Now it is Republicans turn to learn this lesson.
I think that Mark Tapscott gets the big lesson right in this post:
the essential framing of the GOP congressional campaign would be left to Rove. Rove's strategy was built on the tried-and-true GOP Establishment axiom that "conservatives have no place to go," and therefore the biggest challenge was getting them to turnout on election day in sufficient numbers to overcome the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media.The rewards for loyalty:
It was essential for the Rove strategy to create the appearance of sufficient progress on key issues in order to "get the GOP base stirred up." But the "progress" was little more than smoke and mirrors and everybody in Washington knew it, as did millions of conservative voters who had heard the same broken record over and over again in the past.
The House GOP has been remarkably loyal to GWB. Contrast that with the way the House Republicans treated Bush '41 over the tax increases in 1990. I wonder if this passivity has anything to do with the loss of Tom Delay?
UPDATE: Irish Pennants note that Iraq was not the over-riding issue:
Though I think Iraq was the dominant issue -- a big dog in itself which colored voter perceptions of every other thing -- the exit polls indicated that more voters (42 percent as opposed to 40 percent) said they were most concerned about corruption. This is a wound the Republicans in Congress inflicted upon themselves.On corruption, he blames Delay first and foremost.
I disagree. For one thing, some of the worst corruption took place in the states (especially Ohio and Illinois.) Oddly enough, the GOP has been wrecked in those two states by "moderate" "pragmatists" who were also morally deficient. (When your prime focus is to compromise and get along with everyone, you end up going along with the wrong kind of people.)
Second, the GOP refused to fight back against the "culture of corruption" charges with their most effective weapons. They hoped the issue would go away instead of bringing up Alcee Hastings and William Jefferson.
One last note. I was on the receiving end of the GOP GOTV efforts. I must have received ten calls in the 72 hours before the elections as well as half a dozen emails. But while i was inundated with admonitions to vote, I never heard a compelling "reason why". Maybe they figured that i was part of the base and that the big matter was to get me to the polls. OTOH, they forfeited the chance to really energize the base and use them as secondary transmitters of their message.