Wednesday, July 28, 2010

House Democrats head for a thumping at the polls

Michael Barone thinks that House Democrats head for a thumping at the polls:
Most signs suggest Democrats will take a thumping this year too.

To see why, take a look at the generic ballot question -- which party's candidate will you vote for in elections to the House? The current realclearpolitics.com average shows Republicans ahead by 45 to 41 percent. Ten of this month's 15 opinion polls asking the question had Republicans ahead; Democrats led in four (twice by 1 percent), and one poll showed a tie.

Keep in mind that the generic ballot question historically has tended to underpredict Republican performance in off-year elections. Gallup has been asking the question since 1950 and has shown Republicans leading only in two cycles, 1994 and 2002, and then by less than the 7 and 5 points by which they won the popular vote for the House in those years.

So the Republicans' current lead in the generic ballot question suggests they may be on the brink of doing better than in any election since 1946, when they won a 245-188 margin in the House -- larger than any they've held ever since.

From Michael's keyboard to God's eyes...

Seriously, though, this is not a shocking suggestion. I called it last fall, a year out from the election.
While a year can be a long time in politics, there are enough members of Congress who are clearly "dead men walking" at this point that they know this is the chance, the only chance, to get this health care plan passed. If it doesn't go through this Congress, it isn't going to happen. A new session starts in January, and there's just no way on God's earth that something as unpopular as this plan looks to be happens during an election year. The stimulus has been an economic disaster, and, in retrospect, a public relations disaster. The "cash for clunkers" program isn't a laughing-stock in all areas and with all sections of the electorate, but it is with enough people that it's a net negative for the powers that be.

The Democrats may be able to keep the House of Representatives next November, but it's not a great bet, and they are almost assured of losing enough seats to make this kind of package impossible to pass again. The Democrats will almost certainly keep the Senate, but probably not with a filibuster-proof majority.

Nothing that's happened since I wrote that last October has changed the outlook for this coming November. Well, nothing's changed the direction of the outlook - if anything, the Democrats have made their situation much worse. At this point, I'll be surprised (and extremely upset) if the Republicans don't take back the house, and while they probably won't take the Senate, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Certainly, the filibuster-proof 60 will be long gone, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a 52-48 kind of Senate.

But there are still three months to go...

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