That the Democratic Party will lose seats in the Senate and the House is now received wisdom across the political spectrum. Forget received. It’s been filed, stamped, indexed and displayed.
According to two key observers, Charlie Cook and 538.com’s Nate Silver, “Democrats are in hot water, according to political analysts quoted in Monday’s Politico. Democrats are poised to lose ‘double-digit’ seats in the House amid an increasingly bitter political climate.”
Oh, no! Nate Silver is never wrong!
Matt Yglesias sees blood in the tea leaves too: “Because the whole House turns over every two years, to merely sustain a large Democratic majority requires an overwhelmingly favorable political climate. Since Democrats clearly don’t have such a climate, they’re facing massive losses.”
So, why is the sky falling? The poor economy and high unemployment numbers are the most cited factors. The first election after a new president takes office is also traditionally a bad time for that president’s party.
The above article cited a more arcane factor. It says the normal state of Congress is a slight Republican advantage because of the way districts are drawn up. So, the stars have to be heavily in alignment for the Democrats to keep such a large edge.
All these theories assume the electorate is a vast unthinking blob. “Oh the economy sucks so it’s the president’s or the current Congress’ fault. History started this year.” Or even better “I voted for the president last year and now I’m sick of him and his party so now I’ll vote for the other guys.” I don’t remember things happening quite this way in 2002. There was a recession and a newly elected Republican president and the Republicans cleaned up in the midterm elections.
Now, you might think that the economy was a mess when Democrats got full control, and they could certainly have done more, but they’ve taken some steps – the cash for clunkers program, the stimulus bill. Does anyone other than the most deranged Tea Partiers believe the Republicans would have done more to correct the situation? If you get all your news from Fox (or even CNN!) you might have some pretty misguided notions of why the economy is the way it is now. But if you’re anyone else and the Democrats manage to present their case coherently they should have a chance with you.
After all the promise of hope and change, not much has happened on most other fronts. This is the real problem affecting the Democrats. All those volunteers who came out for Obama and Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are going to have a hard time motivating themselves this time. But in the House of Representatives, where the biggest bloodbath is supposed to occur, a supposedly vulnerable Congressman could point out that Democrats have passed almost 300 pieces of legislation that the Senate has not acted on – yes, because of weak Democratic leadership, but primarily because of Republican obstruction.
Democrats could take heart in demographic trends that seem to be going their way: In every category you can name: age, race, economic status, geography, education, Republicans are heading further and further into minority status.
Of course, everybody knows Democrats can turn any winning situation into a loss, see Martha Coakley or Creigh Deeds. But if Democrats run aggressive candidates, who clearly articulate why they are Democrats and what’s wrong with the conservative philosophy and point out how it played out from 2000-2008, they will be fine.
Now, why would I want to cheerlead for Democrats? No one is more cognizant or despairing of their faults. But even Noam Chomsky admits that voting for the lesser of two evils is the thing to do. Now there’s a rousing campaign theme!