From the Washington Post.
Putting The Hastert Seat Loss in Context
Republicans' defeat in last Saturday's special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was stunning on its face but the implications of the contest are potentially far-reaching and critical in understanding the coming November elections.
As much as Republican strategists sought to downplay the national importance of the race -- mostly accomplished through bad-mouthing of their candidate -- it's clear that the race was fought on national, not local, issues.
The winner, Democrat Bill Foster, focused heavily on the troubled state of the economy and hit his Republican opponent -- dairy magnate Jim Oberweis -- as a willing advocate for the President Bush and the administration's policies on Iraq. Oberweis and national Republicans, on the other had, cast Foster as a tax-and-spend Democrat willing to throw money at any problem to make it better.
The fact that voters in an exurban district that went for Bush by double digits in 2000 and 2004 opted for the Democratic national message is telling. It suggests that the national political landscape is decidedly tilted in Democrats' favor -- that the uneven playing field of the 2006 election is still alive and well...