Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"It Was a Thumpin'"

Normally I don’t let Dubya write my titles, but he summed up Election Day perfectly during his press conference – it was indeed a “thumpin’”. At this point it looks like the Democrats picked up 29 seats in the House and at least 5 in the Senate, with a slim lead in the key sixth Senate seat in VA.
Looking back at my predictions from Monday, I was clearly fooled a bit by late polling numbers. The especially curious RI numbers, which seemed to be meaningless, headed the list, with MD and TN not far behind. What could have caused these anomalies? TN might be illustrative. Nearly 40% of the votes in TN were cast early. Is it possible that early voters simply refuse to answer polling questions after they have already voted? Most observers felt the early voters were going to be a positive for Ford, since his voters were worried about trouble at the polls. That would explain the discrepancy between the final result there and the late polling data. Perhaps the same thing applies to the other two – it’s very clear that the late move by Chafee which showed up in several polls simply didn’t happen. In any case, my individual state analysis proved more accurate than my random variance split, so we basically swept things. Sometimes you flip a coin four times and it comes up four heads. As for the House, the late GOP surge reflected in many polls didn’t happen either. As I said, if I was predicting last Friday, I would have been at 235 +/- 3, but late polls scared me a bit. Along with early voting, the problem there might have been figuring out who the likely voters were. The big shift in generic numbers really occurred in alleged likely voters, not registered voters.

Winners and Losers:

Winners

Nancy Pelosi – Madam Speaker. You know, for a politician to know that all history books in the future will record her as the first female Speaker of the House has to be mighty humbling – and damned exciting. She’ll do a good job, since she’s a first-rate politician and really good at getting the troops together. Interesting tidbit: she’s the first Speaker from the most populous state since before the Civil War.

Hillary Clinton – Pelosi’s ascension to Speaker will get the American people used to seeing a woman in power, this can only help her Presidential ambitions. And if the Dems have the Senate, Hillary has another option – replacing Harry Reid as Majority Leader when he steps down in two years, as is expected.

Independent Voters – Even in non-swing districts, they showed they were numerous and flexible enough to turn them over. It will be easier for Democrats to appeal to them than Republicans, who are in bed with the religious right (figuratively, of course).

Howard Dean – His 50-state strategy angered some and was mocked by many, but he was right. Dems won 3 seats in Indiana, 2 in NH, 2 in Iowa, and single seats in KY, NC, AZ, and even Kansas. Not only that, there are districts in NE, ID, and WY where nearly half the people voted for a Democrat, which lays the groundwork for the future. In the last week the Republicans were forced to send Bush and money to NE and KS, and that also didn’t hurt the cause.

Blue Dog Democrats – The conservative wing of the party is much bigger than before and both Speaker Pelosi and the GOP minority will have to deal with them.

Heath Shuler – Won the seat in NC, the poster boy for the new generation of southern Democrat, socially conservative, but choosing the Democrats because they actually believe in helping the little guy. Given his past history as Redskins QB, is likely to either be sacked on the way into the Capitol, or have his first vote picked off by Republican he didn’t notice.

Rahm Emanuel/Chuck Schumer – The architects of victory. Emanuel should end up in leadership in the House. Schumer, responsible for finding candidates like Brown, Webb, Tester, and McCaskill, may have more trouble finding an appropriate reward, as Hillary could get in his way.

Losers

Karl Rove – Rovey, you’re doing a heck of a job. The strategy of emphasizing your base at the expense of the middle failed.

Donald Rumsfeld – Rummy, you’re doing...oh hell, go away, everyone hates you, Democrats, Republicans, soldiers. More on him tomorrow.

George W. Bush – Duh.

Dennis “Fat Denny” Hastert – Double duh.

Mitch McConnell – May not even get the big office, let alone the power in the Senate.

House Republican Moderates – After yesterday, they can caucus in a phone booth (a reference which will be meaningless in a few years). This could be a long-term problem for the party, as conservatives have a big edge in most party primaries and moderates have the edge in general elections. Democratic incumbents will be tougher to beat from the right.

Gay Rights – In state after state, anti-gay marriage amendments passed easily. Look for the Republicans in Congress to raise a Marriage Amendment just so the Dems can stop it.

So will Bush govern from the middle the next two years? Will he reach out and be a uniter, not a divider? Here’s another quote from Dubya from today’s press conference, when asked how he explained the electoral disaster. “I thought when all was said and done, the American people would recognize the importance of taxes and the importance of security”. So apparently, we were just too dumb to understand the world and that’s why we voted for Democrats. Way to reach out and bring us together, Asshole-in-chief.

4 Comments:

Blogger Ralph said...

"Hillary Clinton – Pelosi’s ascension to Speaker will get the American people used to seeing a woman in power, this can only help her Presidential ambitions."

Bzzzt. C'mon-- has the pundit class really gotten so drunk on the Kool-Aid that it drowns in its own naivete? Pelosi's ascension to Speaker is probably the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling a viable Hillary Clinton candidacy.

Voters in Middle America have already been balking at the prospect of electing Hillary Rodham Clinton alone-- now, for 2008, they'd be facing the prospect of a Hillary Clinton Presidency coupled with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. If anything, Pelosi is likely to not be admired, but instead be a lightning rod for the GOP attack hounds, who will then send their swarms of locusts in Hillary Clinton's direction.

Basically, in the eyes of Peoria, a Hillary win would mean that both the Executive and Legislative branches would be led by (in their eyes) far left liberals from the leftist bastions of the Northeast and San Francisco. IOW, IAGH (it ain't gonna happen). And it doesn't matter that Hillary's been trying to "triangulate" lately-- she'll never convince conservatives and Independents that she's anything but a hard-left liberal, and in the process she's even managing to piss off the core of the Democrat Party themselves (they're never forgiving her for Iraq).

The Dems should realize this now, otherwise there's gonna be a Republican landslide in 2008 more humiliating than anything since Mondale brought them such joy in 1984.

3:02 AM  
Blogger samG said...

A few comments:

1. I can't quite understand why the Dems didn't do better in the House races in Ohio, given the overwhelming victories in the Senate and Governor races. Who'd thunk they would have done better in the Indiana races than Ohio?

2. A clear winner had to be minimum wage, initiatives that won with 65-75% on every ballot where it appeared.

3. I'm not convinced that the Dems won due to moderate/conservative candidates. For every Heath Shuler, there was a liberal somewhere else. It seems clear from exit polling that Dems won because of opposition to the war in Iraq (a position that has no clear liberal/conservative approach) and "the economy" which, unless you benefit from rises in the Dow, is not perceived to be going well in Tom Friedman's flat world and is a more liberal view.

3. The idea that Hillary is a 'far out' liberal is almost laughable. Where is the evidence of that (abortion, Iraq, video games). Hillary received 67% of the vote in NY including upstate counties that are as red as any in Nebraska. The contempt for Hillary, which remains palpable, has virtually nothing to do with her philosophy and almost everything to do with the perception that she slept her way to the White House and, once there, exercised power to which she was neither entitled nor competent to handle.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

Ralph
Thanks for adding to the discussion. Hillary is already a lightning rod for GOP attacks, so Pelosi won't add to that. The misperception of Hillary as a far left liberal is not going to be changed for the worse by having Pelosi there. I believe there is still a governance threshhold that many Americans have for women, which is where I think Pelosi being an effective speaker helps her. Watching a woman in charge of the House, being the voice of a party, and getting positive legislation passed, can only help the general image of women as leaders. The Democrats in the House will pass legislation (minimum wage increase, bulk drug purchases by Medicare) widely favored by Americans. Pelosi's a first-rate politician and will be credited for both success and moderation.
As for Hillary, with the Dems taking control of the Senate, I think she may choose to be the next Majority Leader. I actually think that would be the better choice for her, but she may disagree. Of course, I'm not that big a Hillary fan myself, being something of a liberal, I consider her a centrist, like her husband.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

Sam

1. I don't understand that either -- sometimes politics is local.
2. Yes, which is why it will be the first legislation passed by the new Congress and Bush will sign it in a "spirit of cooperation".
3. In general it was Iraq, but in many districts it was "corruption". Emanuel and Pelosi went out of their way to pick candidates that fit their districts politically. So conservative districts yielded conservative candidates. The Blue Dog Caucus has already talked about this being big as have all commentators. Remember, in electoral politics perception is reality.
3a. I agree with your assessment of Hillary, but again, in politics, perception is reality and she is perceived as being very liberal -- I give you that font of common wisdom, Chris Matthews, as exhibit A.

10:55 AM  

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