Tea Leaves

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Wow, it seems like everybody is jumping in right now and predicting what is going to happen on November 7th. Depending on who you're reading at the moment, it is either the Greatest Landslide In Political History Ever™ or not so much. Ed Morrisey is optimistic that the Republican majority will hold, but predicts it is going to be close.

 I'm inclined to lean towards Dafydd's analysis, which you should read in full. The GOP will no doubt lose seats in the midterms, but I'm not sure that the Democrats have enough momentum to wrest control of either chamber. The Senate races are more of a national campaign, but the Democrats have to pick up six seats — and they're likely going to lose New Jersey, which makes that difficult. They could lose Maryland as well; Steele's close to Cardin and the GOTV efforts there will make the difference. Mike DeWine has rebounded against Sherrod Brown in Ohio, but that's a day-to-day thing at best.

In the House, the effort seems even more difficult. RCP identifies the most likely districts for Republican losses, but after the first seven, it seems the rest are within the margin of error in the polling. House races are fought on a more local basis than national, and the Democrats really haven't defined a national electoral strategy in any case. On a district-by-district basis, it's hard to read a massive tide of blue into the numbers that RCP has in contested House races.

He is also looking at Dafydd's analysis over at Big Lizards (which you should read, it is very well thought out).

This is dicey, of course; I very much hope that the polling trend continues, with the Foley follies continuing to exeunt stage left, and national security, terrorism, North Korea, lower gasoline and heating prices, and the robust economy seizing center stage. (I'm still amazed that the Foley imbroglio has helped the Democrats at all: after all, if your big fear is that gay congressmen might have sex scandals with the pages, the solution cannot possibly be to elect more Democrats!)

One person who was good enough to link me when I had almost nobody reading this blog was My Election Analysis and I think he has something that is extremely insightful over there:

MW, however, shows a Republican party on the brink of disaster – the type of result you’d expect to see in a year where they lead in the generic 55%-45%. So the question is, if other races have shifted so far against incumbents who won big in ’04, then why isn’t PA-06 a blowout? I think the answer is this, and it is a stunning one: I think Democrats have moved a section of voters who are in heavily Republican districts. My guess – and it is only a guess — is that it is rural voters. That would normally be fantastic news for Democrats, and the death knell for Republicans.

The problem here for Democrats is the same problem with the 50-state strategy: We don’t have a parliamentary democracy. In our country, votes are cast by district. This has its plusses and minuses, but one of the definite minuses is that it is possible to come in at 49.9 of the national vote, and still lose every seat in the House (one major plus is that it weakens parties). Thus, if Democrats dislodge a chunk of the electorate that votes in heavily Republican districts, it does not automatically translate to seat gains. To put it another way, Democrats get more of a result from expending the resources to knock Gerlach down 2 points than they do expending the resources to knock Leach down 10.

Indeed, huge discrepancies between the popular vote and the vote in Congress are the historical rule, rather than the exception. Consider Table 2. When I was in college, an earlier edition of this was shown to me as proof the Republicans would never be able to take over Congress. The two-party vote simply doesn’t line up with vote share in Congress. In 1950, Republicans won more votes for Congress, but only held 54% of the seats. The discrepancy has gotten as high as favoring the Democrats by 12%. In 1956, ’70, ‘76 and ’88, Republicans actually did better in the two-party vote than the preceding year, and yet they still lost seats.

Thus, the name of the game isn’t just competing in your opponent’s districts. You have to actually be able to get to 50% in those districts. And this is both the peril and the promise for the Democrats. If the Majority Watch polling is right, Democrats have succeeded in making a number of districts very close that would not have otherwise been close. The problem for Democrats is, they have not sealed the deal in districts that they should have long ago sealed up if they are at 55% of the overall vote. This year could turn into a blowout for Democrats, or it could be a major-league disappointment, as narrow race after narrow race falls to the Republicans. Time will tell.

I think that is a very, very good analysis of what is happening right now. It may or may not be what it looks like. It almost certainly is not what the cheerleaders in the MSM would have everyone believe it is.

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3 Responses to Tea Leaves

  1. Pingback: Alabama Liberation Front

  2. Pingback: Blue Crab Boulevard » Blog Archive » Widespread Panic?

  3. Black Jack says:

    Election results are nearly always quite a bit closer than either polls or pundits predict. Mid-term elections are decided by turnout, the party which motivates its adherents to vote will win.

    Forget about so-called independents and undecideds, there’s no such thing, and there really haven’t been all that many around for years. The electorate is polarized, it’s us vs them, a grown up game of the shirts against the skins, and the devil takes the hindmost.

    Dems and their MSM propaganda wing are in overdrive attempting to suppress GOP turnout. During the last election it was Dan Rather and his bogus documents, this time it’s Tom Foley and his smutty emails.

    Dems support “get out the vote campaigns” as long as it’s their voters getting to the polls, all others are subject to manipulation, suppression, dirty tricks, and organized efforts to invalidate ballots.

    Go to the polls and vote, or make sure your abscentee ballot is in on time. Your vote counts, now more than ever.

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