn't so far to the left to be considered unpalatable to their center-right views.

But I'll also note this opening salvo from Politico, which sees the Critz seat as more important than any Rand Paul victory or Arlen Specter butt-kicking. They emphasize that Critz lost by a massive eight points.
All the evidence pointing to monster Republican House gains this fall—the Scott Brown upset win in Massachusetts, the scary polling numbers in once-safely Democratic districts, the ever-rising number of Democratic seats thought to be in jeopardy—was contradicted Tuesday.

In the only House race that really mattered to both parties—the special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th District—Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition.
Perhaps we "should" have run roughshod over the opposition, and perhaps it does portend terrible things for November. But perhaps it doesn't. I still think the right assessment of this race is simply one where you recognize the limitations of staring into the crystal ball. Generalizations can be useful, but attaching meaning to specific electoral event — even to such races as Scott Brown's and Chris Christie's — might be jumping the gun. We have the potential to prevail in those environments, but we shouldn't take it for granted. The tea party is potent, but so are party politics.

Here's advocating some restraint, at least when it comes to punditry. But perhaps we can learn some lessons when it comes to our resources, as Ed Morrissey points out:
For Republicans, the lesson is that they should not throw tons of resources at open seats in heavily Democratic districts this fall, but focus more on Democratic incumbents and open districts with narrower Democratic registration advantages.