I have only become more convinced that what has changed the dynamics of this election has been a fundamental reevaluation not merely – or even primarily – of the two candidates, but of the two parties. This election is becoming nationalized, and it is becoming nationalized in the context of an across-the-board swing in the direction of the Democrats.Bob Dole's entire campaign in 1996 consisted of "I'm not Bill Clinton." We all remember how well that worked out. Now in 2012 the Republican and Romney campaign consists of little more than were not Democrats or Obama. And when they do give specifics they sound very much like a return to the policies of George W. Bush. The Senate Races are perhaps the most striking. Noah again:
The reason, I think, is a simple one. The Republicans Party – not just the Romney campaign, but the party as a whole – is running on nothing. They are running on the presumption that the country has already rejected the Democrats, and that therefore it is their turn. They are behaving as if choosing Democratic governance was some kind of “experiment” that didn’t work out, and now the American people will, of course, come back to their natural home.
By contrast, the Democrats actually made a case for their party. They explained what their party has done, and why they should be able to set the national agenda. They defended their foreign policy, their economic policy, and their social policy in strong, unapologetic terms.
More strikingly, a number of Senate races have shifted sharply in the Democrats’ direction, from Wisconsin to Massachusetts to Virginia. I picked these three races in particular, because they are races not races where “candidate quality” is a plausible cause of Republican troubles (as in, say, Missouri). Scott Brown is a highly popular Senator. Tommy Thompson is a highly popular former Governor. George Allen is, if not highly popular, nonetheless a former Senator. One of them is an incumbent; none of them are running against incumbents. If they lose their elections, it won’t be because they are personally unpopular, or because they just couldn’t overcome the popularity of their opponents, or because they are individually out of ideological step with their constituents. If they lose their elections, it will be because they have an “R” next to their names.I think after 2010 the Republicans forgot how damaged their brand was.