It seems whenever Democrats win an election, the media rushes to insist that they did it by running to the middle and not being "traditional Democrats." Just this week, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon reminded us, "The candidates Democrats recruited in 2006 and 2008 are pro-life and pro-gun." (In fact, very few were pro-life.)
Some creative conservative media figures even insisted that Barack Obama won election in 2008 by running as a "Reaganite" and "fiscal conservative."
So I turned on my television a few hours ago, fully to hear cable news talkers saying that yes, Republicans won last night, but they did so by running to the center and downplaying traditional Republican positions. After all, just yesterday, Washington Post reporter Ben Pershing said during an online Q&A:
If there is a national lesson from today, it's that Republicans all over the country will be looking to replicate McDonnell's model -- play up jobs and economic issues, and play down social issues (with the general audience, at least. You can still let conservative activists know you're on their side.)
Indeed, during the campaign, McDonnell distanced himself from his own previous anti-gay writings. And in the NY-23 congressional election, Republicans rallied 'round the most conservative candidate they could find (even abandoning their own nominee in the process) and promptly lost the seat for the first time in about 150 years.
But, oddly, I haven't seen anyone -- not even on the supposedly-liberal MSNBC -- saying that last night proves that Republicans need to moderate themselves if they're going to win. Weird.