Sisyphus has been living up to his namesake at 43rd State Blues. In dual post-election analyses he has advanced the theme that the blowout Idaho Democrats endured this election had at least as much to do with self-inflicted voter apathy as with a "Republican wave," as the media and Democratic Party officials have asserted.
In doing so, he contrasted the successful campaign of Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to the losing campaign of Idaho 1st District Congressman Walt Minnick in 2010 and he crunched the numbers, such as they are, in comparing the losing gubernatorial races of Independent Keith Allred running on the Democratic ticket in 2010 and Democrat Jerry Brady, the nominee in 2006. The candidates on the Democratic ticket in both 2010 races ran sharply away from the Democratic Party, shunning Democratic identity and disparaging Democratic ideals to the detriment of their campaigns and the Idaho Democratic Party, as Sisyphus and others have concluded.
Now, through Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press and Betsy Russell at Eye On Boise, we find links to more corroboration of this theme at the interstices blog. In analyzing the voting in Ada County legislative races, interstices concluded that Boise Democrats didn't show up at the polls and surmised:
What happened appears to best be described as a systemic failure on the part of the Democratic Party to put on a campaign at the top of the ticket that would help drive voter turnout at the lower races such as for State Legislature.
More fascinating is interstices' comparison of the Democratic voting patterns in presidential years with those in gubernatorial years, as shown in this snip of a chart accompanying the election analysis. "Despite favorable trends in Democratic votes the past six or eight years Allred was unable to hold to a common pattern of outperforming the Democratic Presidential nominee two years previous," writes interstices. "Only in 1998 did the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate not do as well as the Democratic Presidential candidate two years previous."
Indeed, this contradicts the attempt at revisionism employed by Walt Minnick a week before the election when he optimistically informed the New York Times that President Obama was a "drag on the ballot" in 2008.
Check out interstices for more election analysis and other interesting bits of info.
What lessons the Idaho Democratic Party takes away from this election remain to be seen, but it would be a grave, maybe fatal, mistake to conclude that they simply fell victim to a "Republican wave."