Monday, February 15, 2010

Bye Bayh Bye

Today’s announcement of the retirement of Evan Bayh was a shocker. Although we told you a couple weeks ago that his seat wasn’t as safe as it first appeared, no one expected him to quit. This decision has sent shock waves through the Democratic Party and may signal the death of the Democratic Party.

Bayh’s Decision
Bayh won his senate seat in 1998 after serving as the governor of Indiana. He comes from an Indiana family dynasty, with his father serving three terms in the Senate from 1963 until 1981. He was considered a moderate and fairly popular in the state.

However, he also was never close to the senate leadership and he was not considered a team player. He made a failed run for the presidency in 2008 and has been passed over three times as a Vice Presidential nominee.

Until today, it was assumed by all that he would remain in the Senate for many years to come, where he had become an outspoken voice for moving the Democratic Party back from the brink of insanity and toward the center. Indeed, prior to this announcement, he had raised nearly $13 million for his re-election campaign and had already ordered television ads.

But trouble was looming. If you believe Bayh and the Democrats, polling shows Bayh with a significant lead over his opponents. Yet, if you will recall, we pointed out a couple weeks ago that Bayh was finding himself in a surprisingly close race. According to Rasmussen, Bayh would have lost to Congressman Mike Pence if he chose to run, and was only leading likely challenger former-Congressman John Hostettler by a 44% to 41% margin. As we noted, any incumbent with less than 50% support must be considered endangered.

Then, about a week ago, retired Senator Dan Coats decided that he would run against Bayh (unlike Rudy Giuliani who won’t run in New York. . . jerk). Despite the Democrats blasting Coats in a series of nasty advertisements, the writing was on the wall so Bayh suddenly discovered that he doesn’t like politics.
“My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is, a very difficult, deeply personal one. I am an executive at heart. I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology. . . . To put it in words I think most people can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress.”
Now it’s been revealed that Bayh’s wife has made millions of dollars over the past couple years sitting on the boards of health care companies and evil insurance companies.
The Indiana Race
Unlike the retirement of Christopher Dodd, Bayh’s retirement will benefit the Republicans. Dodd, an unlikable man plagued by corruption scandals, had no chance of winning re-election. Connecticut, where he held his seat, was a far-left leaning state that would rather elect Hitler than a Republican. But Dodd, apparently, was worse than Hitler, so the people of Connecticut were preparing to toss him out. When he announced that he would step aside, the Connecticut Democratic Party simply inserted a generic Democrat in his place and suddenly their 20% loss in the polls turned into a 20% lead. Indiana is different.

First, Indiana is a rather conservative state. Bayh only managed to remain competitive in the state because he was a moderate Democrat with a strong family name and two popular stints as governor. With Bayh leaving the race, Indiana will have a tendency to shift to the right, not the left.

Moreover, the Democrats have no one of Bayh’s stature to replace Bayh. The likely replacement for Bayh will be either House Democrat Baron Hill or Brad Ellsworth. Both are considered moderates, though neither is in the popularity league of Bayh. Moreover, if Bayh’s surrender was motivated by an electorate that has turned against the Democrats, as it appears, then it won’t matter which Democrat they run.

Yet, by running either Hill or Ellsworth (Ellsworth is the establishment favorite), the Democrats also put their House seats at risk. Thus, look for the Republicans to have a distinct advantage now in the race for Bayh’s seat and look for them to pick up another House seat as a result of Bayh’s decision.
The Democratic Party Dies
Finally, we come to the real impact of this decision, which goes way beyond a single senate seat. Yes, from a technical perspective, this will improve the Republicans’ chances of retaking the senate, though mathematically that remains unlikely. But this decision has ripples far beyond simple senate math.

Bayh is one of the few moderates left in the Democratic Party. Most of these moderates are quitting during this election cycle. So far, this could be explained for one reason or another -- like the health care vote or scandal. But Bayh is the first who seemed to skate through the Democrats’ agenda without too much harm. That he is quitting foretells a potentially massive shift to the right by the electorate in 2010, where only Democrats in the most left-wing of districts and states will be safe. We will have to watch for more signs of this.

Interestingly, even Obama himself apparently tried to talk Bayh out of quitting, but Bayh refused.

And that takes us to the more important issue. The frustration shown by moderates like Bayh, who reached the point that he would willing give up his career, tells us just how poisonous the inner workings of the Democratic Party have become. Bayh’s retirement shows us that moderates no longer have a home in the Democratic Party.

The media loves to focus on in-fighting within the Republican Party but turns a blind eye to the absolute war going on in Democratic ranks. It’s a blood bath. With a leadership dominated by far-left whackos (not just ideologues, but crazy ideologues), with Rahm Emanuel’s “f*cking retard” activists promising to run ads against moderate Democrats, with the unions threatening to withhold their support unless they immediately get some union-a-topia, with Pelosi treating her moderates like cannon fodder, and with the party’s spokespeople slandering the American people on a daily basis, it’s become clear that the Democratic Party has drifted into a fantasy land of hatred and score-settling.

With the moderates abandoning the party rather than fighting for its soul, there is a serious chance that the Democrats will simply continue to wallow on the left no matter what happens. This means the Democratic Party will no longer be capable of obtaining anything near majority support, and it is likely to lose more and more seats in the coming elections until it is a rump party at best. Moreover, with the moderates leaving the party, there will be no one to pull them back from the brink for at least a generation.

That’s why Bayh’s announcement means so much more than one senate seat.

P.S. I apologize for any pain the NSYNC reference may have caused you.


Joel Farnham said...


It just could be that Harry Reid and Pelosi are OUR best weapons.

Their arrogance and BS have pushed the Democrat Party into untenable positions.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think you're absolutely right. If they had played this last election right, by staying mostly moderate and only slowly adding the hard-left stuff, they could have gotten most of what they wanted and the public wouldn't have freaked out.

But instead, these two far-left lunatics tried to ram everything through in one big shot, and it blew up in their faces. Now they want to go full speed ahead because they've convinced themselves that they need to do that to prove to the people that they were right! No way.

More than anyone else in the country, they have ruined the reputation of the left for another generation and helped bring the Republicans back in touch with the people.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I like phrases like "signal the death of the Democratic Party." :-D

Informative article! I didn't realize Bayh's retirement would mean this much. Also, speaking of his moderation, he had the perfect opportunity to demonstrate it during the ObamaCare debacle. And he let us all down. So much for the last moderate.

We constantly hear predictions of the Republican party splitting. Any chance a new more moderate party on the Democrat side would emerge to counter all this radical leftism?

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, Politics is a remarkably fluid game, so it's always hard to predict someone's demise. But recent history has shown that when one side screws up badly enough, it can get tossed to the curb for 10-15 years before it makes a comeback -- barring a major mistake by the other party.

The only thing that saved the Republicans after the recent debacle was the vast over-reach by the Democratics. If they had come in as Bill Clinton moderates, they would be looking at being the majority party for a very long time. . . but they couldn't help themselves -- they came in determined to remake America overnight.

In terms of a third party forming, it's possible, but American history is against it. There are just too many obstacles, plus the moderates tend to drift between the parties rather than form their own. Thus, it's more likely that these people will simply move to the Republican Party as they did during the Reagan years.

Joel Farnham said...


I am still not satisfied though. I still remember how the Republican Party and George Bush pushed us into losing the last two elections. I am wondering which Republican will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

patti said...

that we are even having the surreal discussion of a possible republican senate majority is mindboggling, given the political climate a few months ago. up is down, left is right (ha!) and one day i will tell my grandchildren of this mythical time when all hope seem lost, until regular joe americans tied on their capes and kicked ass at home.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I understand and share your frustration. The problem right now, as I see it, is that the Democrats are losing this election more than the Republicans are winning it. I would have liked to have seen a small, simple and strongly conservative platform -- maybe 10 points total, so that they have an agenda to tell people who they are. I think this would also help us understand what they think the word "conservative" means, because I'm not sure they mean the same thing we do when they use that term. Big government spending for "conservative ideas" is not conservative, and I'm not sure they get that yet.

I'd also like to see them see them make a clean break from the lobbyists and the moneyed interests. It's time to toss the corporate interests and pay attention to the people's interests. Listening to corporate lobbyists makes them sloppy, stupid and corrupt.

I think they are taking many steps in these directions, but I'm not sure yet that they aren't going to slide right back to where they were once the election passes.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, It's truly been a strange year, hasn't it? I think we got lucky. . . lucky that the Democrats over-reached, but also lucky that they weren't able to pull off their agenda. America dodged a bullet!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: It's been a wonderful three or four weeks. I do want to say, though, that I've lived through many elections and political tides (more than most, I'm afraid), and the simple fact is that I've heard the declaration of the death of the Republican Party or the death of the Democratic Party more times than I can count. And like the announcement of Mark Twain's demise, "the reports of their death have been grossly exaggerated." The Democratic patient is very sick, but will most likely recover, and assuming he's dead and buried is a dangerous thing to do.

Major politicians within the Tea Party movement are beginning to declare that they want to influence politics, but do not realistically have any intention of forming a third-party.

I foresee a major Republican resurgence, but I'm not planning on standing there with a shovel-full of dirt to throw into an empty grave.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm not sure anyone is declaring the Democratic Party dead, as that wouldn't be consistent with history or the structure of American politics.

Writer X said...

This one made me smile today. Great post, Andrew!

But I can't help but wonder if there's more to his announcent. You don't raise $13MM and then call it quits. "I'm more of an executive"? Say what? Doesn't make much sense. Hopefully the people of Indiana will have better choices. I'm always leary of family political dynasties. That just breeds corruption.

Anonymous said...

I live in Indiana and I can't tell you happy this makes me. Mike Pence would have been great but I get why he won't run. I don't like Coats though. He lives in Virginia and he's become a lobbyist.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, You're welcome! It does feel pretty good doesn't it?

I think there are a series of things going on.

First, I suspect that he's upset that no one in his party is listening to him. I also suspect that it's very tempting to keep the $13 million rather than spend it on a losing cause -- especially since he could always choose to come back after the tidal wave has passed, and then he wouldn't face the stigma of having lost. He could rightly claim that he decided to retire, but just couldn't stay away.

I also suspect that he may also be concerned that whatever his wife has been up to is going to blow up on him. Odds are that her companies would have benefited from whatever amendments he offered.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, I've heard similar things and that troubles me. I don't know enough about Coats to say whether or not he's a good guy, but I know that he does live and vote in Virginia now, and he does apparently work for some lobbying firms. That's the kind of background the Republicans need to start rejecting. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

I don't the party should run guys like that either. I kind of hope that Coats doesn't run now that Bayh isn't running. Nice article.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, We don't endorse in Republican primaries, but I too am not thrilled about politicians who have become lobbyists. I have rarely seen on who has maintained their intellectual independence after that.

LL said...

Bayh didn't stay because a man of Barack Hussein Obama's stature, asked him to?


AndrewPrice said...

LL, I know. . . what's the world coming to? When a man as persuasive as B.O. asks you to stay, you stay. There must have been some sort of miscommunication! LOL!

USArtguy said...

Andrew, as a lifelong Hoosier I must commend you (yet again) on your analysis. It is spot on.

Indiana has been traditionally a conservative state and I was as surprised as anybody when we went "blue" this last election cycle. There are a few things people need to remember about our fair state: we are both a midwestern rural state (rugged individualism, religious, family values oriented) and a northern rustbelt state (blue collar union, small "l" liberal, bigger government). In Civil War terms we are a border state (with the south) where many Christian southern conservative Democrats have relocated to or have family. At the opposite end of the state, we share a border with Chicagoland to the left (appropriately enough) and the Peoples Republic of Michigan to our north. I guess you could say we are a mutt.

While we usually lean conservative, there are a lot of union plants here that supply Detroit. The decline of the Big Three automakers along with the devastation of the RV industry (Elkhart, IN is the RV Capital) caused the rank and file Democrats to come out in larger numbers thinking a Dem president was their "savior" to coin a term. Many are coming to realize they were wrong to put their "hope" in Obama. I think that's the chief reason Indiana went for him.

Bayh really has been mostly moderate voting against Obama more than any other Democrat in the senate. says 'Bayh voted against Obama’s position on 23 percent of the 79 Senate votes where the president’s position was clear, according to Congressional Quarterly..." Bayh was one of three Democrats who opposed a package of spending bills passed in December. He has voted with his party only 71% of the time. Plus he makes a big deal about his family and that goes over well with voters... especially in this age of mistresses in Venezuela, love childs, etc. however I think he came across as something of a suck up when he endorsed Hillary, then dumped support when he found he was on the short list of Obama's Veep ppicks.

Republicans: Coats was an a three term congressman and (I think) an excellent senator the (1989-1999) being a vocal critic of Bill Clinton. He finished his political career as an Ambassador to Germany. He did become a lobbyist later in life and 10 years out is a long time, but I feel that most people's core values don't substantially change once they've had them 50 years. Obviously has experience winning elections.

Hostettler: intelligent, likable, very conservative, pro-life, pro-family. The "maverick" McCain never was.... he didn't "reach across the aisle" to get along with the left but wasn't always in lock step with Republicans either. Voted against the Iraq War. Another example is term limits: he was against it saying the voters can kick any politician out of office every election if they want.

Ellsworth: Tall, good looking young-ish Democrat and former sheriff of Vanderburgh county (3rd largest population in the state). Congressman since 2006, defeated Hostetler's attempt for fourth term. Always claims to be bipartisan and yet never votes against the Democrats.

Baron Hill I know zip about.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Thanks! And thanks for the additional information. I was hoping you'd fill us in.

As I mentioned above, I am always suspicious of guys who leave politics to become lobbyists because they do tend to take on the thinking of their clients, but I don't know much about Coats. I just hope the Republicans pick the best guy.

I'm thrilled that Indiana is likely to return to the "R" column. With the coasts being so strongly in the "D" column, we need to get as much of the interior of the country as we can.

By the way, I've driven through Indiana many times and I've spent some time in downtown Indianapolis (depositions). And one thing that always makes me laugh are these signs for RV dealer "Tom Raper." What an unfortunate name!

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, tomorrow, I'll provide an update regarding the D'Ippolito situation -- which is hilarious!

StanH said...

“If” the Republicans play their cards right, there is indeed a real opportunity to relegate the democrat party to backbenchers for a generation. The left is fully exposed a place the left never likes to be, and we are paying close attention. Good read!

USArtguy said...

Andrew, (or other Commentaramatarians) if you ever have reason to find yourself in the SW tip of Indiana (Evansville area) let me know and I'll show you some "Hoosier Hospitality".

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, It is an exciting time -- especially after the unhappy last couple of years!

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Thanks, I'll let you know if I pass that way again! It would definitely be interesting to meet some other Commentaramatarians!

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