Back in September--before the Mark Foley scandal and coverup exploded, before Rich Lowry of the National Review coined the word "precriminations" (conservatives' pre-election accusations of why they'll do poorly November 7)--GOP polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates knew Republicans were in trouble: they discovered last month that the more people knew of the party's ideas and initiatives, the less they liked it. (In July, the firm's namesake, Tony Fabrizio, likened Republicans going back to their districts to trumpet successes of an abysmal session as "trying to turn chicken droppings into chicken salad.") Just weeks before the election, things look even worse for them: Democrats' enthusiasm keeps going up, and a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows Americans haven't been this unhappy with Congress--which the GOP now controls--since 1992.
Considering these trends--not to mention the GOP-led handling of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and scores of scandals that go by names like Ney, Abramoff, Cunningham and Delay--it's no wonder few Republicans seem to want to admit they're Republicans.
While far from definitive, an informal sample of political yard signs suggests that the trend of "stealth Republicans" online--GOP candidates who downplay or eliminate mention of the party on their websites--is mirrored on the ground as well: while nearly every Democratic sign in a survey of Minneapolis-area signs mentioned the party's endorsement (other than the highest profile candidates, Mike Hatch and Amy Klobuchar), none of the Republicans' did. And it seems to apply for metro-area races on every level: school board, county offices, state legislature (including State Senate District 58, pitting Democratic incumbent Linda Higgins against Republican Jim Lilly; above), and some national races.
Are Republicans hoping voters will forget their party loyalties? Are they deliberately trying to mislead voters? Is this a phenomenon only in Demomcratic-leaning Minneapolis, or is it a state- or nation-wide trend? Help me find out. Email me images of signs from your district (400 x 300 pixel digital photo, shot close up).
Note: I'm excluding offices, like Secretary of State and the State Auditor, that should be administered in a nonpartisan way and therefore shouldn't mention party endorsements; also not included are third parties, whose candidates almost universally use their party affiliation to differentiate themselves from Democrats and Republicans. (For non-Minnesotans: our Democratic party is called the DFL, Democrat-Farmer-Labor.)
Now, Democrats on the left, Republicans on the right: