Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 22, 2003
POLITICS: California and New York
There are few hardier perennials in the world of conservative journals of opinion than the article assuring us that, really, this time, Republicans are gonna start winning in California. It's right up there with "any day now, African-American voters are gonna wake up and realize that the Democrats take them for granted!" (The Wall Street Journal's John Fund is a master at both of these genres). Hugh Hewitt had a recent species of this in the Weekly Standard: Barbara Boxer's a loony leftist! Bush is gonna win the state! Hey, Cubs fans find a way to have hope each spring, so I guess California Republicans can too. Me, I'll believe it when I see it.
Here in heavily Democractic New York, though, I think Bush really can make inroads in 2004. My reasoning is simple:
1. Upstate New York has traditionally been good territory for the GOP, and Republicans have also proven competitive in the suburbs and on Long Island. In short, if Bush can neutralize Democrats' huge advantages in the City (in 2000, he lost Manhattan by more than a million votes), he's definitely in the game.
2. Voters in New York City have proven their willingness to vote for Republicans -- albeit more liberal ones than Bush -- when they feel their physical safety is at stake. Hence, we've had Republican mayors for the past decade.
3. Nobody cares more about progress in the War on Terror than New Yorkers. We're the City With The Big Bullseye, and everybody knows it. We were the opening battleground of this war. If Bush can convince people that he has made real progress on ths front by the fall of 2004 -- no major domestic terror strikes, Saddam gone, perhaps a new regime in Iran, maybe Osama's head on a spike -- he can be very competitive in the City, and maybe win the state.
It will all turn on the war -- but then, if the war is seen as going badly, Bush will be packing his bags in 2004 rather than counting electoral votes anyway.