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Thursday, June 3, 2010


At Politico, Jonathan Martin reports:

When Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Parker Griffith decided to switch parties, they were welcomed with open arms by their new political families in Washington.

But when each returned home to face the voters of his new party, the door was slammed in his face.

That both were so soundly rejected before they even got to the general election — Griffith's defeat in Alabama on Tuesday wasn't even close — illustrates the growing disconnect in both parties between the national political establishment and the grass-roots activists who typically decide primary elections, and between the conventional goals of the national parties and the loftier aims of the rank and file.

In an era of decentralized power, well-informed voters and heightened polarization, primary voters seem intent on making up their own minds and creating a party in their own image, thank you very much. And they're willing to risk a majority to do it.

Read more:

The contrast with 1994 is evident. After the GOP takeover of Congress, several Democratic House members and a couple of senators (Shelby of Alabama and Campbell of Colorado) switched sides, bolstering the new majority's strength. There had been speculation that if the Republicans fell just short of a majority in 2010, some moderate and conservative Democrats might cross the aisle to put them over the top. But now they might balk at doing so, for fear of losing their seats in 2012.