The New York GOP is dying
A serious question: is there even going to be a republican party in this state, in the sense of an organization with meaningful ability to influence public policy, after the November elections?
The signs at this moment aren't all that promising. The not-so-casual observer can isolate three flashing signs of decline.
Fragmented, low-profile leadership: The top-ranking republican in this state today is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Skelos has virtually no statewide profile and isn't really doing much to acquire one, choosing to act very much like the leader merely of Long Island republicans, and not as the titular head of his party for the entire state. The rest of the leadership roster is similarly desiccated; Rudy Giuliani, the best-known New York leader of that party, went from Presidential front-runner to also-ran in a matter of weeks, former governor George Pataki has vanished, former Senator Al D'Amato is busy lobbying, and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is probably negotiating with the Feds right now over those pesky indictments. Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, has opted out of anything having to do with state politics for a very long time.
As to the next generation of leadership, if it's out there, it's difficult to detect. This stems in part from a systemic feature of our electoral system, whereby New Yorkers stick with incumbent legislators for decades (a problem that similarly affects the black political leadership, in ways that offer parallels to the republican challenges). Republicans, by choking off avenues of advancement for new stars - cf. Trunzo, Caesar, or Maltese, Serph - have disincented their young guns from seeking out the path of public service.
A lack of infrastructure:
Democrats and Progressives have spent the last decade or so building infrastructure, and most of that work has been bottom-up. We have dozens of blogs that directly drive traditional media coverage, the best GOTV operation in the state provided by the WFP (which also provides a useful incentive for Democrats to act Progressively), several state-wide and local email lists that reach activists, bloggers, office-holders and volunteers at a moment's notice, kick-ass commercial firms like Global Strategy Group and Knickerbocker SKD, one of the best ad-makers in the country in Jimmy Siegel, and so on and so forth.
The republicans have nothing to compare to this huge, complex and largely self-directed machine.
An impending electoral meltdown:
It's entirely possible that New Yorkers are going to wake up on November 5th represented by twenty-six Democratic Congressmen and with a six-seat (or larger) Democratic Senate majority. The messaging environment in the Congressional races is driven largely by national issues, of course, but consider some of the signs pointing to a party in disarray: In Staten Island, republicans are desperately trying to get disgraced NY-13 incumbent to throw his hat in the ring, despite the fact that he's probably going to spend a few days in jail before the election. Republicans have held that seat for thirty years. Meanwhile, yesterday's Siena poll confirmed that the Senate republican offense has collapsed, and that their defense is tottering. The Democratic share of the vote in the 2006 Senate elections was already higher than that of Joe Bruno's embattled minions. Ina year characterized by a pronounced enthusiasm gap between the two parties, that's probably not going to change for the better for the GOP.
Republicans had better start thinking about what to do next, because they're about to get hit by a truck.