Reading through Chris Cilizza’s authoritative Washington Post estimation of the seats most likely to flip from one party to another in the House, it struck me that a large number of liberal Republicans were on the vulnerable list: Reps. Chris Shays (R-Ct.), Nancy Johnson (R-Ct.), Rob Simmons (R-Ct.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Deborah Pryce (R-Oh.), all of whom are members of the moderate Republican Main Street caucus. (The long serving Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), the most liberal Republican in the Senate, also trails his Democratic challenger in the polls.)
The decisive moment in recent American politics came in 1994, when voters in the South, after decades of growing more conservative, finally decided, you know what? We’re not going to put up with any of these conservative Democrats anymore. They may be ideologically on our side, but they’re for the wrong party. The South rejected conservative Democrats in favor of more conservative Republicans, and the House — and political cast of the country — flipped. That’s a bit simplified, of course, but I wonder if the Iraq war isn’t ushering in a similar, if smaller-scale realization for voters in the northeast, a coalescing moment when voters in that region decide they simply can’t put up with electing Republicans anymore, no matter how moderate their particular Republican representative is.