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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Election Prognostication

Bloomberg has an interesting piece about the possible outcome of the 2006 mid-terms. What is most notable about this piece are a couple of quotes that might be of interest to the GOP:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Charles Rangel and Chairman -- again -- John Dingell. Those titles will soon sound familiar.

Barring an unexpected and big event, Democrats will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November and conceivably the Senate, too. Whether it's a tsunami or just a powerful wave, the political dynamics are moving in that direction, or more accurately, against the Republicans and President George W. Bush.

Democratic insiders, who months ago thought their chances of winning a majority in the House were no better than even, and that the Senate was a lost cause, have become far more optimistic. Now, they say, winning the House is a lock, and the Senate is within reach.

``We have to go back to 1974 (during Watergate) to find such a favorable environment,'' says James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. ``If we can't win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party.''

More telling is that the smartest Republican political minds agree. ``The issue matrix and political dynamics are not good for us,'' says Representative Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican. ``Only some big national or international event before the election can change that.''

While I agree, to a point, with Rep. Davis, I do advise against such pessimism. Yes, the country isn't exactly happy with things right now, and while that anger is directed at Republicans, the people know that the Democrats have no plans at all. So while they may be upset with our side, at least our side has ideas. To date the biggest platform the Democrats seem to be running on this election year is "Bring the troops home." And James Carville, of all people, is correct in pointing out that one more failure by the Democrats would be a significant blow.

In 2004 the Democrats swore they were going "soul-searching" for something to bring their party back. That crusade led them in the same direction they had been sliding towards for four years. After the defeat of Gore in 2000, and the successful mid-terms in 2002, the Democrats were desperate for a winner. And they put John Kerry up, who spent as much time swallowing his foot on the campaign trail as he did blowing it off. Gaffe after gaffe, lie after lie, Kerry killed himself--becoming, virtually, his own worst enemy--during the campaign, and President Bush barely broke a sweat dealing with him. (No comments about the debates, please. We know the president's strong suit isn't public speaking.) More defeats on Capitol Hill in the elections, the loss of John Kerry, and the Democrats were on the ropes; stunned that they were resoundingly told to "shut up" by the voters for a third consecutive election. If they lose this time, there's "trouble in River City," kiddies, and it points straight to the extreme, unhinged Left in their party.

Bill McInturff, the pre-eminent Republican pollster who sees survey data from all over the country, isn't any more sanguine. ``The national mood is like that of sweep elections,'' he says. ``People are angry about Iraq, about gas prices, about health care.''

Privately, Republican congressional leaders are bracing to lose 20 to 30 House seats -- more than the net 15 gain that Democrats need to take control of that chamber -- and to barely hold on to their Senate majority.

Still, the likely Democratic victory will have minimal significance for the 2008 presidential race and probably for legislation in the next Congress as well. The 1994 Republican landslide was followed by Clinton's re-election two years later; Democratic successes in the 1982 and 1986-off year elections were followed by two embarrassing rejections in the next presidential elections.

``On Nov. 7, people don't have to say they're for Hillary Clinton; all they say is they're angry,'' McInturff says.

Anger is a good thing and a bad thing. The Democrats, for six years now, have shown their anger at the president. Voters made their party pay in 2002 with the unbelievable defeat of Tom Daschle to John Thune. The voters rejected John Kerry's "nuanced" approach to everything, where he was of two minds about everything. And even Hillary, the little media darling, has taken it on the chin from the ones who believe they now run the party. Those people include the likes of Markos Moulitsas, AKA Daily Kos, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Howard Dean. the "nutroots" as we center-righters call them, seem to believe that their vision of the Democratic Party is better than anything contrived by the status quo. and in an amazing display of foolishness, those same leaders have embraced their 'Net-born brethren, and unhinged nutters.

Which is why we are stuck on the skipping record of "Bring the Troops home." That is all the Democrats have to offer. Retreat in selfish anger, and abandon another country to the forces that threaten to rend it. The Democrats seem to miss the idea of a serious fall-out; that being an emboldened enemy that will have yet another chaotic cess-pool to launch their missions against the West from. And those that will suffer in the aftermath will be the innocent men, women, and children of Iraq and the region. All because we abandoned our mission to serve the self-serving politicos in Congress.

Even with a slight Democratic majority, the next Congress is likely to be just as stalemated on big issues such as reducing taxes or overhauling entitlement programs like Social Security. With Bush wielding a veto pen, Democrats aren't going to enact any important domestic initiatives.

The most important difference -- and the reason the White House desperately hopes to avoid a Democratic House -- will be much more aggressive oversight. With tough lawmakers like Dingell of Michigan and Henry Waxman of California setting oversight agendas, defense contractors such as Halliburton Co., eavesdroppers at the national security and intelligence agencies and anti-environmentalists at the Interior Department will be in for a rough few years.

To win the six seats necessary for a Senate majority, Democrats need a perfect political storm that even a tsunami may not produce. There is, party strategists believe, a good chance to knock off five Republican incumbents; any other victory would be a real upset, and Republicans are competitive for several Democratic-held Senate seats.

The Democrats shouldn't be afraid of the president's veto pen at all. He has vetoed ONE bill in his six years in the Oval Office. As long as it's nothing totally outrageous, they could pretty much pass anything they want. The president may have an "R" at the end of his name, but he's a moderate at heart; voters should have seen this in 2000. I did, and I still chose the lesser of two evils, at that point.

And while the Democrats do need to create a "perfect storm" scenario to capture the six seats needed to swing the majority in their favor, that storm may lose some wind from its sails should Joe Lieberman win his reelection bid. While he will, no doubt, continue to vote with the Democrat caucus, his support will come from a much larger base, which opens up more center-leaning Democrats to the idea that they don't have to stay lock-step with the unhinged nutters in their party; the purse strings won't be held by the Deaniacs. For those Democrats, the purse strings will be held by the people. They will succeed or fail based on the message they present and not the whims of their party.

The dynamics are different in the House. On a seat-by-seat analysis, there are three-dozen potentially vulnerable Republicans. Conversely, there are fewer than a handful of endangered Democrats. ``They are not playing much defense,'' laments Republican Congressman Davis.

The Democrats enjoy a couple of other tactical advantages. One is that their Senate and House campaign committees have been remarkably successful in raising money; Republicans will enjoy less of a financial advantage than usual.

Another is that in several states where three or four House seats are closely contested -- New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- a top-of-the-ticket sweep by strong candidates such as Eliot Spitzer, who's running for governor in New York, and Hillary Clinton, who's going for re-election in the Senate, may be decisive.

Moreover, if there is a national tide, the Democrats will win seats that aren't on anyone's radar screens today. ``There are going to be some people in Washington, D.C., next January that no one's ever heard of,'' Carville predicts.

I agree with Carville on that point, and I'm hedging my bets that a few of them will be Republican. John Murtha's running close to even against his opponent. Cynthia McKinney's been bounced in favor of a moderate Democrat. And there a ton of House races that aren't the blow outs the Democrats are portraying. (Head to NRCC.org for the skinny on the House races.) But I think we're a far cry from Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Rangel. If the GOP does suffer a loss in the House (which it holds a thirty seat majority right now) it will be small. My prediction is seven to ten seats, at most. But the loss will be nothing compared to who might lose on the Democrat side.

The Senate is a bit tougher. We have a few that aren't returning. Bill Frist is retiring. Joining him is Paul Sarbanes, Susan Collins, Sam Brownback, Mark Dayton, and Jim Jeffords. Effectively that's an even split--3 Democrats and 3 Republicans--and the seats are hotly contested right now. But there are strong candidates, including people like Michael Steele, coming up from the gOP ranks, and challenging for Senate seats. While the House is important (as all spending originates in the House), the Senate is important for a couple of reasons. First, any of the impeachment talk from the house Dmeocrats will die as soon as they see the GOP maintains a majority in the Senate; it will be a replay of the Clinton impeachment proceedings. (Of course a charge that sticks would be nice.) Second, judges are still an issue for the nation, and the Senate handles those exclusively. A third reason the Senate's important is the war. The Senate seems to delve into the issue a biot more than the House, and a strong majority in the Senate will keep any of the nutters from busting loose.

The simple fact of the matter remains that the Democrats can crow about what they may be able to do, but it's not set in stone. Neither is a GOP victory. BOTH sides are going to be working their butts off to make the gains they need. The difference between the two is that the GOP has a solid platform. The Democrats are running on the same-old-song-and-dance. Anybody but Bush and cut-and-run from Iraq. The voters aren't happy with this sort of delusionalism from these people. They may not be happy with the GOP, but the voters will recognize we have a platform, a vision, and a message.

All the Democrats seem to have is seething anger, and that will only carry them so far.

Publius II

Welcome Hugh Hewitt Readers. Please feel free to leave comments if you choose to, or you may contact Marcie or I at: MrAndMrsSmithIki@aol.com.


Blogger DaMav said...

The loss of the House by Republicans will virtually guarantee passage of an Amnesty Bill for illegal aliens.

Only the conservatives in the House currently stand between America and amnesty: The Senate has already passed the bill, Bush certainly supports it.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan Collins retiring? Uh, actually it's Senator Snowe in Maine who's up, and she's a shoe in to get reelected...don't know where you folks are getting your information, but it does make one question your analysis if your basic premises aren't correct.

12:52 PM  

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