Here is my Creators Syndicate column for this week. It's based on my analysis of the special election last week in the 50th Congressional District of California. Democrats had hoped their single viable candidate, Francine Busby, would get 50 percent of the vote and thus, under California's special election rules, capture the seat of the disgraced Duke Cunningham. Instead, Busby got 44 percent of the votethe same percentage John Kerry won in the district. Other commentators have argued that this was a big gain for Democrats by comparing the percentage with the 30 percent of the district's voters who are registered Democrats.
But party registration is not a useful measure. In this traditionally Republican part of San Diego County, voters have little incentive to register Democratic, since Republicans win most partisan races. If you want to have a voice in choosing such officials, it makes more sense to register Republican and thus be able to vote in the Republican primary.
I had expected Busby to do better. Republicans had an advantage in turnout in 2002 and 2004, and there are lots of reasons to believe that Democrats will have an advantage this year. But their advantage in this race was microscopic at best. George W. Bush and the Republicans continue to take a beating in the old media. But Republican voters, it seems, still quietly and determinedly turn out and vote. We'll see whether that proves true in November.