A Sunday Washington Post article titled “Was Nov. 2 a Realignment” contrasted Bush’s campaign manager Ken Mehlman’s upbeat interpretation of the election’s significance for the Republicans with Ruy Teixeira’s more balanced appraisal.
“Something fundamental and significant happened in this election that creates an opportunity for” the Republicans to remake national politics over the long term, said Ken Mehlman, who managed Bush’s reelection campaign and was tapped by the president after the election to be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. “The Republican Party is in a stronger position today than at any time since the Great Depression.”
Liberal political analyst Ruy Teixeira is among many analysts not buying it. Two years ago, he co-wrote a book predicting an emerging Democratic dominance of national politics. That certainly has not happened yet — but neither has the opposite, he believes. The electorate this year “tilted, but it didn’t tilt very much,” Teixeira said.
“If the war on terror is such a realigning issue, how come Bush only got 51 percent of the vote?” he asked. By Teixeira’s lights, the president took advantage of the natural power of incumbency, which is accentuated in wartime, and gave scant emphasis to his second-term policy agenda on such issues as overhauling Social Security, which polls show leaves many voters uneasy. “It’s hard to read [the results] in a serious way as a mandate for much of anything,” Teixeira said.