Paul Hackett's performance in the Ohio special election is a huge defeat for the Republicans -- even by the arbitrarily low standards set by political pundits. As Daily Kos pointed out yesterday, Beltway guru Charlie Cook was being a little kind to Jean Schmidt when he rated the possible outcomes of the race in these terms:
If Schmidt's victory margin is in double digits, this tells us that there is not much of an anti-GOP wind in Ohio right now. If the margin is say six to nine points for Schmidt, then there is a wind, but certainly no hurricane. A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong, while a Hackett victory would be a devastating blow to the Ohio GOP.And this in a district where the GOP has traditionally won by more than 50 percentage points. Not that it matters since the Republicans just got their "very serious warning sign" -- a paltry three-percent margin. In a race marked by a huge turnout, that's pretty much a tornado-sized warning. [LINK]
The Democrats could do well to take heed as well of Hackett's performance. He managed to put together a hugely successful seven-week campaign based on an unapologetically anti-Bush stance, remaining defiant even in his concession speech: "Chickens are a very interesting bird, not to be confused with birds of prey."