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Still up in the air or whistling past the graveyard?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, August 21, 2006

Donald Lambro thinks the midterms are still up in the air despite what some polls are saying:
Other pollsters are finding that no matter how negative voters are about the Republicans who control both houses of Congress, less than a majority think the Democrats would do a better job of governing. Moreover, many voters who say they will vote for a Democrat in November also say their vote is not definite.

"Only 41 percent of Americans believe that Democratic leaders in Congress 'would move the country in the right direction,' " Mark Preston, CNN's political editor, writes on the network's Web site. That is slightly less than the 43 percent of Americans who believe that Republican leaders in Congress 'would move the country in the right direction.' "

What this means, Mr. Preston said, is that "Democrats need to do a better job of convincing voters they are better equipped than Republicans to lead the Congress."

Pollsters say the election's outcome will be decided by the large number of independent voters, but Mr. Zogby found that most of them still do not know how they will vote.

"Among independents, 32 percent said they prefer Democrats in November, 20 percent said they prefer Republicans and 41 percent said they were undecided," he said.
This all rests on the ability of Republicans or Democrats to make this a national election and referendum on the job the party in power has done to this point (however voters finally decide to define "the job" in the privacy of the voting booth). Frankly it is more of an advantage for the Democrats to nationalize it than Republicans. For the most part I would think Republicans want to keep these district races for the House and State races for the Senate as much as possible. Otoh, nationalizing it might also have some advantages for them, especially pointing to who among Democrats would get leadership and chairmanship positions in a Democratically dominated Congress. That might be effective in turning out disaffected members of the base.

For Dems it's all good in making it a national referendum on the administration. If it is true that undecideds are as undecided as Zogby says (and frankly I have my doubts about that), that theme has more of a chance of converting the numbers Dems need to their side than does hundreds of local district races. They develop a national strategy (which is what this "New Direction for America" is supposed to be) and they sell it through appeals to give them the majority in Congress while sticking the knife in further and twisting it politically concerning the administration. That plays to the "generic Democrat" who's still running strong although Lambro doesn't seem to think that means much (and, frankly, I'm not sure it measures any more than slight preference at best):
In the meantime, despite the emphasis that TV and newspaper polls place on the so-called generic congressional vote — in which voters are asked which party they will support without naming candidates — a Newsweek poll last week found that very little knowledge went into these responses.

"Most Americans aren't paying attention to politics yet; 68 percent of registered voters say they have only given the November elections 'a little' or no attention," Newsweek said.
That's an important point we political junkies need to keep in mind. The majority of Americans may begin to really pay attention to all of this in mid October. Something I'd inject here, however, which seems to be overlooked for the most part. The fact they aren't thinking about or paying attention to the races doesn't mean that a good portion haven't made up their minds, generally, about how they're going to vote. I think this is glossed over a bit when we here things like "most Americans aren't paying attention to poltics yet." That may be true, but that's never stopped them from pretty much knowing who they were going to vote for even if they aren't sure why.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what strategy each party has coalesced behind down the stretch and what effect it has in November.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Yes, I think things are still quite in flux. For instance, I just read an article (I forget where) saying that since Rep. Ney announced he wasn’t running again (good idea), the Republicans actually have a decent shot in his Ohio district. Although it is a hard Republican district, apparently this is one of the seats the Democrats are counting on to take the House. Long way to go, still, until November and the Dems aren’t covering themselves with glory, just hoping that the anti-Bush vote will carry them. Very risky strategy, I think, especially in a treacherous, volatile world. If there is an Iraq exit strategy on the radar by then, who knows.
Written By: David Shaughnessy
. . . and because I enjoy arguing with myself, here’s the flip side. Bush stubbornly persists in a failed Iraq strategy, the country increasingly turns against it and him. Republican candidates, placed in an untenable position by their president, lose the House. Meanwhile, the NSA case wends its way into the Sixth Circuit, which again rules against Bush, meaning that Bush has been breaking the law for five years. Bush’s popularity sinks below 30. The Republicans distance themselves even further from a failed, lameduck president. House investigations into pre-war Iraq intelligence disclose manipulation by Administration officials. The House initiates impeachment proceedings.
Written By: David Shaughnessy
I thought pre-war intelligence was already investigated? What would be the use, other than to go on fishing expeditions, or to do cherry picking of their own?
Written By: h0mi
URL: http://
My fear is that the republicans will indeed keep both houses, and by a decent margin. Then that is actually the worse case because it means they will have no reason to return to their small government/fiscally responsible roots. Instead they will have an even worse F-U attitude towards their base, and so when the elections of 2008 show up there will be a bloodbath as the base stays home in droves.
Written By: kyle N
One of the most important polling factoids left out here is voter motivation. Over the last several cycles, Republicans were much more motivated to vote than Democrats. Every poll this cycle has shown the opposite. Because of that, Indies who vote, will vote Democrat. Indies who usually vote Republican will stay home. Republicans may or may not vote, but not enthusiastically as in 2004 or 2002. And Democrats will come out in record numbers.

A couple bellweathers show the trend. In Connecticut’s Democratic primary, a record 50% turned out. It isn’t the first time we had a contested Senatorial primary for an incumbent’s seat: think Specter-Toomey in 2004. That race got nothing like 50% turnout. Then there was the CA-50 race for Dukestir’s old seat. Despite much hemming and hawing from the leftwing blogosphere immediately after the election, an exit poll released much later showed that Democratic turnout was record high. GOP turnout was very low. And Independent turnout was extremely low. There just weren’t enough Democrats to carry that district. The real lesson might be that the "culture of corruption" theme convinced Indies not to vote at all. But I think this article is whistling past the graveyard. Yes, the Dems need to close the deal with many voters. But anger with Bush gets more and more intense every week. And much of it has to do with the war.
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
That’s quality analysis, Elrod. Easy to forget but voter turnout is what really matters since so few people vote.
Written By: David Shaughnessy

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