Captain's Quarters Blog

« Supreme Court To Rethink Abortion Limits | Main | 'Europeans So Desperately Want The Democrats To Win' »

November 7, 2006
The Times Signals A Retreat

Adam Nagourney tries to lower expectations a bit in today's New York Times, dashing cold water on some of the more enthusiastic predictions for today's elections. He also notes that those inflated expectations may lead to a big let-down in the ranks of Democrats -- and a round of recriminations as well:

In most midterm elections, an out-of-power party picking up, say, 14 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate could call it a pretty good night.

But for Democrats in 2006, that showing would mean coming up one seat shy of taking control of both the Senate and the House. And it would probably be branded a loss — in the case of the House, a big one.

For a combination of reasons — increasingly bullish prognostications by independent handicappers, galloping optimism by Democratic leaders and bloggers, and polls that promise a Democratic blowout — expectations for the party have soared into the stratosphere. Democrats are widely expected to take the House, and by a significant margin, and perhaps the Senate as well, while capturing a majority of governorships and legislatures.

These expectations may well be overheated. Polls over the weekend suggested that the contest was tightening, and some prognosticators on Monday were scaling back their predictions, if ever so slightly. (Charlie Cook, the analyst who is one of Washington’s chief setters of expectations, said in an e-mail message on Monday that he was dropping the words “possibly more” from his House prediction of “20-35, possibly more.”)

In fact, a midterm switch of 35-40 seats would hardly be unprecedented. Such "waves" occurred in the second midterms of Eisenhower, Nixon/Ford, and Reagan. The only reason it didn't for Clinton was because he had his wave in the first midterm election in 1994.

Thus, the big expectations seemed reasonable when initially formed. However, even with the GOP having its share of problems this cycle, the numbers simply don't support it. Real Clear Politics has been tracking House races for quite a while, and identifies only 47 GOP seats as competitive, as opposed to 6 districts for the Democrats. 20 of the GOP seats lean to the GOP, which makes only 27 of them really at risk -- and the Democrats have to win more than half of them to take control of the House.

That being said, they have a good shot at doing just that. However, while that would give them the House majority, it might be an almost unworkable one, especially if the GOP retains control of the Senate. It's a prescription for gridlock, a massive kicking of the can to 2008, when the presidency is the prize. That isn't what the Democrats want, and in fact it would give them the worst of both worlds. They would have to formulate policy and go on the record with their platform, and then sit and watch it flounder for two years as conservative Democrats who win in this cycle pull the plug on tax hikes and spending sprees.

And that's if they can win a majority.

Either way, the Democrats will find themselves in a fix. If the above happens, the party will wind up making itself more vulnerable to a switchback in 2008 and handicap themselves for the presidential run. If they do not win a majority, especially in the House, the party will tear itself apart in a hail of recriminations and petty political vendettas. Democrats have had it pretty easy for the last six years, being able to sit outside of the governing process and gainsaying the GOP without formulating any specific policies of their own. It's going to get ugly from here if they cannot win substantial majorities in both chambers in today's elections.

UPDATE: Rick Moran highlights the Lucky 13 that could signal a Republican hold on power in the House.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 7, 2006 6:12 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Times Signals A Retreat:

» Mid-Term '06. The Final Countdown. Liveblogging from The Right Nation
Sono le ore finali della campagna elettorale negli Stati Uniti. Seguiremo fino a notte inoltrata, in rigoroso liveblogging, le fasi finali dello scontro tra repubblicani e democratici. L'aggiornamento del post avver in ordine cronologico inverso (l'... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2006 9:10 AM

» The Times Signals A Retreat from Bill's Bites
The Times Signals A RetreatEd Morrissey Adam Nagourney tries to lower expectations a bit in today's New York Times, dashing cold water on some of the more enthusiastic predictions for today's elections. He also notes that those inflated expectations may [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2006 9:34 AM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!