In 2004, Busby lost the CA-50 by 22.0%. Today, it looks like she will lose by around 4.5%. And that was with the NRCC spending $4.5M on the race. If Republicans want to spin losing 18 points after spending $4.5M of committee money as a good thing, go for it. After all, spin is basically why they spent so much money on this race. By blowing their wad in a solidly Republican district, they wanted to change the media narrative on the election in their favor. It will probably work, given how subservient and generally inaccurate the media tends to be when it comes to Republicans and elections. In reality, for a Republican candidate to pull 49.5% of the vote in a district with 44.5% Republican registration is shocking. Given those numbers, Bilbray probably managed all of 20% of the vote among independents.
No matter what the media says, no Democrat should be mistaken about this result. First, this is a huge, seismic shift in our favor that bodes extremely well for November. If we receive an 18% shift nationwide, we will win the House easily. If Republican candidates are pulling only 20% of the independent vote, the Indycrat realignment is still on.
Despite the happy talk and despite the fact that this race was considered a long shot I can't help but feel a strong sense of disturbance in the force. This does not bode well for Democrats.
Look, the media narrative is everything. If they say that the Republicans retention of this seat means the Democrats really aren't on the edge of a tidal change but it's business as usual then that's how the story will play out from here November despite the reality of polls, motivated voters in the Democratic base, etc. Howard Dean and the DNC should have recognized this and met the Republican spending in kind. It was a huge strategic misstep, IMHO, that they didn't.
On the last election night I invited a progressive friend who was only marginally involved in politics to the Democratic party election night gathering at the convention center so that we could celebrate the defeat of the President we hold in such disdain among people who shared our belief that America could do better.
I can still vividly recall the wild cheering that drowned out Senator Wyden's victory speech because the silent giant screens behind him showed some political pundit or other hypothetically flipping states for Kerry to show what a long shot it would be for him to win. Most of the crowd seemed to believe these results were real, rather than the efforts of some blow-dried airhead going out of his way to demonstrate how he firmly grasped the math of the electoral college that the rest of the country had mastered by the time they were twelve. The realization that he was simply playing with the toys on his cool election night set and that Kerry HAD lost was one of the saddest moments I've ever had to sit through.
Point is when I look at the political situation right now and consider whether I want to be at an election night party come November I just can't see myself there. I just don't have the strength to sit with a group of a thousand other realists and watch a small minority of Americans that also happens to be a majority of voters take America down the path to candyland one more time. I love this country to much to watch them smother her slowly to death with a pillow.