Was Tuesday a 'failure' for Republicans?

The GOP is supposed to win big in November. Does its loss in a conservative Pennsylvania district change that story line?

Democrat Mark Critz.
(Image credit: Markcritz.com)

The conventional wisdom holds that Democrats are in for a drubbing in November, but Democrat Mark Critz's win in a special West Pennsylvania House election Tuesday offers them a glimmer of hope. Critz easily beat Republican Tim Burns in a district that had elected Critz's old boss, the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D), to 18 terms but voted for Republican John McCain in 2008. Does the GOP's "special failure" to pick up an open "anti-abortion, gun-loving" House district dim its hopes of taking over Congress this fall?

So much for the GOP landslide: This is supposed to be a "monster Republican" year, say Jonathan Martin and Charles Mahtesian in Politico. But Democrats can breathe a little easier after the GOP "failed spectacularly" to win a race that "couldn't have been more primed for a Republican victory." Worse for the GOP, this is the third "highly contested, fair-fight" special House election it's lost in a year.

"The GOP's special failure"

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Don't read too much into one race: Burns' loss, in a purple district, "was a disappointment, but not too much of a surprise," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. Republicans will still win big in November if they recognize that the "national mood" will only get us so far, and focus resources on toppling incumbent Democrats in redder districts.

"The muddled message from yesterday’s elections"

Democrats certainly shouldn't get cocky: Tellingly, Critz won as a pro-gun, pro-life opponent of health care reform, says John Dickerson in Slate, and by "distancing himself" from President Obama. Still, in what promises to be a "tough year" for Democrats, Critz's comfortable victory in a "Republican-leaning district" is "a story they can whisper to themselves quietly at night to make the demons go away."

"Three ways of looking at an election"

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