A rosy scenario where Democrats stay in power

Posted on August 26, 2010

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Reid Wilson at Hotline On Call makes an interesting case as to why, despite dismal polls to the contrary, Democrats will maintain control of the House of Representatives. The reasons he gives for Democrats staying in the driver’s seat boil down to these four advantages:

  1. Money (Democrats have more)
  2. Turnout operations (due to #1)
  3. Opposition research (aka attack ads that can get run more due to #1)
  4. Faulty poll modeling (he cites the example of the special election in PA-12)

That’s about it. So basically, it’s all related to money and stupid pollsters. The money advantage is hard to deny, though it’s important to note that Democrats lagged Republicans in funds when they took control in 2006. I don’t think it speaks well for your party or your agenda when the big things you can point to are the ability to buy the election and smear your opponent in the process. I guess two years of monumentally historic legislation aren’t enough to build a case for your reelection.

A note on the faulty poll modelling: If we were talking a small special election, hell, even a statewide contest, then I might concede more to Mr. Wilson’s point. But nearly all polls nationwide show that Democrats trail Republicans on nearly all the issues, that their key pieces of legislation (cap-and-trade, health care reform, stimulus) are rejected by majorities of the populace, and that the head of their party, President Obama, deemed a near demigod after his election, has watched his approval ratings slide into the low 40’s with majorities disapproving in swing states. AP at Hot Air notes that we still need to factor in the major gap in enthusiasm between the two parties as well as the money that will be spent by outside groups on the GOP’s behalf.

Obviously, the dynamics of each individual race matter, and the midterms aren’t one national election of Republican vs. Democrat, it’s hundreds of local elections pitting candidates of varying quality against each other. But even with that, when you have Charlie Cook and Public Policy Polling basically conceding the House already, it’s not a fluke of poll design. You’re looking at a very real shift in the mood of the country, fed in part by the stagnant economy, but fueled also by the very agenda that Democrats have to stand behind.

Articles like this are important because they should remind the right that nothing is certain until after the votes are counted (and sometimes not even then). The outlook may appear favorable today, but in politics events are drivers that can swing momentum, especially when a majority of the mainstream media and professional commentators are pulling for a certain outcome.

Even with all that uncertainty, though, things look grim for Democrats and they have only two months to dramatically reverse their situation. It’s gotten so bad that some Democrats are even campaigning by evoking opposition to some of Obama’s policies.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to those hopeful of a November Hail Mary, including many of the commenters on Wilson’s article. There’s no way Democrats can lose, see, because America still hates Republicans so much, and plus they’re fascist and evil, so they won’t win. In fact, it all really boils down to Republicans are hateful and bigoted and stupid and greedy and the devil. It’s third-grade thinking that I’m almost glad to see present on the other side.

If I had to guess, my gut tells me the GOP at least narrowly squeaks through in the House and falls just short in the Senate. But nobody should count their chickens until they’re in the deep fryer, so keep at it – even if the Democrats lose seats (which they will), a modest loss will be pooh-poohed as in line with history and not reflective of the Democrats’ agenda. Only a massive walloping will unequivocally send a message – which is an uphill climb under any circumstance.

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Posted in: Politics