This may be a national story, but it has serious local implications. From the Hotline blog:
RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, generally one of the party’s premiere strategic optimists, warned GOP state chairs that the party would lose seats at every level of government.
Not “if” they didn’t do X,Y, or GOTV. But “would lose,” period. The task for state chairs: use lessons learned from ‘04 to flush out the Republican base as much as possible.
The corollary: the more Republicans confront Pres. Bush, the more they localize national sentiment, which in turn could provoke a higher turnout among independents, which in turn could cost the party even more House, Senate and GOV seats.
What Mehlman and WH pol dir Sara Taylor didn’t say — but what all state chairs know — is that the politics of nastiness generally turns off persuadable voters. So expect the marginal races this year to be quite nasty.
The upshot: the more the national landscape is framed as 435 local elections, the better it looks for Republicans. The GOP will stay on track by focusing on good defense by leveraging their state-by-state fundamentals, which Mehlman, Taylor and many state chairs asserted were strong.