Boarding up the windows

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No hurricanes for North Carolina so far this year.

But we know one storm that is coming to our state this fall. In fact we know the exact dateNovember 2.

The early political hurricane-watch reporters are predicting it could be a Category 5 storm, blowing away everything in its path.

Political experts are comparing the upcoming storm to the one in 1994. Republicans swept to victories in races across the state and took control of the state house of representatives for the first time in the modern era. They came within a seat or two of taking over the state senate. And strong North Carolina congressmen like David Price lost their seats.

The 1994 storm was part of the Contract with America-New Gingrich national political upheaval. Like this years approaching hurricane, the one in 1994 was fueled by widespread negative reactions to the first two years of a Democratic president working with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

North Carolina Republican leaders are drooling at the prospect of taking charge of both houses of the legislature and overseeing the post census redistricting of every congressional and state legislative seat.

Some North Carolina Democrats are walking around in a daze, shell-shocked at the turn in public opinion from the time of the great Democratic victories of two years ago.

But some other Democrats are not so down in the dumps. They say it is not all that bad. They concede that Democrats might lose some legislative seats at the state and federal levels, as often happens to the party of a president at the end of his first two years in office. They contend that Democrats have several things going for them that will make the hurricane of 2010 a lot less destructive for them than the one that hit them in 1994.

Here are some of their points:

*Democrats are better prepared today than in 1994, when the strength of the political storm took many of them by surprise. Unlike 1994, they know they will have a strong Republican wind blowing, and they are better prepared to tack against it.

*The anti-incumbent (Tea Party) winds that will help Republicans across the country will not be blowing so strong in North Carolina. Here is why: The top of the Republican ticket will be incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Burr. Burr may be leading in his race, but he is not contributing to the kind of fervor that Republican senate candidates in other states have inspired.

*For many North Carolinians, politics is still local and personal. Across the state, many voters still know their own legislators. And, usually, they like her or him. Many of they can survive if they work to get their admirers to the polls.

*Although the momentum this year may be with the Republicans, the experience and organizational capacity that Democrats gained in 2008 will be an asset for them this year. Nobody is arguing that these assets will be as strong this year, but they will still make a positive difference.

*Finally, there is still time. Democrats think their representatives have done a pretty good job managing a challenging state financial crisis. They believe these next few weeks give them a good chance to make a persuasive case to middle-of-the-road North Carolina voters that their approach is better for North Carolina than any alternatives their opponents have presented.

*Maybe there is a hurricane coming, Democrats concede, but, if it does, they say, theyve got the windows boarded up and the emergency crews on alert, and it will take more than a Category 5 to blow them away.

What do you think? Can Democrats stand down the hurricane?

Hold on to your hats!