Scholars and Newsmakers Debate 2010 Elections

Posted in: G-Town News- Nov 09, 2010 No Comments

Kevin Madden, press secretary for Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, told about 200 students at Georgetown Nov. 8 that the tea party is “not monolithic – it is a reform element within a center-right electorate.”

Madden and Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) professors E.J. Dionne and Paul Begala served as panelists for the GPPI-sponsored Election Reflection 2010: Recapping the Midterms Elections.

Judy Feder, a GPPI professor and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, moderated the lively debate.

Tea Party Paradox

The panelists disagreed about the impact of the tea party movement on the election.

Dionne, well-known Washington Post columnist, disagreed with Madden, and said a “tea party paradox” made it clear that it is a far right movement. The paradox, he said, is that tea party candidates helped the Republicans in the primary but mostly failed in the midterm general elections.

Begala, now a CNN special contributor, cautioned the audience about what the election signified.

“I’d be careful about overreaching the ideological meaning of this election,” said Begala, who served as White House counselor in the Clinton administration. “It’s really hard to get around the worst recession in anyone’s lifetime.”

Losing in Droves

Madden credited the Republicans’ message on the economy with helping win over independent voters who supported Obama in 2008.

“I would argue the foundation for success in 2008 was the middle of the electorate, and they [the Democrats] lost them in droves,” he said.

Dionne argued that Democratic incumbents were forced to defend their votes on legislation such as health care with little support on the campaign trail.

“There was no cover from the national party, no consistent defense,” Dionne said. “They did a lot of things but didn’t manage to build it in to a complete whole.”

The panelists said they were excited by the possibilities 2012 may bring.

“As an analyst, I cannot wait for the presidential nomination [from the Republicans],” Begala said.

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