NDN Blog

Rothenberg Says Odds Are Dems Will Take Senate

The latest Rothenberg ratings are out. With normal warnings about chickens, hatching, counting, and so forth, its very good news. Here are some key quotes:

  • The Senate: "While Senate control is in doubt, with Democrats most likely to win from 5 to 7 seats, we do not think the two sides have an equal chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, we believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate."
  • The House: "Going into the final days before the 2006 midterm elections, we believe the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible. This would put Democrats at between 237 and 243 seats, if not a handful more, giving them a majority in the next House that is slightly larger than the one the Republicans currently hold. If these numbers are generally correct, we would expect a period of GOP finger-pointing and self-flagellation after the elections, followed by a considerable number of Republican House retirements over the next two years."
  • Governors: "With Republican seats like Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada in play for state-specific reasons, and Minnesota vulnerable to a Democratic wave, the ceiling for possible Democratic gains is high. We have narrowed our earlier projection from Democratic gains of 6-10 to 7-9." 

Two Excellent "Where Are We At" Roundups.

A really excellent, heartening update on the polls from Ruy Teixeira over the equally excellent, data-rich Democratic strategist blog. Its very rich, but this is the gist of his points; 

When I last checked in about the state of the race--about ten days ago--things looked pretty good for the Democrats. Now they look even better..... Take the generic congressional contest, for example. In the nine polls finished since 10/20 that are listed on PollingReport.com, the Democrats' average lead is 14 points......National polls continue to confirm a very wide lead for Democrats among independent voters.... The Pew data show huge swings toward the Democrats among many important voter groups including seniors, middle income voters, non-college educated voters, whites, rural residents, married moms, white Catholics--the list goes on and on. In effect, these shifts have turned yesterday's swing voters into Democratic groups and many of yesterday's Republican groups into swing voters.... The political scientists' forecasting model prediction of 32 seats doesn't see so far-fetched in light of these data.....the GOP turnout machine is overrated and is simply not capable of turning defeat into victory in the manner alleged by GOP operatives.....

And - getting completely ahead of ourselves for a minute - the sage political analyst Larry Sabato raises the prospect of a shut out, in which Republicans win nothing at all. And as someone who works in Virginia, i'm taking as significant the fact that Sabato is tipping Jim Webb over George Allen too.

Virginia - Toss-up - Jim Webb (D) will unseat Sen. George Allen (R). Of course we're not counting him out altogether, but Allen's slow self-destruction has been nothing short of breathtaking, and we at the Crystal Ball are still somewhat shocked to find ourselves at the epicenter of the fight for the Senate....

The whole post is excellent, and worth reading. 

The Missing Linc (or the strange death of Rockefeller Republicanism)

New TAP supremo Harold Meyerson had a piece in yesterday's Post i meant to put up, if only for this frankly jaw slackening quote from Susan Collins.

Most of the House seats that the Democrats are expected to take from Republicans are in the Northeast and industrial Midwest, heartland of the old Republican Party of Lincoln, McKinley and Eisenhower. Many of the Republicans holding these seats are a distinct minority in a party now dominated by Southerners who are more supportive of executive branch authoritarianism and yet also more government-phobic. And the Republican moderates, judging by their own comments, are boiling mad that the Democrats are going after them. "There is no one who has voted more often with the Democrats than Linc Chafee," Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, told the New York Times of her Rhode Island colleague, who is trailing Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in the polls. "Yet that didn't stop them from going after him with everything they had."

Right. Riiiiiiiight. Of course she is correct. Sensible democrats do prefer Chafee republicans to, say, Brownback republicans. That said, reflect on the cheek of it. After 8 years of being divided, wedged, spun, polarized, split up, pilloried and pounded by a Republican attack machine that asks and receives no quarter - hell, not even a nickle - Collins has the gall to criticize Democrats for going on the attack? Its enough to leave one stammering in amazement. Anyway - i've heard Simon over the last two days say that this is the "last election of the 20th century" and in this sense at least he is dead on. There is a different politics coming. You can see it, as this WSJ piece from yesterday notes, in the battle for the Mountain West:

Despite a Republican edge in registration, Democrats are discovering the Mountain West — and Colorado in particular — to be a new political frontier as the party benefits from a potent mix of changing demographics, anger over the war in Iraq, resentment toward conservative social initiatives and millions of dollars’ worth of advocacy advertising.

But in addition to these signs of the future we also have signs of the past. This election is about the cosolidation, the close of business, of an older sort of American politics - with the GOP being further wiped out in the north, Democrats winning in the rust-belt, conservatives holding firm in the south, and so forth. And if that means that the Democrats are taking out the last of the Rockerfeller Republicans, the Republican party only have themselves to blame.

Election Blogging in the UK

A few of you might have picked up from my unusually vowel-filled spelling and odd choice of vocabulary that not everyone here at NDN is 100% American born. Let it never be said this organization is not generous in support for immigrants of all sorts. Anyway, i've been writing about the election in a few places back home in the UK, and thought i might link to them. (Full disclosure: i write these in an individual capacity, and do not speak for NDN as a whole in any sense whatsoever.) Yesterday i had a piece on the Guardian site about the whole unfortunate Kerry brouhaha. The gist of my piece was in the headline - "Kerry's gaffe was cringe-making, but the response of the Republican attack dogs shows how bankrupt the Bush administration now is." Quote:

Iraq is going to hell in a hand basket. The median American family is more than $1,000 a year worse off than it was in 2000. American health care is broken. The country is falling in the world education rankings. Global warming is going to hobble the world economy, if not end life on earth. And the Republicans really think they can win an election by attacking John Kerry? One is reminded of the tawdry fictional dictators of Huxley or Orwell, always tilting at imaginary enemies to motivate the people and bolster their crumbling regimes. There could be no more telling epitaph for the failure of conservative governance.

I'm also blogging over at the Progress blog. Progress is, basically, the British equivalent of NDN. Its what we over the pond would call a "ginger group" for the Blarite wing of the Labour Party of which i consider myself a member. Anyway, here is the latest, on the under-reported news of the Senate actually being in play following positive polls from Virginia:

Anyway, if I read the polls correctly, it is now just possible that the Democrats could win all of their competitive Senate races bar Tennessee. Doing this would take back the Senate. Is it likely? No, I think probably not. We have the turnout issue. We have the GOP's kick-ass GOTV issue. We have the Republican financial advantage issue. And we have the possibility of some other big news event coming Kerry-style and ruining another few days of the news cycle. But we must remember that if these races go into election roughly even, theory and history expect late-breaking and independent voters to go 2:1 for change.

If anyone thinks there is something about these elections my fellow limeys need to know, drop me a line........

A Warning on The Turnout Issue

Talk is turning to turnout this week, and the issue of motivation has been popping up. Ken Mellman recently put out a memo saying that there wasn't a motivation gap, and that the Republican base is as fired up as ever. Common sense suggests this is unlikely. Time will tell. Nonetheless, there is a danger that the turnout figure overall will be taken as some sort of proxy for a measure of voter enthusiasm. For instance, in low turnout polls where Democrats don't win, expect turnout to be blamed on "democrats who had nothing to vote for", or somethign similar. For that reason this piece, hidden away on the Washington Post's "Think Tank town" section, is a very useful corrective. It argues sensibly that turnout is going to be down - way down - not just on 2004 but on 1994 and other congressional years. Why? At least part of it will be the fault of Republican redistricting, which has significantly reduced the number of competitive districts. (Turnout is lower if voters don't think they influence the outcome.) But part of it is just the way the cycle has panned out. Arnold looks very likely to win in CA, while the word "win" doesn't really do justice to the spanking that Elliot Spitzer is meeting out to whoever his Republican opponent is in New York. The fact of these two states having no state wide competitive race will depress national turnout considerably. 

The fault is not on the voters; people's lives are busy, and a rational person will abstain when their vote does not matter to the election outcome. The political parties also are sensitive to competition and focus their limited resources where elections are competitive... The old adage of "build it and they will come" is relevant. All but hardcore sports fans tune out a blowout. Building competitive elections -- and giving voters real choices -- will do much to increase voter turnout in American politics. There are a number of reforms on the table: redistricting to create competitive districts, campaign financing to give candidates equal resources, and even altering the electoral system to fundamentally change how a vote elects representatives....

As a foreigner in this country, it has always seemed to me that the American system of politicized redistricting (as opposed to the impartial quasi-judicial system in most European countries) is little short of crazy. Here is just one more reason why. Lets hope someone fixes it before there aren't any competitive races left. 


George Will on George Allen

George Will is my kind of Conservative. And this is a lovely piece of writing. More generally, it is such good news that Jim Webb seems to be ahead. I repeat: Jim Webb is ahead. Anyone in the NDN community who can support his campaign shoud do so. He ran a positive campaign. He ran on the issues. He will be an asset to the Dems in the House on security for a generation. And we will all feel awful if we wake next wednesday and find he lost by a couple of hundred votes.

But Allen, who makes no secret of finding life as a senator tedious, is fighting ferociously for another term, a fate from which his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, is close to rescuing him. As a result, Allen is dabbling in literary criticism. He has read, or someone has read for him, at least some of Webb's six fine novels, finding therein sexual passages that have caused Allen -- he of the football metaphors, cowboy regalia and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco -- to blush like a fictional Victorian maiden and fulminate like an actual Victorian man, Anthony Comstock, the 19th-century scourge of sin who successfully agitated for New York and federal anti-obscenity statutes and is credited with the destruction of 160 tons of naughty printed matter and pictures.

Happy Halloween from all at NDN

(Via Kos.)

Today's Krugman Speech - Good Times are Over.

In addition to Rob's remarks, Paul Krugman gave the keynote at today's New America conference. I don't know if his speech is being released, but i took some notes here. His view is that the biggest problems are housing and the trade deficit, and that he sides with the pessimists in the national debate. He was especially interesting on how to respond. (I stress these are notes from his remarks, not a transcript. So please don't treat them as verbatim.)

The thing to be worried about is the difficulty of a policy response. We normally count on the Fed to respond. (Bernanke, on the whole, has had his judgment on rates vindicated.) But if this turns nasty, what will the Fed do? They will cut rates. And will this help? Where is the traction on the real economy? The problem is that rate cuts stimulate the economy mostly through the housing and construction market. In truth, business investment is not sensitive to the Fed and consumers don’t respond. Housing is where the rubber meets the road. So that is a worry.

The gist of his remarks, and others at the conference, were not encouraging. There seemed to be consensus that growth would decline, while unemployment would rise by roughly a percentage point, over the coming year. So even if there isn't a recession it, in Krugman's words, will feel like there is one. And, as we've been saying for a while here, this will become the first expansion since the Great Depression without a rise in wages or incomes. Indeed, it seems the economic good times are over - before they really began.

Lou Dobbs: Wrong, wrong and thrice wrong

I was at an economics conference today - of which more later - in which Paul Krugman said he wasn't all that worried about what he called the "Lou Dobbsification" of the American economy. Dobbs has another book out, so we can expect to see more of him frothing, foaming, raging, rallying and - damn it! - standing up for the little guy, swaggering by with a full arsenal of economic bungles almost certain to make the little guy, and the little guy's children, worse off. Timely, then, that the pen of Peter Beinart is let loose on the man today:

Who is the most left-wing commentator on mainstream television? Keith Olbermann? Bill Maher? Not even close. I'm talking about a man who says both parties are "bought and paid for by corporate America," and calls lobbyists "arms dealers in the war on the middle class." This latter-day William Jennings Bryan denounces the "corporate supremacists" in Congress who write "consumer-crippling" bankruptcy laws, pass job-exporting free-trade deals, and raise the interest on college loans.... I refer, of course, to Lou Dobbs..... To some degree, the left's response has been to treat Dobbs as two different people. In August, in an article devoted to Dobbs's immigration rants, The Nation accused him of "hysteria and jingoism" and called him "McCarthyesque." By contrast, Mother Jones, in 2005, published a friendly interview with the man it called "mad as hell about offshore outsourcing and faith-based economics."


Niall Ferguson on "A Failed Presidency"

Niall Ferguson is a high profile right wing Harvard historian. He argues that the problem Iraq is not of competence or strategy, but of will. His view is that America is an empire, and it should behave as such. This means putting in many more troops, and being less squeemish about using them. In short, he was not averse to the concept of Bush's adventuring abroad, even if he thinks he should take them more seriously. Yet this is what he had to say of the President in an article today:

Today, however, the joke is on them. For the Redneck Horn could now just as easily be used by ordinary Americans to express their frustration not merely with Mr Bush but with the entire Republican Party. With a little over a week remaining until the congressional mid-term elections on November 7, some opinion polls indicate that "You're a goddam moron!" is precisely the message voters intend to send the White House. Certainly, "freaking blind" sums up the majority view of the administration's policy in Iraq. And, after the bewildering scandals that have ended the careers of three Republican congressmen in the space of six months, Americans have any number of reasons to ask their elected representatives: "What the hell was that manoeuvre?"

Its a very good piece, worth reading through.

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