Friday, September 17, 2010

Election 2010: T-46 Days

In forty-six days, we'll go to the polls to elect the next Congress -- the entire House of Representatives, and one-third of the Senate. It's liable to be a bad year to be a Democrat. But first, we'll look at the numbers:


Democrats retain control of the Senate: 64.6%
Democrats retain control of the House: 29.0%

Republicans get control of the Senate: 25.4%
Republicans get control of the House: 68.7%

(Interestingly enough, Intrade quotes 15% chance that neither party will control the Senate. I'm fairly sure that outcome isn't even possible.)


House Seats Solidly D: 168
House Seats Leaning D: 46
House Seats Tossup: 34
House Seats Leaning R: 19
House Seats Solidly R: 168

Senate Seats Solidly D: 46
Senate Seats Leaning D: 5
Senate Seats Tossup: 9
Senate Seats Leaning R: 5
Senate Seats Solidly R: 36

(Continuing seats are included in the "Solidly" count.)

As it stands today, the Republicans have to run the table in the "toss-up" districts to recapture the House. Which is possible, and I'd say even likely, given the current state of the country.

The main story of this election cycle isn't really the Tea Party, although they've made the most noise. The reason that this year is poison for the Democrats is all about the economy, and that's about the size of it. Just like last time, except that the party in power has changed. The recovery is underway, but has not gathered enough steam yet to make a big difference on Main Street. Therefore, too many people are still out of work or underemployed, and there's a vast reservoir of discontent amongst the electorate. This, more than anything else, is why we're liable to have a new Speaker of the House come January.

What it's not is an indictment of Democrats' support for the health care bill, except tangentially. Obama spent a large amount of time, effort, and political capital to get that bill passed. There is a perception that this took time and effort away from economic matters. Whether the charge is true or not is almost irrelevant, the perception is still there, and it's going to hurt.

What it's also not, is a broader acceptance of the Tea Party and its principles. This is the point that is liable to be very interesting indeed going forward from 2010 into 2012. The Republicans are probably going to recapture the House ... and may well learn the wrong lesson from their victory.

The right lesson to learn would be that the American public wants the economy moving again. What they're not especially interested in is a Congress that's locked in an ideological war with the White House, getting nothing of interest done. That's an outcome that doesn't really do them any good two years down the road. If they take a hard line, they give Obama a free ride to tack towards the center, and a run at re-election as a centrist moderate.

I think it's entirely probable that they will take a hard line. In its current, Tea Party driven form, the GOP has doubled down on the crazy. They'll interpret their win in November as a mandate, and the blow-back will be a harsh surprise to them.

This, of course, assumes that a reasonably strong recovery is underway in two years' time. I think that's the way to bet. If it's not, all bets are off. But if it shakes out the way I expect, the Republicans will pay a stiff price in 2012 for ideological recalcitrance today.


Infidel753 said...

It certainly wouldn't be unprecedented. Elections tend to turn on one or two major issues, usually the economy or war. But whichever party thereby wins, interprets the win as an electoral endorsement of its entire perceived agenda.

In this case, a strong win for the Republicans would just encourage all the crazies and make it harder for the rational conservatives to regain control.

That would help the Democrats in 2012, but it wouldn't be good for the country. We need two sane political parties.

Manifesto Joe said...

I think we're set up for a lot more gridlock. Obama will veto anything that a Republican House majority passes, and they probably won't have the votes to override even once.

Then it will be a matter of whom the American people blame more come Nov. 2012. Very little will get done, but politically it could be a very interesting 2 years.