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Handicapping the midterms
July 10, 2006 9:54 AM   Subscribe

As in the 2004 elections, several useful sites have sprung up to keep track of the 2006 midterms for House, Senate and state gubernatorial races. Some have a political point of view, others don't, but they don't differ significantly on the outcome at this point. One of the veterans in this game is ElectionProjection.com, which was pretty close to actual results in '04. (A creation of "the Blogging Caesar"). From the right, there's MyElectionAnalysis.com, while ElectionPredictions seems to come from a neutral corner. All of these track statewide polls as they are published; they may differ in how they weight results. For a more subjective approach, see Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball or the Cook Political Report. Overall, the consensus seems to be that the GOP will hold both houses, but with slimmer margins, and lose on the gubernatorial front.
posted by beagle (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I pray for the health of the union that the consensus is wrong.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2006


America: Still swallowing GOP bullcrap despite claiming not too.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2006


beagle: Speaking as a librarian who deals primarily in political reference questions, these are terrific links. Thanks.
posted by blucevalo at 10:50 AM on July 10, 2006


Robert Novak thinks thinks a Senate takeover by Democrats is a real possibility, speaking for Republicans. I think that sounds about right, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for both houses.
posted by bardic at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2006


When it comes to political prognostication, I'm a Rhodes Cook man. I briefly worked with him in the late 1990s, and I still think he knows more about voting and political trends than anybody around.
posted by thescoop at 10:57 AM on July 10, 2006


Sigh. Are we all still learning how to read polls?

Nationwide polling is meaningless. A vote in Nebraska has more political weight than a vote in NY. Similarly, a vote in a closely contested state is worth more than ten in a clearly decided one.

Look, we knew this was the outcome all along. The only reason anyone thought the Democrats were going to capture the House was because of some nationwide polls that showed people were more likely to vote Democratics/hated bush/etc. The Democrats used these polls to trump up a non-existent momentum for their party.

The districts are gerrymandered, right? So they are designed to produce an outcome. If a district that was overwhelmingly republican in 2004 is now only moderately republican, say for 98% down to 68%, that's a huge move that will show up in national polling as a trend in favor of democrats, but the Republicans still win the district.

The sentiment has to move so far as to pull locked-up gerrymendered districts into the contested category. That is almost impossible to do unless you wait a generation for previous residents (on whom the gerrymandering was based) to move out and be replaced by new people who may be different.

Put more simply, take CA and NY. Both have two democratic senators. Every single voter in NY and CA could become a democrat and it would not make the slightest difference in the senate or the presidential election.

The only thing that matters is districts and states on the margin - have FL, PA, and OH swung clearly in the the democratic camp? Is PA tipping republican?

In any case, none of this matters. GOP keeps the house and all three branches of government, the country goes into recession in 2007, and by 2008, when we are crawling out of it, dark horse candidates will emerge from both parties running on how different they are from their respective parties' establishments. The incompetence of both parties during the last four years is basically wiped clean.

If you want democrats to win, find a moderate republican and persuade them to run as a third party.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2006


the democrats simply haven't articulated a clear enough national alternative for fence-sitters to switch, which leaves the republicans room to run on local and cultural issues ... truth is, if democrats were to win the house, they would be accused of obstructionism as the fighting went on and things continued to go downhill ... in other words, the republicans would have an excuse for what the situation will be in '08

truth is, our country's mired in mediocre leadership on both sides ... we're getting exactly the kind of ineffective people both parties' systems are designed to produce ... and the american public is frustrated with it, but they don't know how to change it ... in the meantime, a republican who's reasonably responsive to local issues is going to be seen as the devil one knows as opposed to the devil one doesn't know

i think the republicans will squeak through ... and i think in the long run, when people see what a mess results, the democrats will benefit from it

of course, something big could happen by november, in which case all bets are off
posted by pyramid termite at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2006


The only problem with your analysis Pastabagel is that gerrymander districts dont' break 90/10, they break 60/40 at best. Why waste your voters by putting them all in one district?
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on July 10, 2006


i think the republicans will squeak through ... and i think in the long run, when people see what a mess results, the democrats will benefit from it...
posted by pyramid termite at 2:02 PM EST on July 10 [+fave] [!]


I understand the logic here, but I disagree. I think the democrats do not benefit from the mess. They are not absent from government, they are still there. That these choose to have no impact, that they choose not to go on record with realistic alternatives, these things are their own fault.

The party machinery is screwed up on both sides. On the right, it produces George Bush, anti-intellectual. On the left, it produces Hillary Clinton, power hungry and proud of it.

Third parties are a joke, and given the size and complexity of this country, they are impossible unless you have a billionaire ex-star CEO running it.

More and more I wonder if the republicans run somebody like Haley Barbour, and if the dems roll the dice with Al Gore again. I can't really see how anyone else in serious contention on either side gets the nomination, because they can all be painted as part of the problem.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:12 AM on July 10, 2006


As long as the "opposition party" is run by a bunch of mealy-mouthed war whores like Hillary, Lieberman and Kerry, there is No Reason why the so-called Democrats should get any benefit from the GOP crime spree and collapse.

Really, why should I care? Why should anyone who wants to see Bush & Co. put on trial & put in a Polish prison for the rest of their miserable lives (I'm against the death penalty) possibly care about going to the polls and "electing" their partners in crime, the Democrats, to anything?

The U.S. Mafia used to have five families. Now it only has two, and they're based in DC rather than New York, New Jersey and Las Vegas. If you're against organized crime, you won't "enable" them by taking part in their sham elections.

On a similar topic, what's going on in Mexico is hugely important and involves some of the very same people who made the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections so "surprising." The worthless liberal political blogs can't be bothered to pay attention to what's happening right next door to (and within) the United States, but it is very interesting for those keeping track of these crimes. NarcoNews is all over it, of course.
posted by kenlayne at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2006


pastabagel, i should rephrase that ... they will benefit from it if they change into something more effective ... i don't know that they will, though ... and it does seem as though they can all be painted as part of the problem
posted by pyramid termite at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2006


Double, sort of.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2006



The only problem with your analysis Pastabagel is that gerrymander districts dont' break 90/10, they break 60/40 at best. Why waste your voters by putting them all in one district?
posted by empath at 2:11 PM EST on July 10 [+fave] [!]


I don't think this is right, especially in inner cities and rural communities. But I don't have the data in front of me. I think the reason this happens is that in certain states you'd rather have a lock on two districts and sacrifice the third rather than put all three into the contested category, because the circumstances that cause you to lose one might lose you all three.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2006


Cool links, thanks. I'll be watching these for the next few months.
posted by octothorpe at 11:20 AM on July 10, 2006


Okay, we have ourselves a conversation. Let's make it interesting, shall we?

Derailing aside, anyone want to speculate on al Qaeda launching an attack right before the 2008 election? If such a thing happened, could either party spin it to their advantage?

Specifically, does a NYC attack in fall 2008 help or hurt the republican candidate? What if Hillary, NY senator, is the democratic candidate?

What if the attack is in the heartland? (I think this favors the republican, but that's just a gut feeling).
posted by Pastabagel at 11:20 AM on July 10, 2006


Interesting links, thanks bagel.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2006


All these sites are operating on the assumption that we'll be having free and fair elections this fall. Why on earth they think that is beyond me.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:25 AM on July 10, 2006


anyone want to speculate on al Qaeda launching an attack right before the 2008 election

For some reason, anything Al Qaeda does is considered good for the Republicans. What's more, experience bears this out. Which is for at least two distinct reasons clear indication this country is completely insane.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:26 AM on July 10, 2006


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. probably thinks there was a second gunman, too.
posted by Captaintripps at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2006


This is based on polling, that doesn't take into account the likes of Blackwell or Diebold. As far as terrorist attacks... My bet is on the same that's going on right now, bogus "threats" being stopped before hand. You know, those real dangerous types that make ridiculous plans in fucking chat rooms. An attack happening wouldn't benefit either party, Republicans would look like idiots, Democrats would be blamed for not "staying the course." I'm betting on "decisive" action against Iran or North Korea. Something flashy with lots of bells and whistles cause one of two will make some mythical steps of aggression against us.
posted by andywolf at 11:29 AM on July 10, 2006


Pastabagel: The line of reasoning I've heard regarding a terrorist attack is that it would clearly benefit the Republican party since Bush and company were able to gain so much power from the previous terrorist attack.

I have no idea how anyone could think that. Wouldn't another attack prove that we aren't "winning" the war on terror? Hasn't this war been sold in part on the fact that there hasn't been another attack? Why then would another attack, no matter what its location, benefit the party in power?
posted by Sandor Clegane at 11:30 AM on July 10, 2006


I have no idea how anyone could think that. Wouldn't another attack prove that we aren't "winning" the war on terror? Hasn't this war been sold in part on the fact that there hasn't been another attack? Why then would another attack, no matter what its location, benefit the party in power?

Humans instinctively rally around leadership in times of crisis, putting aside their various differences to work together to get through the shared catastrophe.

Deciding who to blame for decision-making failures comes much later, if at all.

If the polling numbers are true and the GOP stands to keep its hold on power, this would demonstrate two things: that the public's memory is short-term to the point of pathology, and/or that a sizable chunk of the electorate doesn't care about holding its chosen leaders to account.

It's a cynical view, but perhaps a realistic one given empirical evidence, to expect that people will once again rally around the alpha male (such as it is) one more time, should another large-scale attack be allowed to happen on US soil. It would distract voters from domestic issues and draw the media's attention away from Diebold-assisted coup tactics.

If an attack took place in European or Asian theatres, beyond the economic damage, few voting Americans would care and would once again focus their attentions on domestic issues like energy price gouging, declining healthcare options and dwindling jobs.

The key for the GOP to maintain the appearence of legitimate, democratic rule while holding on through totalitarian mechanisms is for the attack to take place on American soil and be devastating in scope, preferably in an urban zone where it would be easier for a post-Posse Comitatus military to maintain order. /opinion
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 PM on July 10, 2006


The democratic party is really squandering this opportunity. You never hear anything about the party's vision for the future, aside from the occasional Howard Dean interview. The biggest democratic headline-makers are supporters of an unpopular war, whose most innovative legislation seems to revolve around how best to censor the youngest voters' favorite form of entertainment. Unless something changes in the next couple of months, the GOP could easily hold on to most seats with little more than some aggressive rhetoric on gay marriage and homeland security.
posted by Galvatron at 12:19 PM on July 10, 2006


I have no idea how anyone could think that. Wouldn't another attack prove that we aren't "winning" the war on terror? Hasn't this war been sold in part on the fact that there hasn't been another attack? Why then would another attack, no matter what its location, benefit the party in power?
posted by Sandor Clegane at 2:30 PM EST on July 10 [+fave] [!]


This only works if the party in power is republican.

The political climate in this country is best viewed as a dysfunctional family unit. The govt. is either the daddy or the mommy. Dems are mommy because they care about nesting things, food, healthcare, housing, etc. Republicans think of themselves as the daddy - they know what's right for us, they protect us from the outsider (in the "I dont want X dating my daughter" sense), and they do the hunting.

Terrorism is a daddy issue, because it comes from outside the home/community. Healthcare is a mommy issue.

And the people are the kids, looking to mommy and daddy for answers, but afraid to speak up.

This is ridiculously simplistic, but it seems to explain perfectly which issues favor which party.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:22 PM on July 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's also a cribbing of George Lakoff's Moral Politics.
posted by bardic at 1:05 PM on July 10, 2006


The democratic party is really squandering this opportunity. You never hear anything about the party's vision for the future, aside from the occasional Howard Dean interview. The biggest democratic headline-makers are supporters of an unpopular war, whose most innovative legislation seems to revolve around how best to censor the youngest voters' favorite form of entertainment.

I appreciate this sentiment, but I think it's a little misguided. The Dean wing of the Democrats and other genuinely reform-minded types within the party simply aren't given the public spotlight. Remember, the conservatives in most respects dominate the news media now, too, at least at the executive levels (that is, where the ultimate authority for decisions about content lies). From where I sit, the left really never has any opportunity to present itself as a viable opposition party. Sure, all we ever get to see are Democrats looking weak, but by now (after years of "reality tv"), we should all know how easy it is to creatively edit reality by omitting some pieces of information and spinning the rest. Weren't broadcast media fairness and accuracy standards rolled back under the Reagan administration? Just a case of serendipitous timing that those moves immediately preceded an era of unprecedented media consolidation? Maybe, but increasingly, I'm not so sure.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:43 PM on July 10, 2006


I don't have too much to add to this discussion, but it does seem to me that the democrats are really just not rising to the opportunity presented to them.

They just keep hemming and hawing and trying to appease people. Leaders lead because they pick a position and stick with it. If you don't agree with them, then don't vote for them. But people don't want to vote for someone they don't think stands for anything, especially in a time of crisis. "I'll do whatever you guys want me to do, just vote for me!" doesn't inspire people to vote for them, especially when their scared. And if there's one thing the GOP is good at it's stirring up irrational fears in the electorate.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2006


delmoi: i don't entirely disagree with you, based on much of what i've seen from the dems lately. but how the hell are the dems supposed to represent a "big tent" alternative to the lock-step cronyism in the modern republican party if they don't afford party members the latitude to hold a wide range of individual, principled positions? it's impossible. and from that fact, it's a simple trick for the powers-that-be to present the many divergent views held within the democratic party as a result of weak leadership rather than recognizing it as a principled position, and then voila: suddenly the dems look like a bunch of wimps simply for holding their ground. besides, have you ever studied the inner-workings of the political process? minority parties are at such an incredible disadvantage from the get-go in most legislative processes (i know this personally to be true at the state level), it's virtually impossible for them to get any tactical political traction at all without toadying up to the majority party. in order to make small short-term tactical gains, they typically have to make larger strategic sacrifices--that's just an unavoidable reality of our present legislative systems.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:18 PM on July 10, 2006


Would this be a legal ticket?

Gore/Clinton(Wm.)?
posted by notreally at 5:29 PM on July 10, 2006


notreally: the VP must be eligible to be President, so no. (You're not the first to suggest the idea, though.)

If the polling numbers are true and the GOP stands to keep its hold on power, this would demonstrate two things: that the public's memory is short-term to the point of pathology, and/or that a sizable chunk of the electorate doesn't care about holding its chosen leaders to account.

When discussing Congressional elections, just remember Tip O'Neill: "All politics is local." Most people won't consider their local Congressman somebody who needs holding to account.

Really, given the majorities in place, the power of incumbency (especially in the House), and the rules of the gerrymandering game, significant gains is significant. Combined with a skeptical Supreme Court and a Congress with Republican leadership that is already signalling the White House that they won't be its lapdog, the lame duck era is more imminent than ever (few Presidents delay it until after their 2nd term midterms). Consider that Congressmen may be re-elected and remain in the same party, but they do listen when they go from a 70% re-election to 60%. DeLay is also gone and there's evidence that Boehner may have the same approach but not the same personality cult.

And ultimately, the thinning of margins tends to increase the power of moderates and swing voters (this is called the Banzhaf rule). It's the sort of thing that keeps batshitinsane splinter parties in Israeli coalition governments -- their 2 votes, say, are ever so much more valuable.

So even with a GOP-run Congress the same dynamic won't be in place. No, it won't be a progressive dream, but I think the next Congress, even if Republican in both houses, will belatedly rediscover its legislative responsibilities.
posted by dhartung at 9:37 PM on July 10, 2006


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