REMEMBER HOW REPUBLICANS ABANDONED ALL THEIR ISSUE POSITIONS AFTER CUCCINELLI LOST? ME EITHER.
So Democratic House candidate Alex Sink lost a Florida special election to Republican David Jolly on Tuesday by 2 points -- and the conventional wisdom seems to be that Obamacare is absolutely toxic and radioactive and a third rail for Democrats nationwide, and they need to run screaming from it as quickly as possible.
Funny, I don't seem to recall a similar response when Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost a close gubernatorial race last fall. I don't recall anyone arguing that Republicans need to rethink their near-universal opposition to abortion rights, or their relentless campaign to restrict those rights. In fact, I see that many states, including swing states such as Iowa and Missouri, are considering Cuccinelli-esque abortion restrictions this year. I also see that, in Washington, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a major anti-abortion bill back in January.
Was there even widespread agreement that Cuccinelli's positions on social issues lost him the race? Karl Rove said Cuccinelli's social-issue positions "weren't the problem" -- he merely had a history of expressing them a tad too forcefully, "with polarizing language and an acerbic tone that even allies found off-putting" (unlike the outgoing governor, Bob McDonnell, who was "equally conservative on social issues, but ... advocated them in a way that won respect and encouraged civil discussion"). Ben Domenech countered that Cuccinelli wasn't forceful enough on abortion during the campaign -- he "tried to tone down the things that actually worked for him in the past," something he shouldn't have done because it "cedes the conversation" on women's issues "to the media and the left." And The Weekly Standard's Francis Cannon argued that the real problem was "GOP elites," who kept saying that Cuccinelli was "too 'controversial,' 'divisive,' and “strident.'" All agree, however: Cuccinelli's actual stance on abortion and other social issues was just fine and dandy, and not a threat to Republicans nationwide.
Other observers credited Democrats' ability to turn out African-American voters, or pointed to the Democrats' superior fund-raising, in contrast to the inadequate support from the Republican establishment for Cuccinelli. Still others mentioned the scandals engulfing outgoing Republican governor Bob McDonnell, and the federal government shutdown, which took place a month before Election Day in Virginia. Oh, and some pointed out that Cuccinelli's defeat wasn't that bad because he lost by only a couple of points. Oh, and the Democrats were hurt by Obamacare!
What you didn't get on the right was a chorus of Republicans whining "OH MY GOD! OUR POSITIONS ARE REPULSIVE TO VOTERS! WE'RE DOOOOOMED!" That's what Democrats do. And maybe the self-blame, all by itself, is part of the reason Democrats can't win non-presidential elections.