Free Markets, Free People
There are polls and then there is Charlie Cook – probably one of the most respected of Democratic election analysts. And he’s earned that respect by being one of the most accurate Democratic election analysts in the past. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Cook and his staff probably spend more time analyzing individual House and Senate races than anyone in the business.
And Charlie Cook says Nov. 2nd looks bleak for House Democrats. The GOP needs a minimum of 39 seats to take back the House. Cook says that the range he predicts is a gain of 35-45 seats with the chances of reaching the high side much greater than reaching just the low side.
He points to 53 seats as key since these were seats held by Republicans just 4 years ago.
In the Senate, the chances of the GOP taking control are much less probable. They’d have to take 16 of 18 contested seats and that’s probably an electoral “bridge too far”.
So why does he think the first Tuesday in November is shaping up to be a bad day for Democrats? History is the teacher:
The basis of his analysis is simple: This doesn’t look or feel like a normal midterm election. "There are two kinds of elections," he said. "There’s sort of the Tip O’Neill all-politics-is-local, and then there are wave elections. We’re seeing just every sign in the world that this is going to be a wave, and a pretty good-sized wave."
What Cook is seeing is all the signs pointing too a 1994 wave election where a fed up electorate sweeps the majority party out of power. I’d add that another way to explain it is whether or not the election is nationalized (voters have an axe to grind with national leadership) or localized (no real national issues over local ones). In this case, it is all about national issues and the majority party’s agenda. And that’s not good news for the Democrats since a large majority of those polled consistently point out the country is on the wrong track.
The open question is will the Democrats find a way to convince voters that what they’ve done with their time in Congress is beneficial and something for which they deserve reelection:
On the other hand, Democrats might figure out how to do a better job convincing the nation of the wisdom of their policies. The apparent return of General Motors to health after President Barack Obama’s bailout might help. Mr. Obama, who, despite his problems, remains far more popular than his party’s congressional leaders, stands the best chance of making that case.
And Democrats’ money advantage, which Mr. Obama was working to enhance this week with a fund-raising tour, will help in the stretch run.
Above all, Democrats might finally get their base more excited.
All indications point to a less than excited base – in fact, there’s open warfare between the White House and the “professional left”. “Exciting the base” also means women, latinos and the young turning out for Democrats as they did for Obama. I simply don’t see that in the cards. And every poll I see says the independents, the most sought after demographic in party politics, going increasingly to the GOP side.
As for Obama’s personal popularity, we may all like someone for many often indefinable reasons – but that doesn’t mean we consider him competent or we’d reelect him or those like him again. I think many times, popularity is very overrated in polling. And you see that when you compare popularity with job performance numbers. Obama has very good popularity ratings while also having very high job disapproval ratings.
All in all, I think Cook will be proved right again. Dems are going to lose the House and we should finally be rid of Nancy Pelosi. At that point, we can at least quit worrying about Joe Biden’s health since she’d no longer be third in line for presidential succession.