Free Markets, Free People

Elections

Eye On The Polls – Not Good News For Democrats Or Incumbents (Update)

A bunch of interesting polls have emerged today.  One finds Obama at his lowest job performance rating yet.  Of course, as you might expect, Republicans mostly  disapprove of his job performance.  Democrats, on the other hand, generally approve.  But what gets his job approval rating to 44% approval, 47% disapproval in this Marist poll are the independents.  They’re very dissatisfied with his performance – only 29% approve while almost twice that number, 57% disapprove.

Remember it was the independents who put Obama over the top in 2008. Also remember it was they who put Scott Brown over the top in MA and were key in the elections in VA and NJ.

As for Obama’s personal popularity, that too has suffered.

And while GOPers strive to avoid attacking Obama personally, for fear of offending voters who see him in a favorable light personally, even that aura of invincibility is wearing off. Independent voters view Obama negatively, too, by a 39% favorable to 52% unfavorable margin. All registered voters still see Obama favorably by a 50%-44% margin, but that’s down 5 points in just 2 months.

However, there’s more to this than just Obama’s job approval and personal ratings. Also found in this poll is a strong trend toward anti-incumbency:

Meanwhile, members of Congress should brace for a difficult election year. 42% of registered voters said they would back their current member of Congress, while 44% said they would support someone else — a drop of 9 points in support of the incumbent in just 2 months.

Rassmussen has a poll out that begins to flesh out why that trend is building. Three-quarters of the public, according to his latest polling data, express some level of anger at the policies of the federal government. That’s up 4 points from November. It is also why I call the Tea Parties the “tip of the populist iceberg”. There are a whole lot of unhappy voters out there.

So how does it break down? Well, not as Jacob Weisberg and the “ignorant, childish voters who want to live in Candyland” crew would have you believe.

Part of the frustration is likely due to the belief of 60% of voters that neither Republican political leaders nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today. That finding is identical to the view last September, just after the tumultuous congressional town hall meetings the month before. But only 52% felt this way in November.

And, as time goes by, this trend continues to grow. Note that the leaders of both parties are identified as being clueless by this 60%.

So this week let’s revisit the comparison between the Political Class and the Mainstream (you proles in flyover land) voters. And as we saw last time we checked it out, the PC bunch is totally clueless:

The divide between the Political Class and Mainstream voters, however, is remarkable. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Mainstream voters are angry, but 84% of the Political Class are not. Those numbers include 57% of Mainstream voters who are Very Angry and 51% of the Political Class who are not angry at all.

But then 68% of Mainstream voters don’t think the leaders of either major political party have a good understanding of what the country needs today. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the Political Class disagree.

By comparison, the majority of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliateds don’t believe the current political leaders have a good handle on what is needed today.

Older voters and higher-income voters share that belief most strongly.

Thus the Tea Parties and the very negative reaction by the PC to them. They simply don’t get it. Which is why we’re suffering through this spate of leftist pundit tantrums in which they damn the people, democracy, and the opposition for being unwilling to roll over and submit to their sublime enlightenment, ability to know what is good for us and benevolent despotism. We’re seeing laments about how the good old day before the damned internet, talk radio and 24 hour cable let the enlightened elite do as they wish.

Look around you my friends – to this point that’s worked out just wonderfully hasn’t it?

Rasmussen lists a bunch of reaction which pretty much outline what you’re hearing from the most vocal of the Tea Partiers:

Most voters oppose the now-seemingly-derailed health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats for months. They continue to have very mixed feelings about the $787-billion economic stimulus plan approved by Congress last February.

Looking back, most voters still don’t approve of the multi-billion-dollar government bailouts of the financial industry and troubled automakers General Motors and Chrysler.

Forty-nine percent (49%) worry the government will try to do too much to help the economy, while 39% fear it won’t do enough.

As the economy continues to stumble along, 59% of voters believe cutting taxes is better than increasing government spending as a job-creation tool, but 72% expect the nation’s elected politicians to increase spending instead.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes.

Voters have consistently said for months that they have more confidence in their own economic judgment than that of either the president or Congress.

Charles Krauthammer calls this “The Great Peasant Revolt of 2010”. And in a very real sense it is. What Republicans haven’t yet grasped is this revolt is pretty non-partisan. The reason Republicans seem less threatened by it is because of their fiscally conservative, limited government philosophy. Democrats, on the other hand, suffer more because of their tendency toward fiscal profligacy and government expansion. The problem for Republicans, however, is the country is no longer in a mood to see them give fiscal conservatism and limited government lip service.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at this Iowa poll:

A third of Iowans from across the political spectrum say they support the “tea party” movement, sounding a loud chorus of dissatisfaction with government, according to The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll.

Neither party has a lock on these restless advocates of limited government and fiscal control, according to the poll. However, their conservative leanings appear to give Republicans a greater opportunity than Democrats to make gains at the dawn of a volatile election year.

Is the GOP listening?

It should be clear to both sides that we’re moving into an era of “do what you say or be gone”. The days when incumbents only left office when they assumed room temperature, as did Jack Murtha today, are coming to an end.  What the Tea Parties signal is a much more connected, networked and activist population which has been empowered by the communications technology of today – much to the chagrin of the elitists.

The fun is just beginning. Barack Obama and the Democrats may not realize it, but the era of big government is over.

UPDATE: Gallup also has polling numbers out today. They run different approval ratings for Obama on 9 different issues.

At 36%, Americans give President Barack Obama his lowest job approval rating yet on his handling of the economy. By contrast, the president’s 51% approval rating on handling foreign affairs is up slightly from last month.

As I’ve noted any number of times, the foreign policy’s crisis is yet to come.  2009 was a year of checking out the new president and assessing his strengths and weaknesses.  2010 will be the year that actually tests his foreign policy skills and abilities.

On domestic issues, Obama’s approval rating is in the tank  at 36%.

Most interesting though was the fact that in the list of 9 issues, both foreign and domestic, independents did not once give Obama a majority approval rating, again making the point that indies are not at all happy with his administration.

~McQ

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I Had To Laugh …

Marion Berry, Democratic Representative from Arkansas, has decided to retire from Congress voluntarily instead of chancing an involuntary retirement via the ballot box. Berry is considered a “blue dog” Democrat and is from a nominally conservative state whose voters have made it clear they don’t support the policies or agenda of this Congress or this president.

Berry relates an incident that struck me as the ultimate in hubris and arrogance:

Berry recounted meetings with White House officials, reminiscent of some during the Clinton days, where he and others urged them not to force Blue Dogs “off into that swamp” of supporting bills that would be unpopular with voters back home.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.” [snip]

What got me laughing was how badly that statement may come to haunt Obama. They certainly have him, but as the political stars are aligning right now, “me” may end up in worse shape than did Bill Clinton. He’s already seen a super-majority go by the boards in the Senate – something Clinton never had – and it isn’t at all impossible that what most people would consider prohibitive majorities in both houses of Congress could be significantly reduced or, possibly, flip – although the latter is unlikely.

The only reason it wouldn’t be like ’94 is because there are enough Democratic safe seats to prevent the flip. But then, after Massachusetts, one has to wonder how many really safe seats there are. And what if the GOP trots something like this out in the interim?

In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, President Obama said:

“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.”

There is a third option which he obviously avoided. He could end up being a very mediocre and Carteresque one-term president the way things are trending.

~McQ

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Republicans And Democrats Still Don’t Get It

The WSJ carries a story this morning entitled “White House Toughens Tone”. The essence of the article is the White House intends to use the State of the Union address to push an even larger agenda and isn’t about making any “abrupt policy shifts”. He will, however, be stressing jobs.

OK. So what? I think we’ve seen a year of speeches which, for the most part, pushed a nebulous agenda but then saw an ineffectual White House unable to push any of it through. What will be different with the SOTU address (other than the fact his use of his teleprompter will be in front of adults vs. sixth graders)?

The article also touts the fact that David Plouffe will be joining the staff of the White House. That is a purely political move, having little effect on policy or its accomplishment. Plouffe is a spin-meister whose preferred venue is a campaign where claims are rarely questioned. That’s not the venue he will find in the White House. And again, if nothing in terms of leadership from the White House follows the SOTU speech, the result will be much the same as it has been all year, Plouffe or no Plouffe.

“People are working harder,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the economy. “If they have a job, they’re working harder for less. They’re falling behind. That’s been true for a decade. They look at a wave of irresponsibility from Wall Street to Washington that led to that. And those were the frustrations that got the president elected in the first place, and they were reflected again on Tuesday” in the Massachusetts election.

All that Republican can hope for is David Axelrod and the White House keep believing this. The frustration he’s seeing from voters has little to do with Wall Street, despite the White House’s attempt to make it a populist cause. What is “frustrating” the voters is the out of control government spending and the massively increasing size of government and it’s continued intrusion into their lives. Yes, they want government focusing on the economy and jobs. But not if the “answer” is throwing more money we don’t have at it. Do what is necessary with tax cuts (such as an immediate one for payroll taxes) and rolling back some of the regulatory regime to encourage business to hire and expand. But Democrats and the White House seem oblivious to the fact that 56% of the country opposed the so-called “stimulus” and still do. So I look for Obama to promise massive spending increases to support whatever “focus” he brings to jobs in the SOTU address.

As for Republicans? Well, they have it wrong as well:

Republicans, meanwhile, said their victory in Massachusetts was spurred by opposition to the health overhaul. “The message in Massachusetts was absolutely clear,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “The exit polls that I looked at said 48% of the people in Massachusetts said they voted for the new senator over health care. Only 5% mentioned any other issue. The American people had a victory in Massachusetts, and they were sending us the message ‘Stop and start over.’ ”

Certainly health care was the immediate issue that is most identified as a reason for voting for Brown, but Brown’s overall theme was less spending, less taxation and smaller government. The voter’s disapproval of health care was just part of a broader disapproval of an out of control government spending them into penury. People are finally frightened by what they see. Over the decades the increases in the size, scope and spending of government has been relatively slow and incremental. But within the last year, it has been so massive that even the most disinterested of citizens has been alarmed by it. Democrats are seeking to raise the debt ceiling by 1.9 trillion dollars – again.

This sort of spending is recognized as “out of control” by even the least informed among us. If Republicans focus only on the Brown victory being about health care, they will, as usual, have missed the real problem and the real issue. And that’s unfortunate because it is an issue that plays to their strengths much better than it does those of Democrats. Scott Brown is going to Washington DC because he’s talked about making government smaller, less intrusive and less expensive. He ran a good campaign focused on those primary core issues. It is a blueprint for the coming midterms if the Republicans are smart enough to figure that out and use those broad issues against this Congress and President. They need to get over gloating about stopping health care and make the point that it’s about stopping explosive government growth and the spending that goes with it. It’s about telling the people we can’t afford this and they’re the ones to right the ship of state and cut back on its size and expense. For once, it appears the people are ready to listen to that message. I’m not sure how many more hints they have to throw the Republican’s way before they finally figure it out.

~McQ

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Buyer’s Remorse

We have two examples today and they’re each interesting because of who they are.

The first is a self-identified independent – Jill Dorson.  She voted twice for Bush, but, as she admits, fell hard for the hype Obama put out there.  She was also put off by the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.

I voted for hope and change and all the intangibles that Obama was peddling in the wake of the financial crisis, Sarah Palin, Sept. 11 and all the other ills that shook our country in the last decade. I wanted something new. Something different. What I got was, I suppose, exactly what I voted for – a spin doctor. And not a very good one at that.

She speaks of how quickly “hope” and “change” went by the boards. How she watched the same sort of policies she thought she had voted against continued. And the bailouts, huge spending programs and the like horrified her.

It was clear after just 90 days what a mistake I’d made. My taxes have gone up and my quality of life has gone down. Hope has given way to disgust and I see now that change is simply a euphemism for “big government.”

Like many others, my view is narrow. I vote for the candidate I think will be best for me. I often define myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. But above all, I want to feel safe and I don’t want to feel that I am being ripped off. I want a president who inspires me and cares about my contribution to the fabric of the country. I want a president with experience and savvy, a Commander in Chief who puts our country and its citizens first.

I only hope the Republicans can find him the next time around.

She nails three points – one, Obama’s a fraud and hasn’t even come close to living up to his promises; two, his “change” was to bigger and even more intrusive government; and three, none of that will matter in 2012 unless Republicans can find a good candidate that year (and, as you can tell, she’s made it clear that’s not Sarah Palin).

But the bottom line is, she’s open to another “change”,. In fact, she’s begging for it. And, I think, she’s indicative of the feelings of many independents (not necessarily for the same reasons) – this is not the change or the guy they thought he was.

Which brings us to the second example of buyer’s remorse – this one is scathing and it’s from a “progressive”. He entitles it “How to Squander the Presidency in One Year” and then David Michael Green spends at least a 1000 words describing how that has been accomplished in detail, calling Obama the Conan O’Brian of presidents. You may not agree with much of what he says, historically, but when he finally gets to Obama he doesn’t hold back.

One point he makes resonated with me as it is a point I’ve been making for a while, in fact, as recently as Friday:

* He does not lead. Americans, especially in times of crisis, want their daddy-president to pick a point on the horizon and lead them to it. Often – especially in the short term – they don’t even care that much which point it is. They will happily follow a president whose policies they oppose if he will but lead.

Everything after the first sentence is a load. But even Green has figured out that Obama isn’t a leader and has never demonstrated any leadership. And that has consequences. Green comes to the very same conclusions I voiced Friday:

* He has therefore let Congress ‘lead’ on nearly every issue, another surefire mistake. Instead of demanding that they pass real stimulus legislation – which would have really stimulated the economy, big-time, and right now – he let those d*ckheads on the Hill just load up a big pork party blivet of a bill with all the pet projects they could find, designed purely to benefit their personal standing with the voters at home, rather than to actually produce jobs for Americans. And on health care, his signature issue, he did the same thing. “You guys write it, and I’ll sign the check.” Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?

Bingo. And Green goes on and on and on. Be sure to read it all. The point, of course, is he’s managed to alienate not only the voters who would be the determining factor in any election – the big middle – but his base, which held so much “hope” for his presidency and now realize they bought a pig in a poke and should have known better. What that translates into is an “enthusiasm gap” which is going to be hard to bridge if things don’t change. And, if nothing changes, Indies will vote for the other guy (assuming the Republicans have a worthwhile candidate lined up) and Democrats will stay home.

We’ve seen president’s change before. Bill Clinton was at one time declared to be “irrelevant” yet he managed to again make himself very relevant. And George Bush was counted out more times than any president I know of, yet managed to remain relevant through the majority of his 2 terms.

Obama has got a tough row to hoe – but it is one of his own making. Back to Jill Dorson. She made an interesting statement about the last election:

You see, I felt my choice was to risk McCain dropping dead and letting the world’s most well-known hockey mom run this country …

But instead she decided on risking a junior Senator with absolutely no experience because he was so attractive:

I am ashamed to say that I was blinded by charisma. Obama was so convincing that I stopped caring about what he knew and started getting caught up in the euphoria. Imagine having a president who came from a broken home, who had money troubles, who did grass-roots community service? A young father. The first black president. It pains me to admit I got caught up in the hoopla.

Once that admission is made – and I have a feeling, bolstered by the results in VA, NJ and MA, that it is being made a lot – there’s no going back. That’s where Dorsen finds herself now. And interestingly, so does Green.  Those defections translate into votes for whomever opposed Obama and an “enthusiasm gap” among his supporters which may see them sitting home.

That doesn’t bode well for Obama in 2012 unless the Republicans again run some tired old war horse that is unable to excite the base or independents, as they managed to do last time.  So while Obama certainly has his problems they’re not necessarily terminal, electorally speaking, just yet.  However, I’d say if the Republicans can find an attractive candidate and run a grounded, issue oriented campaign (like Scott Brown in MA) that reflects their principles of less government, less spending and fewer taxes, they have a good shot in the next presidential election.

~McQ

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Democrats Try To Pre-emptively Define New Republican “Responsibility”

That didn’t take long. After essentially ignoring Senate Republicans for a year (well except when they thought they could pick one or two off to help them make something appear “bi-partisan”), Democrats are now ready to lecture Republicans about their new “responsibility”. In a talking points memo issued to Democratic Senators today, they lay out their argument. The memo is entitled:

MASSACHUSETTS ELECTION MEANS THAT SENATE REPUBLICANS HAVE MORE RESPONSIBILITY TO GOVERN, NOT OBSTRUCT

We can literally spend the entire post on just the title. Contained in that sentence is the premise they hope they can sell to the Republicans and thereby lessen the impact of losing their supermajority.

But let’s be real – the election of Brown imposes no such obligation or responsibility on minority Republicans in the Senate anymore than it did on the Democrats when they were in the minority there. What the election of Brown does is make it hard for the Democrats to “govern” in the manner they’d prefer (unilaterally), so they’d like to lay this “responsibility” premise on the Republicans while they’re a bit euphoric over the win last night and might readily agree to that role.

Instead it is the role and responsibility of the GOP to do whatever they think is necessary to block bad legislation that unnecessarily increases the size, scope and cost of government. That’s what Brown promised to do and that’s why he’s going to the Senate. If the Democrats prefer to characterize that as “obstruction” then so be it. Time to grow a thick skin for once in your lives.  And a spine wouldn’t hurt either.

During this last year, the Republicans haven’t had the power to “obstruct” anything and the Democrats know it. Now Republicans do. The fact that the Democrats are left sitting in the legislative ruins of their own making is no skin off the GOP’s nose.  They had their chance and they blew it. If the GOP isn’t completely deaf, what they heard last night with the election of Brown was the people don’t want what the Democrats are selling.

So what should happen? The GOP should reject that premise outright and upfront and they should adopt one that is the polar opposite of that which Democrats are trying to push in their talking point memo.

Specifically: The GOP has the responsibility to obstruct/block/say “no” to the Democratic agenda as they have determined that agenda unnecessarily increases the size, scope and cost of government.

So who are you going to listen too, Republicans? The people or the Democrats?

Yup – That’s test question number one and it’s not multiple choice.

~McQ

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Cognitive Dissonance

Few will disagree that Scott Brown’s solid victory last night was meant to send an important message to Washington. Sure, there will be some whistling past the graveyard, but for the most part the political punditry and policy-makers will understand that something needs to change, and fast. Like dog whistles and Irish brogues, however, not everyone will hear the same thing.

It will not escape those who are truly paying attention that the Senate health care bill currently residing in the House was a huge catalyst behind Brown’s come-from-nowhere win. Brown’s potential cloture-busting vote looms large in a debate where Washington elites have tuned out those whom they mean to rule. It looms so large, and its power to lure slightly more than half the registered voters to the polls on a snowy day for a special election with nothing else on the ballot sends such a strong statement, that even Barney Frank seemed to get the message:

I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.

Virginia Senator Jim Webb said much the same thing last night:

In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.

Yet, somehow, even while recognizing that Democrats playing a legislative game of keepaway with the bill before the House (that was drafted behind closed doors, it should be noted) will only serve to undermine public confidence in the law (and Congress), progressives like Jane Hamsher still think that’s what’s called for now:

In the wake of Martha Coakley’s defeat, both Representative Barney Frank and Senator Jim Webb have said that jamming a health care bill through before Scott Brown can be seated is not the right thing to do.

They’re right. Health care legislation would be viewed — with some justification — as illegitimate.

But many on the Hill tonight are saying that the Massachusetts defeat also means that health care reform is dead, fearful that what happened to Martha Coakley will happen to them, too, in 2010.

That’s about as feasible as Wile E. Coyote trying to turn around and run back across the bridge that is crumbling behind him. There’s only one way to go.

[…]

The non-budgetary “fixes” like banning the exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions have already passed the Senate. A public option — or an expansion of Medicare — can be added through reconciliation, which takes 51 votes. The Republicans certainly had no fear of using reconciliation when George Bush was in office. And the Democrats are going to need to do so in order to make good on their promise to fix the excise tax to benefit of the middle class, which will cost roughly $60 billion. But their options for doing that are limited by the process itself: they can pay for it by the savings from a government program like a public option or an expansion of Medicare. Or, they can piss everyone off and raise taxes.

That looks to be where Gerald Nadler and Anthony Weiner are headed tonight. They indicate that “the only way they could sign on to the Senate bill is if it was accompanied immediately, or even preceded by, a separate bill, making a number of major preemptive changes to what they regard as an inferior package,” per Brian Beutler.

It’s called sidecar reconciliation. And the 65 members of the House who have pledged to vote against any bill that does not have a public option should be looking into it seriously tonight.

Got that? Passing a bill that circumvents Brown’s vote will be viewed “with some justification” as illegitimate, so let’s go ahead and do just that! Do these people even listen to themselves? Using the reconciliation process (“sidecar” or otherwise) to shove health care legislation down Americans’ throats simply eschews the very legislative process that Barney Frank and Jim Webb cited as the reason to forgo further action on health care until Brown is seated. Yet, Hamsher and her cohorts advocate for legislative legerdemain anyway. Cognitive dissonance in action.

The reason, of course, is that passing health care legislation is such a fundamental issue for progressives that they have thrown all sense (such as was possessed) to the wind. It has nothing to do with what people want, but instead with what progressives want people to want. Apparently it doesn’t even matter that the rosy economic projections upon which these health care bills are based have little to no basis in reality. I guess, since the ultimate goal is a utopian fantasy, employing imaginary thinking is the only way to get there.

If nothing else, the reaction of progressives to the Massachusetts race reveals how dangerous they are when wielding power. Inconvenient facts are dismissed, and constituents are ignored, because what the progressive lacks in having any grasp of reality is more than made up for by resounding confidence and self-righteousness. Fortunately for us, the electorate does not appear to be willing to indulge their fantasies anymore.

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The Brown Aftermath: Implications and Machinations

As Democrats survey the aftermath of a devastating defeat in yesterday’s Senate race in of all places, Democrat friendly Massachusetts, they have to be wondering how safe their own seats are.  Even Barbara Boxer, whose polls have shown weakness, has to be a little concerned.  If you can’t hold on to a Senate seat in a state where you outnumber the opposition 3.5 to 1, what seat is safe? Couple that with the fact that their super-majority in the Senate is gone and their legislative agenda in jeopardy, and they have a fine mess on their hands.

So that brings us to the broader implication of the Scott Brown victory yesterday. Does it mean Democrats will back off, heed the message and either kill or drastically reduce the health care bill? Or does it mean they plan on doubling down, pushing that monstrosity through as quickly as possible and hope to have the time to repair the damage before the midterms? Because that’s the choice they’re going to have to make and make soon.

If you listened to Nancy Pelosi yesterday, indications are they plan on doubling down. She’s quoted as saying that no matter what happens with Scott Brown, she plans on seeing health care passed. And, of course, Harry Reid – trailing badly in the polls in his home state – is of a similar mind.

The question is, how? There are several means of accomplishing the task. One is to pass the Senate version unchanged. That would only require a majority in the House and the bill can be sent to the President for signature. However, the Progressive caucus along the the Democratic pro-life wing aren’t at all keen on the idea and they carry enough votes to kill it.

That brings us to another method which seems to at least be the preferred method of the Olbermans, Matthews and Maddows of the world – reconciliation. It requires only simple majorities to pass legislation. But because it is aimed at budgetary legislation, it will mean a pared down health care bill that Democrats can ram through and at least have something to show for it. The question is would that be enough and, will it save them in November. The answer to both questions are probably “no”. However they may be left with little choice but to resort to this method.

And that’s because that last method is a compromise bill (what they’ve been working behind closed doors to craft) which will most likely please no one on the Democratic side (Republicans have lined up solidly against it already since they were shut out of the process) and they’re now facing a fight in the Senate they’re likely to lose (word is Joe Lieberman is again iffy on the bill).

Fun times in DC. But at least it’s a game again with the minority should be armed enough to stop the most outrageous of the liberal agenda. I’m not quit sure how the health care fiasco will play out – hopefully if not dead, it is at least a drastically reduced bill that can be repealed in the future prior to going to going into effect – but I’d say cap-and-trade is in serious trouble if not dead, and immigration reform is going to require Democrats to at least approach Republicans to pass anything meaningful.

Or to put it succinctly – the Brown win brought the blessing of divided government again. It’s by a very slim margin, but it is there again. And that is the model we should always strive to have at a federal level.

Republicans stand to pick up significant gains in November of this year. You can only hope that they’ve learned a valuable lesson from this election as well. The people want smaller and less intrusive government. They’ve once again begun turning to the Republicans to see that wish enabled. The question is will the message be heeded or will Republicans again ignore it as they did previously when in power and end up again handing it back to the Democrats?

We shall see, won’t we?

~McQ

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Massachusetts: Democratic Pants On The Ground

AP has just called the Massachusetts Senate race for Republican Scott Brown (9:25 pm) who looks like he’ll end up with anywhere from a 5 to 7 point win.

Probably the most interesting thing I saw during the coverage was feedback during a Frank Lunz group on Fox (I watched MSNBC most of the night which was, well frankly, highly entertaining).  The group were predominantly Democrats who voted for Obama.  And a good majority of them claim to have voted for Brown.  When asked why they said they were against health care reform, wanted Congress to back off and they were sending a message.

What will be interesting is how all the political “experts” choose to interpret this loss and what adjustments they’ll recommend be made.  But I can tell you right now, there are a whole crap load of Democrats in marginal seats thinking “if we can’t hold Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, what chance have I unless I do something completely different?”

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wake up to a whole new world tomorrow.

More on this later.

~McQ

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So Let’s Say Scott Brown Wins …

I’d say, given all I’ve read and heard pertaining to the polls, that a win by Brown in today’s special Senatorial election in Massachusetts is a pretty solid prediction. But polls have been wrong before. With that said, I think he will pull it off even if only by a point or two.

So what can we expect if that’s the case. 364 days after Barack Obama took office and in what Democrats figured was their seat forever given it had belonged to the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate in deep blue and solidly dependable Massachusetts a Republican wins the seat?

What will be the reaction and what are the implications?

According to Politico, President Obama’s reaction to such a win will be to “fight hard”. Nice words for a pep rally.But if Brown wins, fighting hard will be about all that’s left to Obama as the filibuster proof majority in the Senate will have gone up in smoke. And that, of course puts his entire ambitious agenda, to include the pending health care bill, in jeopardy.

A potential casualty: the health care bill that was to be the crowning achievement of the president’s first year in office.

The health care backdrop has given the White House a strong incentive to strike a defiant posture, at least rhetorically, in response to what would be an undeniable embarrassment for the president and his party.

Anyone who continues to pretend this isn’t an election with far reaching implications and a referendum on the agenda pushed by the President and Congressional Democrats needs to again review the place in which this Republican is leading. Those who would like to put it all on an unattractive candidate need to remember that candidate blew away her closest rival in a Democratic primary by 19 points. This isn’t just about Martha Coakley.

An upset by Republican Scott Brown would be covered in many quarters as a repudiation of Obama, especially after Obama’s last-ditch campaign appearance with Coakley 36 hours before the polls opened.

This is about an electorate that is increasingly uneasy about the path the federal government under the Democrats is taking. This is a reaction to the action of the last 364 days. And the timing couldn’t be any better:

A Massachusetts embarrassment would strongly increase the pressure Obama was already facing to retreat or slow down the “big bang” agenda he laid out a year ago.

That includes cap-and-trade, which Congressional Democrats are backing away from as quickly as they can, and immigration. What this should force, if Democrats can swallow the lesson and heed the consequences of a Brown win, is a shelving of those issues and a concentration on the economy like a “laser beam”.

The possibility that Democrats could avoid a blood bath in November is iffy at the moment but salvageable if they do that. If, however, they get combative and attempt to ram through the present agenda (as it appears they will) while continuing to giving lip service to the economy and job creation (shall we have another “job summit”?), then they’ll suffer the consequences in mid-terms 10 months from now.

Today’s election is a game changer. Even if Brown loses, the message should be clear – back off the spending and expansion of government, concentrate on the economy and do what is necessary to get this country moving again economically, or the voters will put people in who will, even in deep blue Massachusetts.

The polls opened 12 minutes ago – this should be a very interesting day.

~McQ

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Hail Mary

How scared are Senate Democrats that Martha Coakley will lose the special Senate seat election in Massachussetts tomorrow?  This scared.

The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders, scrambling for a backup plan to rescue their health care legislation if Republicans win the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday, have begun laying the groundwork to ask House Democrats to approve the Senate version of the bill and send it directly to President Obama for his signature.

Well, I’m sure if that’s gonna fly.

When the idea was suggested at a Democratic caucus meeting last week, Mr. [Bart] Stupak [D-MI] said, “It went over like a lead balloon.”

But, that was then.  This is now.