May 28, 2006
The Midterms: Where are We Now?
by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math
Since the Paul Hackett's run at the OH-2 seat last August, we haven't had any elections that can usefully gauge whether or not dissatisfaction with Bush runs deep enough to cause dissatisfaction with Washington Republicans as a whole. We also don't have much information on the shape of public dissatisfaction with Republicans. Is Bush losing support in Orange County & Waco Texas, bringing the Republican margin from 80% down to 60%, while keeping enough support in Connecticut and upstate New York to let Reps like Chris Shays (R-CT) and Peter King (R-NY) skate by? Or are there enough districts that have swing from Red to Blue to take back the House?
The best we can do is look at who's bothering to turn out in primary elections, and the few pieces of district-level polling that are publicly available. In the primaries, the news has been encouraging. For instance, in IN-2, IN-8, and IN-9, Democratic challengers all scored victories over Republican incumbents, based on the number of ballots drawn. Likewise, Bob Casey , Jr. seems to be dragging his party to victory in Pennsylvania, scoring "wins" over two incumbents and making over a half-dozen races more competitive. In most elections, Republican turnout does seem to be down from historical norms, and Democratic turnout is up. But not all the news is good news. Democracy Corps' polling, which focuses on the far end of what one might consider a "competitive" race, shows only the tiniest bit of movement towards Democrats.
So at the moment, we can't forecast a tremendous takeover in November. The odds look good for significant Democratic gains, but perhaps only enough to take back the House by the slimmest of margins, if at all. Francine Busby's (D) June 6th special election in CA-50 will give everyone a bit more hard data.
One key thing that the numerous polls over the last six months do highlight: the independents now have preferences that are just barely different than registered Democrats. But will they vote?
November 06 is the real test of the Rovian model for long-term Republican dominance. All the Rove-standard tricks will be deployed: viciously attacking the opposing Dem. candidates as bad people, avoiding talking about issues; Fear, more fear, and greater fear; phony 'values' issues pushing out discussion of real national issues; arousing the radical religious right to fear their destruction; threatening the corpcons with the loss of their gravy train of tax breaks, insider deals, non-regulatory regulatory policy; and on and on. Rove will feed the media stenos with story after story that make the Dems marginal. Are we prepared for this? I don't think so.
Lies and half-truths and distorted information.
Rove had a big quiver full of arrows, and we have no chain mail.
In spite of all of the above, I sense a tide that is going out for the Repubs. I think many (perhaps most) of the now close races will turn for the Dems. Whether that will make a difference in governance is yet unclear.
Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 28, 2006 8:34:52 PM
Don't forget the ads running Cantwell/Klobuchar/McCaskill/Casey/Brown/Nelson/et al's faces next to Ahmadinejad's this October.
Posted by: Chris | May 28, 2006 8:51:46 PM
I wouldn't take even a little signficance from the Pennsylvania primary results. I live in Curt Weldon's district PA-7, and I didn't vote. Sestak was unopposed and Casey was unopposed, and there weren't any other local offices to care about. It's true that Weldon outpolled Sestak by 2-1 in the 2006 primary, but that doesn't mean that Weldon will win 2-1 in the general election. Weldon outpolled the unopposed Democrat by 5-1 in the 2004 primary, and ended up winning the general election (albeit against a different opponent) by a lot less: 58%/40%.
Posted by: David Weigel | May 28, 2006 9:56:43 PM
Like I said, it's not clear just how much we can learn from the PA primary. But there weren't really any contested top-ticket races. So I'm just interpreting the results as a combination of (a) Pennsylvanians love Bob Casey & Sons, and (b) Republicans aren't that excited about getting to the polls. Overall, it looks like the Democrats made gains. But Lois Murphy & Joe Sestak made fewer gains than most.
Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | May 28, 2006 10:42:46 PM
I agree about CA-50. I don't think a win is neccessary to show the tide. The locals here will go for familiarity if there's nothing more "down to earth". I don't know what will be the number that is the crossing point, but I do believe it's below a win.
Posted by: Killer | May 28, 2006 11:40:15 PM
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