Thursday, June 19, 2008

And another one bites the dust.

Dauphin County - solidly Republican since the Civil War - is now a majority Democratic County as registered Democrats edged ahead of registered Republicans by a 92 voter margin: 81,432 Democrats vs. 81,340 Republicans.

It is the end of an era on several fronts. It is the end of more than a century of GOP dominance in the county which hosts the state capital of Harrisburg. It also is the end of the solidly Republican "T" which has formed the bedrock of statewide victories for Republican candidates. This development, along with the demise of the Republican machine in the southeastern counties surrounding Philadelphia, places Democrats in a commanding position statewide.

When something changes after such a long period of time the first question that comes to mind is: why?

The answer to that question can be found in the abandonment of core principles by Republicans at the national, state and county levels.

There is no doubt that the voter registration shift in Dauphin County is partly attributable to a nationwide disgust with the GOP now being expressed by its own voters (and former voters). The loss of three solidly Republican Congressional districts in special elections in recent months is evidence that the party's conservative base is no longer willing to vote for GOP candidates who do not reflect their ideals just because they are the lesser of two evils. In fact, in some cases, Democratic candidates are running to the right of Republican candidates on key issues such as guns and abortion.

Add in the Bush Administration's inability to articulate a message and/or effective explain its policies and the national mood is toxic for Republicans.

At the state level it is hard to separate the Democrats from the Republicans. Just two weeks ago Republican Congressman Todd Platts (York) and Democratic Congressman Tim Holden (Schuylkill) both argued in favor of the corrupt and discredited earmarking process in a major article published in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Platts is an outright liberal, and Holden has embraced some conservative positions to the point where Holden looks more like a Republican than Platts.

Is it any wonder voters are confused? Read More