Saturday, November 11, 2006

Joke of the Weekend

Lincoln Chafee may bolt parties.

Sure. Like that matters.

Walter Mondale could become a Republican. That's more likely to make a difference in someone's life.

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Pence's Pitch

This is the 'vision document' that Mike Pence will distribute to Republican colleagues on Monday. I have to say, I like it. And while I think you want to have a good 'deal-maker' in the leadership, I had forgotten this image of Boehner.

I have to admit - the guy golfs A LOT. Plus he smokes like, 6 cartons a day.

So he doesn't really look the part of the guerilla fighter. Maybe the GOP could go with Boehner and Shadegg, and have a 'good cop/bad cop' approach.'

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Friday, November 10, 2006

GOP Redistricting Failure

Very interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today, on how the GOP's post-2000 redistricting policy may have caused them to lose the House. The central point seems to me that the GOP tried to create too many GOP-leaning districts, which (because they weren't actually strong GOP seats), would up flipping to the Democrats.

First off, the scandal over redistricting is that it leaves too many Members of Congress immune to the wished of the voters. As has been repeatedly said, voters no longer pick their Members of Congress; now Members of Congress pick their voters.

But leaving that aside, if the goal is to maximize GOP seats (a strategy not challenged in this piece), then the problem was not that the GOP was too ambitious in trying to create too many GOP seats. Rather, it was that they did not go far enough in taking GOP voters from rock-solid Republican seats to make the GOP-leaning seats strong for the Republicans.

Since the article focuses on Pennsylvania for example, the problem (from a certain point of view) was not that the GOP created too many Republican-leaning seats. It was that they left Todd Platts's seat unnecessarily strong. Platts won re-election this year with 'just' 64% of the vote, after winning his previous three races with 73%, 91%, and 92%. A truly enterprising redistricter would have found a way to shift some of Platts's strong Republican voters to Curt Weldon, for example. Similarly, Joe Pitts, who's never won with less than 57% (this year) could clearly 'spare' some Republican precincts.

As I say, I think this is a terrible practice. But the WSJ does not demonstrate that it is a flawed strategy.

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Comprehensive Immigration Reform

To all the talk about where comprehensive immigration reform is headed, I just thought I'd add one thing. I am hearing from the incoming Senate leadership that from their point of view, the obstacle to comprehensive reform was the House Republicans. They say that comprehensive reform is 'full speed ahead,' and is likely to see action earlier rather than later.

Update: It's pointed out that my post is vague as to which leadership I mean. Specifically, I am referring to the Democratic leadership. And the comment came from a very high level.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

GOP Leadership: Boehner Strong, Blunt Not

Roll Call covers the start of the House GOP's leadership positions in the minority. The suggestion is that I was partly wrong, and partly right. Roll Call (subscription required) perceives Boehner to be strong - as I expected- for the role of Minority Leader - which is somewhat surprising to me.

House GOP Races Begin
November 9, 2006
By Susan Davis and Ben Pershing, Roll Call Staff

...Even though Pence is on a family vacation, he was working the phones
Wednesday and held a conference call to gauge support among his allies in the
RSC, including GOP Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), who is acting as campaign
manager, Paul Ryan (Wis.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Mike Ferguson (N.J.) and
Patrick McHenry (N.C.), among others.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (Texas) also edged closer to
declaring an official candidacy. “I am now actively considering the option of
seeking the post of Republican Leader,” Barton said a statement released
Wednesday afternoon. Barton held a conference call with Texas Members on

As for Blunt, he will face Rep. John Shadegg (Ariz.), and potentially
others, in the race for Whip.

I don't really see where Barton fits in this, except that he may undercut support for Boehner. Both are 'insiders,' (Barton's a committee chairman). Barton is slightly more conservative, but conservatism isn't Boehner's problem.

Boehner has a lot going for him. As I indicated, Members will realize that they need an 'organization' guy in leadership. Plus, Boehner is a legitimate reformer - crafter of the Contract With America, never sought an earmark, etc. And he can argue - with some credibility - that he wasn't in office long enough to make a difference.

Boehner has a more-established base of support within the Conference than
Pence or Barton, but House GOP aides and Members not aligned with Boehner or
Blunt have suggested that the current leadership may be underestimating the
desire for a change in leadership among the rank-and-file Members.

In particular, Blunt is seen as being the most vulnerable at this point
because he is the most “entrenched” member of the current leadership, according
to one House Republican Member closely aligned with the RSC.

“I think Boehner is strong and Blunt has problems,” the Member said,
adding that based on a number of conversations with colleagues throughout the
day Wednesday, Blunt is seen as in a weakened state.

“It is very possible that others get into the Whip race,” the Member
added, although no other candidates had announced. A Republican source said Rep.
Todd Tiahrt (Kan.) was considering entering the Whip race but had not made any
decision as of Wednesday.

I think Roll Call has it right: the appetite for change is great. Rank-and-file members don't want to continue with the same leaders who presided over the failure. And Blunt has to know that if Boehner is selected as Minority Leader, he's dead. That makes Shadegg the likely winner.

There are also other, lower-level leadership posts open. Deborah Pryce has vacated the Conference Chair spot, which she would have lost anyway. Blackburn, Putnam, and Kingston are seeking that. I think Kingston is great, but he better hope a woman is elected somewhere else in leadership, if he is to have a prayer.

Kay Granger is right now the only person in the race for Conference Vice-Chair, which Kingston is vacating. John Doolittle won't run for Conference Secretary, and apparently John Carter is the favorite there.

Update: Tim Chapman helpfully notes that Roy Blunt will be making his case for his leadership at Heritage today at 2:00 Eastern. Watch it live.

Update II: Republican Members of Congress might also remember Mr. Blunt's poorly-timed comments that Dennis Hastert mishandled the Foley mess. I recall some real anger among GOPers about the gratutious slam.

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Wow! That Was FAST!

How long did it take the Congressional majority in 1994 to fail to deliver on campaign promises? Days? Months? Years?

And how long will it take this Congressional majority? Looks like it took about 36 hours:

Dems Unsure How To Deliver On 9/11 Commission Pledge

Despite House Minority Leader Pelosi's pledge this week that Democrats will implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations within the first 100 hours of taking control of the House in January, Democratic lawmakers and aides say they are not sure how they will do it. How they plan to overcome anticipated committee turf battles that have bedeviled some Republican efforts to streamline oversight of homeland security programs also remains unclear. "We didn't have all this up on the screen ready to hit to send," an aide to Pelosi acknowledged after Tuesday's elections. Another aide added, "We don't know what exactly will be brought to the floor." Privately, aides acknowledged that most of the recommendations by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, have been addressed in some way by the Bush administration or Republican-controlled Congress. But they said those recommendations have not been fully implemented, or have been done in name only, creating a need for new legislation to fix the shortfalls. In December, for example, the commission gave failing grades to the government when it came to freeing up radio spectrum for emergency responders, allocating homeland security funds based only on risk and improving airline passenger pre-screening.

A bill that lawmakers might look to as a blueprint was sponsored earlier this year by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., aides said. The bill was endorsed in June by the former chairmen of the 9/11 Commission as "a comprehensive approach to carry out each of the recommendations." The bill would mainly require the administration to report to Congress on progress toward complying with the recommendations and requirements under intelligence reform legislation that was passed in late 2004 in response to those recommendations. Notably, the GAO would certify that the recommendations and requirements have been met. The bill rolls together disparate pieces of legislation, such as one that would require more homeland security grants to be distributed according to risk and one that would provide first responders with interoperable communications equipment.

But the bill could also prompt a major jurisdictional turf battle in the new Congress. For example, the bill would give the House Homeland Security Committee exclusive jurisdiction over the Homeland Security Department, essentially stripping the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of some oversight. The bill would also give the House Intelligence Committee exclusive jurisdiction over intelligence matters, including the tactical intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the Defense Department. And it would require declassification of the overall intelligence budget, something the administration and some Republicans have fiercely fought.

Advocates of the Shays-Maloney bill hope it will be considered by the Democratic leadership. "The first thing that I would do is have a conversation with Congressman Shays and Congresswoman Maloney, and look at the legislation that they drafted," said Mary Fetchet, who lost her son in the attacks and founded the nonprofit Voices of September 11th. She emphasized the need for further reform of congressional oversight. Maloney, when asked, deferred to leadership on how to proceed. "It doesn't matter which legislation comes before us, all that matters is that we finally fully enact all of the commission's recommendations," she said. "I'm thrilled that we'll have a chance to get this done during the first 100 hours of the next Congress."
-- by Chris Strohm

So the Democrats weren't ready with the agenda? Was it a surprise to them that they were going to take the majority? It was only predicted for about 4 or 5 months.

I'm just teasing. They have until the first day of the new Congress to straighten it out.

The clock is ticking.

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What did Republicans Accomplish?

Ramesh Ponnuru points to this great piece by Michael Barone. The first part is interesting; he explains problems with exit polls.

Better though, is this:

The conservative interval: What did it accomplish?

There are many more issues to address, but it is 3:40 a.m. and I am not going to address them all tonight. Let's look at it this way: The Republicans controlled the House for 12 years–the third longest period of Republican control in history (after 1895-1911 and 1861-75). Democrats of course had a majority in the House (though their leaders often didn't have control) for a far longer period of 40 years (1955-95) and also for a 16-year period (1931-47). But let's look back on the Republican period recently. What did they accomplish?

To answer that question, I think you have to look beyond Capitol Hill and consider the whole country. The big public-policy successes of the 1990s were welfare reform and crime control. Welfare dependency and violent crime were cut by more than 50 percent–more than anyone in 1990 thought possible. Key initiatives were taken not in Congress, but in the states and cities–on welfare reform by governors like Tommy Thompson, on crime control by mayors like Rudy Giuliani in New York City. Most of them were Republicans, but may were Democrats. Also, education reforms were undertaken, again more by Republicans (like George Bush and Jeb Bush in Texas and Florida) but also by some Democrats (like Jim Hunt in North Carolina). In all this, Congress and the Clinton and Bush administrations were interested and occasionally helpful bystanders. The Republican Congress passed welfare reform three times and, after Dick Morris told Clinton he had to sign it, he did so. Bush got a bipartisan majority to pass a federal education accountability bill that built on the successful actions of many states. Gun control, a federal initiative which had no realistic possibility of really reducing crime, was passed by a Democratic Congress in 1994. But the more realistic proposals, allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons and therefore to deter violent criminals from attacking decent bystanders, have been making steady progress in the states to the point that they now hold sway in states with more than two thirds the nation's population.

The Republican Congress deserves great credit for resisting proposals to create the sort of government-run healthcare systems that are bankrupting Western Europe. The 1997 budget deal between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton cut the increases in healthcare expenses sharply; when that inspired protests against HMOs, the Republican Congress averted provisions that would have subjected them to regulation by government and predation by trial lawyers. Instead, employees exercised the option of exit (people who didn't like HMOs got out from under them). The Medicare prescription drug bill of 2003, a vast expansion of government entitlements, created a field of competition that dragged premium costs below expected levels, allowed grievants the option of exit and opened up the field of expanded options to high-deductible health savings accounts. The Democratic House will try to turn the clock back on these advances, but will probably not succeed during the next two years. The Democrats would like us to go slouching toward Scandinavia, even while Sweden and the Netherlands move in our direction to more healthcare options.

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Roll Call: Hoyer Has Edge Over Murtha

One of the first tests of whether the Democrats can succeed in just running the Congress is whether they can balance the demands of a fractious conference. Don't read overmuch into the talk that this batch of Democratic freshmen is more moderate than previous classes; while this is true, the House Democratic caucus is still a pretty liberal constituency.

So if the Democrats are going to manage the majority, they need to respect and find a place for moderates. Steny Hoyer is clearly their candidate in the current leadership shuffle. And while John Murtha now appears to be a 'bring the troops home' liberal, it looks like he's having trouble making headway in his race against Hoyer for Majority Leader:

Hoyer, Murtha Battle
By Jennifer Yachnin and John BresnahanRoll Call Staff
November 9, 2006

...Current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was not similarly hesitant, formally announcing his bid for the Majority Leader’s office early Wednesday morning and confidently predicting that he will secure the post when Democrats vote in leadership election on Nov. 16.

“I think I’m going to win,” Hoyer said in an interview Wednesday. The Maryland lawmaker, who has served as Minority Whip since 2003, said “over a majority” of House incumbents as well as newly-elected lawmakers “have indicated that they would be supportive of me.”

But Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) — who stunned fellow lawmakers when he announced in June that he would campaign for the Majority Leader post against Hoyer — re-affirmed his own interest in the office Wednesday...

Murtha, who is the ranking member of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Defense, also defended his decision to seek the leadership post, asserting that not only is the office an “open seat” in the new Congress, but arguing that he outranks Hoyer in the Caucus hierarchy.

“There’s Nancy Pelosi, [Appropriations Committee ranking member Rep.] Dave Obey (D-Wis.) and myself, and then Hoyer is listed after me in the power plays,” Murtha said on NPR.

That assertion bewildered at least one Democratic House lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity: “In my mind that shows a lack of understanding. I like Mr. Murtha but that’s not just the way it is.”

I don't even know what Mr. Murtha means by that. To put it kindly, it sounds like he has a hard time communcating. Add this to the suggestion that we redelpoy troops from Iraq to Okinawa, because Okinawa is so close by, and you have to wonder...

“There is real genuine concern that we don’t want to see a divisive leadership fight, just at the time that we’re seeing tremendous success and tremendous unity and harmony and good feelings in the Caucus,” the lawmaker added...

A group of senior lawmakers representing a broad cross-section of the Caucus — including Reps. Barney Frank (Mass.), John Dingell (Mich.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), Ike Skelton (Mo.), John Lewis (Ga.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) and James Oberstar (Minn.) — issued their own letter Wednesday urging fellow Democrats to back Hoyer’s bid.

“Steny ... has been an instrumental part of our leadership team, reaching out to all elements of our diverse Caucus and helping to bring Democrats together,” the letter stated. “Our continued unity is imperative, and we believe that the leadership team that brought us to this point should continue to lead us in the new Majority.”

In addition, the significant time Hoyer has spent over the past two years building a base of support among junior Democrats, including challengers and open-seat candidates, by raising money and making campaign visits to 80 districts, appears ready to pay dividends, as several Members-elect confirmed Wednesday that they will cast ballots for the Maryland lawmaker next week...

In addition to the Majority Leader competition, Democrats could see a contest for control of the third-ranking post of Majority Whip.

Although House Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) remained the only active candidate for the post Wednesday evening it is possible that Emanuel, who has said he will not serve a second term as DCCC chairman, will make a bid for the office.

Appearing at a press briefing Wednesday, Emanuel declined to discuss his plans, asserting that he wanted to confer with fellow lawmakers before issuing a decision. “Give me 24 hours more to decide,” he said.

But even if Emanuel decides against challenging Clyburn for the post, the South Carolina lawmaker could still face competition. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), the current Chief Deputy Minority Whip, has not spoken publicly about her interest in the post, but is nonetheless expected to enter the race if Emanuel does not...

Managing the expectations of the black caucus will also be a challenge for Pelosi. If Clyburn is ousted from his leadership spot, and Alcee Hastings goes not get the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee, it could get the Democrats off to a difficult start.

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A Case for Divided Government

I may be coming late to the party, with all the talk about libertarians costing Republicans victories on Tuesday.

But Bill Niskanen at Cato (a veteran of the Reagan administration) makes an interesting case that divided government produces far more fiscal restraint that one-aprty government - even if that party is the Republicans.

I've always imagined that divided government gets both Congress and the President to compete in the same direction - and that that could be toward fiscal restraint, or toward profligacy. But Niskanen's piece is worth a read. As is his colleague, Slivinski's.

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Nancy Pelosi's Biggest Challenge

The incoming Democratic majority includes more than 80 Democrats who served in their last majority ('93-'94) (by comparison, there are just 65 Republicans from that Congress). These are folks who had the football snatched away several times since 1994; folks who thought they were about to become Chairmen again, and who licked their wounds and kept waiting. Remember Charlie Rangel, who promised to quit if the Democrats did not retake the majority? He was the 'cut-and-run' guy here; most intended to die in office if they had to, waiting for the majority again.

There are 10 Democrats who came into office before Jimmy Carter was President. And these are 10 of the most influential - folks like Dingell (sworn in during the Eisenhower administration), Conyers (LBJ), Rangel (Nixon), Pete Stark (Nixon again), George Miller (Ford) and Henry Waxman (Ford as well).

How is Nancy Pelosi going to bring in line these old-line, hidebound liberals, who committed their lives to waiting for Godot (if Godot were a chairmanship)? Keeping everyone from John Conyers to Heath Shuler on board will make herding cats look easy.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Journey to the Dark Side is Complete...

Webb wins Virginia. Allen to concede.

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On Lieberman's Future -- updated and bumped

As I write this, it looks very much like the Republicans have lost the Senate. Of course, as recounts in Montana and Virginia proceed, it's conceivable that either Conrad Burns or George Allen will pull out a win, and give the Senate back to the GOP.

For that reason, this is the perfect time for Joe Lieberman to switch parties - if he's going to. If he switches today (or simply announces his intent to back a Republican for Majority Leader), he could name his price - Chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, or whatever else he might want. If he waits for things to become clearer in Montana and Virginia, it might be that Republicans do keep the Senate, and his support won't be worth as much.

I no longer think Lieberman will do it, but it seems to me that it is absolutely the right play for him. And while he has given assurances in the last week that he would stay with the Democrats, he could certainly finesse his change of heart. He might say that he is concerned that the prospect of Democratic control of both the House and Senate - which was unexpected just 24 hours ago - could seriously undermine the conduct of the War on Terror, and it requires him to vote for a Republican for Majority Leader of the Senate.

I heard Lieberman on Imus this morning, and when Imus told him to take revenge on the Democrats who betrayed him, Lieberman answered 'Well, revenge is a dish best served cold.' That could certainly be read to indicate that he was about to stab his 'fellow Democrats' in the back, but I assume he did not intend to imply that.

Update: Lieberman seems committed to showing the Democrats more loyalty than they showed him; he apparently gave assurances that he would stay with them. The only caveat is the question of whether Frank Lautenberg will win support for his challenge to Lieberman's seniority.

Note too, that I am not the only one questioning the wisdom of this course of action. New America's Steve Clemons wonders:

Joe Lieberman's victory creates complexities in the Senate becaue I take him at his word that he is finished with organized corralling of his voting. He will stay with the Dem caucus in order to maintain his seniority -- but I think that the days that he is a "trusted" member of the Dem team are over -- and Lieberman and Dems need to see whether trust and common purpose can be rebuilt and whether that effort would be worthwhile.

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Britney and K-Fed: Class to the End

OK, this is a dramatic departure from the usual fare on this site. But I have to give in to pop culture.

As most have heard, Britney Spears has filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline. The attached YouTube clip captures how it happened.

Apparently Federline was filming some show in which he agreed to have a camera follow him all day and film everything he does. He spoke at length about the deep and abiding love binding him, his wife, and their children. And then he got this text message...

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Advice for the Democrats

The Democrats are in town, and much as I oppose portions of their agenda, I hope that they work well with the President to protect us from terror attacks, promote economic growth, and...

Well, I'll start with that, and see where we go from there.

As one who was in the House the last time it changed hands, I have some advice for incoming Democrats. Be ambitious, and remember that the tone is set early.

When Republicans took over the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, we had no one who had ever served in the majority. We had relatively few veterans who felt wedded to the structure the Democrats had created, and we had a huge Freshman class that had never served in Washington at all. There were great ideas about how to reform the institution and make it work better.

A lot of those got implemented, and I think the GOP did a good job in eliminating the House Bank, eliminating LSOs, reorganizing committees, changing their foci, instituting term limits for chairmen, etc. However, there were those who pushed for broader reforms: like changing the budget process, reforming gift rules and dramatically reducing the number of committees. In almost all cases, the reforms that did not get made in the first few weeks never got made. And even the ones that were put into place were later undercut.

So my advice to the incoming Democrats is: if you think reforms are needed, make them now.

Speaker-elect Pelosi has laid out the agenda here. Get to it! The things you don't do now will probably never get done.

One reason is that the Democratic House already comes with a SHOCKING degree of entrenched interests. In 1994, no Republicans had served in the majority. Twelve years later, more than 80 House Democrats are still around from the last Democratic majority - which featured the long-forgotten Tom Foley and David Bonior as its leaders.

It's rare that old-timers see the need for reform, and there are a lot of old-timers on the Democratic side. And to have waited 12 years to return to the majority... well, you probably want to enjoy the perks that go with the title.

Just on the Congressional reform side, Pelosi promises to ban lobbyist gifts and travel, extend the 'cooling off period' for staff and members to lobby their friends, enhance disclosure, prevent elected officials from pressuring companies on hiring of lobbyists, and bring openness to the committee process.

(By the way, conspicuously missing from the list is an independent, outside ethics process. This surprises me; have I missed it? I think that voters will forever have contempt for the ethics process if they believe that Members of Congress are protecting other Members and preserving a gentlemen's agreement to limit ethics investigatons overall. If the Democrats don't make this change, it will come back to haunt them eventually.)

But with regard to reform, how does Charlie Rangel feel about those promises? How does John Dingell feel? Does Harry Reid agree? And if the Senate refuses to play by the same rules - as they usually do - what do you do then?

The rest of the Democratic agenda is all liberal dogma, so I have a hard time picking out any good examples of bold ideas that would be good to implement today. But I think you get my point.

One of the reasons the GOP lost power was the perception of arrogance and putting the Congress above the law. If Pelosi wants to change it, she better change it right away.

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More Election Thoughts

Assuming Montana and Virginia stay as they are - and both Tester and Webb win - then in all important ways, it is 1994 again. The voters will have dispatched well-entrenched leadership in both Houses because of anger at the President and the imperial Congress.

When that happened, the new leadership set the agenda and the President reacted. The President even had to defend his relevance. Is that where we are headed this time?

Nancy Pelosi has a specific agenda, even if it's not the Contract With America. (See it here). Is President Bush going to sit back and see what the Democrats do, and then start 'triangulating?'

With regard to the new Republican leadership in the House, there's a lot of talk about whether there is a place for John Boehner. I think the answer is likely to be 'yes.' He may not be Minority Leader, because the conference clearly recognizes the importance of having a reformist conservative as their leader, and he doesn't seem to fit that bill. However, the President and Congressional Republicans will still try to enact priorities, and for that they will need someone who can (for lack of a better term) 'make deals.' That means someone like Boehner.

The President and the Republican Minority will probably never enact a priority by combining with conservative Democrats and winning a floor vote over the opposition of the Democratic leadership. The House simply does not work that way. When they do 'win' it will be because the Democratic leadership sees such an alliance forming, and changes its approach. That means you need someone who can negotiate with moderate House Democrats, influence the White House (and convey veto threats), and forge alliances. That's probably not something that a conservative firebrand can do (or would want to do).

So will someone like John Boehner stay in the House Republican leadership? Absolutely. Will it be Boehner? Probably - unless you have a better candidate. Will he be Minority Leader? Probably not.

Just my thoughts.

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A Contrary Opinion

Disappointed as I am with the results of the voting last night, and contrary to what many others have said, I think the voters have set the table in just about the optimal way for entitlement reform. (A caveat: I'm not saying it will happen, I'm just saying that if it doesn't happen now, it may never).

We have seen very clearly that the Democrats would not work with the President on a plan to create private accounts in Social Security. Because of that opposition, the President's plan was seen as too radical and risky, and the GOP could not even consolidate its own caucus. And the Democrats had the best of both worlds, because they could attack the GOP without being accountable for the results.

Well, the President's plan is clearly DOA. But Social Security reform may not be. The President wants a legacy. He wants Social Security reform. The Democrats - at least in theory - do not want the program to go bankrupt. Plus, because the Democrats seem to control both the House and the Senate, they have accountability for the result, and they have a 'seat at the table.'

Well, what about Bill Clinton's Social Security reform plan as a starting point for discussion? He laid it out in his 1999 State of the Union. Some key points have changed since then (notably, there is no longer an anticipated budget surplus), but Republicans might be able to build on the idea of:

  • Investing a portion of Social Security revenues in the private sector; and,
  • Creating Universal Savings Accounts

I don't know if the Democrats can be convinced to fund Clinton's proposals with Social Security revenues (as opposed to the budget surplus which Clinton wanted to use), and I don't know if the President can move back from personal private accounts to government-directed investment. I know that conservatives used a lot of ink trashing the idea of having the government invest tens and hundreds of billions of dollars in the private market (and those criticisms remain valid). But I wonder if there is not a middle ground to be found.

After all, the President is clearly not going to get exactly what he wants. The Democrats are clearly not going to get exactly what they want. The program goes into the red in about ten years. And if reform does not happen in this Congress, the next President won't be foolish enough to touch it in his or her first term. That means that if it is not addressed in 2007, it won't be addressed until 2015 at the earliest. And that's right around the time that Social Security ceases to be a subsidy for general federal spending, and instead becomes a drain on the general budget.

As I have said before, Democrats claim to want to save the program. Well, they won't get a better chance. If they wait until after Bush, then it's almost inevitable that the solution will be more politically painful, and more damaging to the Social Security recipients that the Democrats claim to want to protect.

And by the way, do Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, John McCain, Sam Brownback, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Russ Feingold, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and Duncan Hunter (am I missing anyone?) want to run for President in an environment where Social Security is a looming problem, or would they rather have the issue 'off the table' during the campaign?

As I say, the table is set.

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Freedom is Just Another Word...

For Nothing Left to Lose

Well, what great news we got last night, huh? I mean, we conservatives. I read a number of folks saying it wouldn't be a bad thing if we lost control of the House for a couple of years, sharpened our agenda and our ideology, and then retook power and implemented a revitalized conservative vision. Well, now we have that chance AND MORE!

We're no longer encumbered by either the House OR the Senate! And in case two years isn't enough, the margin in the House makes it unlikely that we'll regain the Majority until 2010 at least - or maybe even until a Democratic President faces his '6-year itch!'

Isn't this wonderful! But wait, there's more!

If and when we retake the majority, we won't have to deal with guys like Rick Santorum, George Allen, Jim Talent, JD Hayworth, Richard Pombo, Chris Chocola, Gil Gutknecht, and John Hostettler. It's a good thing we cleared the deadweight.

Yes, we certainly are well-positioned now. We're like the Democrats after 1994. It only took them 12 years to get back to power. And they've taken advantage of their time in the wilderness to come up with a finely-tuned, detailed vision of where they want to take this country.

What a great day to be a conservative...

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Sure Am Glad There Was no Wave

That would have been really bad, huh?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Losing the House...

Sure looks like the Democrats are headed for taking the seats they need to win the House. I don't know what the margin will be, but as I've noted before, I suspect the GOP will really come to rue the terrible mistakes they made in giving away some easy Republican seats. Tom DeLay and his team screwing up his replacement, Bob Ney staying in too long, Mark Foley, Don Sherwood choking his mistress, Curt Weldon's daughter taking money to lobby him..

That's 5 easy Republican wins that were given away to the Democrats. Am I missing any?

A disciplined majority would not have lost those.

Update: John Sweeney (if he does lose) having to deal with a 911 call for reported domestic violence...

Update II: Should I be glad that the House margin wound up being so great, that even if we had all 6 of these seats back, we probably still wouldn't be within 10?

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Why I Vote (bumped - new material below)

Why do I vote? Because when I think about who will be happy with a Democratic victory, I know I need to do all I can to prevent it. If you're not convinced of the need to go out and vote Republican on Tuesday, think of who will be smiling on Wednesday morning if the Democrats win:

Why I Vote (continued)

Dueling Independents

Just a thought. If Lieberman (I-CT) and Sanders (I-VT) both win their Senate races as expected, how will they figure out the agenda of the 'Independent Caucus' of the Senate? Will the caucus meet in a broom closet? Will they elect leadership? And what if they can't agree on who should be 'Independent Leader?'

Do you think if that happens, Sanders might defect to the Democrats?

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Office Space: Scarier than Pelosi's Agenda

Stephen Root is far, far scarier than Jack Nicholson. And doesn't Ron Livingston looks a lot like Rick Santorum?

Wow. I have been spending far too much time on the election.

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The Happy Couple

Seriously, when was the last time you saw Bill and Hillary in the same place, let alone smiling!?

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Free Trade Victory

Nice to see that Boeing has weathered the competition from government-funded Airbus, and is now kicking their butts.

Hhhmmm... now how can I translate this into votes for GOP candidates?

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House GOP Gets Ready for New Leaders

The Hill reports that Mike Pence is preparing to run for Minority Leader if the GOP loses the House. There's also discussion of the leadership aspirations of a number of other potential contenders.

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What a long, strange trip it's been. But at last we're here.

First off, please get out and vote - regardless of how long you have to wait. And as you cast your vote for Congress and Senate (if applicable), remember that the most important vote your official will cast during his or her term will be for Speaker or Majority Leader. If you vote Republican, you will be voting for action rather than passivity in protecting us from terror, for lower taxes, personal responsibility, and respect for individual rights and religious practice.

Equally as important, if you vote Republican today - when Democrats think they have a great chance to retake the House and Senate - you will be sending the Democratic party a message. You will be telling the Democratic leadership that they will not win majority support until they change their agenda. You'll be telling them to give you a real choice on election day, instead of a false one. If Democrats realize that the American people want fiscal repsonsibility, personal responsibility, and aggressiveness in protecting us from the terrorist threat, they can compete for your vote. Tell them that with regard to Iraq, this and this are not good enough.

And if you don't believe that the Democratic party can change, just look at gun control. Or rather, the lack of it. The Democrats realized it was a loser issue, and finally have dropped it from their agenda. There's no reason that over time, they can't come to realize the other reasons that they are not trusted. After all, even if they only go so far as to return to being the party of Clinton, weren't we as a nation better off when we had a choice between Clinton and the GOP? If you think the answer is 'no,' just remember how much better the GOP was when it competed against Bill Clinton, than it is today.

Even a partisan like myself will admit that America is better off when it has a choice of leadership on election day. So today, vote the only real choice you have. And cast that vote because you WANT a choice in the future.

Now, the predictions.

I have a really hard time figuring what is going to happen with the House of Representatives. I look at the polls, and those who interpret them, and I have a hard time thinking that every poll we have seen for months now (with the exception of a few upticks in the last days) is wrong. Unless the polls have been far off from Day 1, the Democrats will win the House. As much as I want to do otherwise, I have to predict a Democratic takeover of the House - with a little breathing room. I predict a Democratic gain of 21 seats. That will bring the breakdown in the House to 224 Democrats, 211 Republicans.

In the Senate, I think the GOP will have a better day than has been expected for a while. I expect Mike DeWine, Rick Santorum, and Lincoln Chafee will lose. But I think that Conrad Burns, George Allen, and Jim Talent will win. I expect Michael Steele will pull off a miracle, and be elected to the Senate in Maryland. The net will be a Democratic gain of 2 seats. For a 53-47 partisan breakdown.

And if the Democrats do take the House, George Bush will get the immigration amnesty he has been pushing for. But apart from that, he's likely to become a lot more popular as he finally has the chance to contrast himself with Nancy Pelosi, every day for the next two years. When Democrats pass rules to require dramatic new tax increases, and fight for higher spending levels than Bush requests, and hold hearings to scrutinize everything the White House does, conservatives will like George Bush a whole lot better than they do today.

And I sure hope I'm wrong.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Stuff to Chew On...

Hotline notes that the Democrats need 15 seats to retake the House, and that a 'wave' of that size has only come once since 1982: in the GOP victory of 1994.

Ken Mehlman notes another poll showing a dramatic closing in the generic ballot. The Democratic 'Democracy Corps' poll shows the Dem lead has closed from 11 to 4 in a week.

With regard to the apparent closing in some of the polls, Robert Wright of points out that none of those polls is likely to have captured much of any post-Saddam sentencing surge. If they are surging, and if the Saddam death sentence is worth anything, then you can probably add a point or two to Republican performance on the generic poll. (He makes the point somewhere around the 34:30 mark). Wright also suggests (somewhere around the 38:00 minute mark) that support for the GOP in the polls may be understated because Bush supporters are so 'beaten down' by the anti-Bush sentiment that they are unwilling to tell anyone - even pollsters - that they intend to vote Republican. In this scenario, a whole bunch of 'undecideds' walk into the polling place and 'suddenly' vote Republican.

Also, Chuck Todd sees no reason to wait until after the election to offer bipartisan recriminations. He tells you what to expect and who will be blamed, no matter who wins. Not sure if it's free or not, so I'll simply post it:

The Blame Game Scenarios
By Chuck Todd,
© National Journal Group Inc.
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006

There are three potential outcomes when this year's midterm elections come to a close:

Scenario I: Democrats ride a wave of discontent over President Bush and Iraq, and they pick up at least 30 House seats and at least six Senate seats.

Scenario II: Democratic momentum stalls a bit, and the party narrowly picks up the House -- but only by a three- to five-seat margin. And the party's gains in the Senate are no more than a net of three seats, keeping the GOP in control.

Scenario III: The Republicans narrowly hold on to their majorities in both chambers.
The level of fallout or hubris for each party depends on which scenario comes true.

SCENARIO I: A Democratic Wave

This is the scenario that Democrats secretly believe and Republicans secretly fear to be most likely. Sure, the White House is optimistic these days and swears that the proverbial glass still has some condensation in it, but the fact remains there aren't any polls that indicate Republicans are headed in the right direction this campaign season.

So what happens if disaster strikes the GOP? Like any political party that loses an election, there will be major recriminations. But before they play out, there would be a heated debate about whether a depressed base or a defection of moderates caused the losses. Whoever wins that argument (probably those arguing depressed base) would determine who's in charge of the party.

In the House, that means gutting the leadership. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., would likely resign rather than run for minority leader. In fact, he probably would do what former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., did in '98 and resign his House seat after the first of the year, making Illinois' 14th District home to the first special election of 2007.

The question mark is current Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. Is he new enough in the leadership to avoid being booted (as he was in '98) from the leadership team? He would be a comfortable face for the House GOP, but is he the right face to lead the Republicans out of the minority? Will the House conservatives rally around someone like Mike Pence of Indiana or John Shadegg of Arizona instead, or will a compromise candidate like Eric Cantor of Virginia sneak through? Or maybe Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is the answer? I shouldn't count out Missouri's Roy Blunt either, but something tells me he won't be interested in staying in the minority. Since the Democrats are likely to have a woman leading their House caucus, their Republican colleagues might feel pressured to have a woman in leadership up higher than they have now. So if Blackburn doesn't run for the top post, look for her to be a strong contender for the second slot.

The problem for House Republicans is that until the Mark Foley scandal broke, the de facto heir apparent to Hastert was National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds of New York. Even if Reynolds survives his re-election race (and there are signs he will), he might have suffered too much political damage to mount a leadership bid. As for his NRCC post, the race is already down to Phil English of Pennsylvania, Tom Cole of Oklahoma (a former pollster) and Pete Sessions of Texas. English and Sessions start with the bigger regional advantages, but Cole's got the political consultant card to play.

If Scenario I occurs, the Senate's leadership team will be decimated by the voters of Pennsylvania, as the Keystone State's junior senator, Rick Santorum (R), is likely to lose. That comes in addition to the retirement of Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. Plus, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl's fate is uncertain. A player in the Senate's Republican leadership, he could be swept out of office by a big wave -- leaving yet another hole in the leadership team.

What we do know is that Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will lead the GOP caucus, whether it's as majority leader or minority leader. Sens. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee both seem poised to run for a top post as well. If Kyl wins, I'd expect him to move up the ladder from his current chairmanship of the Policy Committee. Another leadership wild card might be Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, but he has to win re-election first and probably wouldn't under this first scenario. Compared with the holes the House Republicans will be attempting to fill, the leadership battles among Senate Republicans might be quite tame. McConnell runs a tight ship; he won't allow intraparty feuds to be leaked to the media the way House Republicans will.

As for the other arms of the GOP, the most interesting vacancy the party may have to fill is at the Republican National Committee. No matter the results this cycle, Chairman Ken Mehlman has made little secret of his desire to move on. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if all of the '08 prospective presidential candidates (and even the White House) pass on talking him into staying. He's as neutral a chair as the party could find, and mechanically, it's hard to pin any blame for '06 on Mehlman. Sure, he's had his disagreements with the NRCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the White House, but compared with relations among the three major Democratic committees, it's nothing.

If Mehlman leaves, the RNC chairmanship will take on the feel of a caretaker, and that's the last thing the party needs as it prepares for '08.

As for the Democrats in this scenario, the only thing they have to fear is hubris. Do the Democrats make the mistake of believing voters hired the Democrats to run the country, or do they go into 2007 realizing the country simply fired the Republicans?

Democrats in the House have an interesting decision to make regarding who will be No. 2 to the likely House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California. Will it be Steny Hoyer of Maryland (her current No. 2 as minority whip) or John Murtha of Pennsylvania? While Murtha's military credentials are impressive, is he really the right face for the party? Frankly, neither Hoyer nor Murtha strike me as ideal majority leaders. Both are dealmakers, but they may be too close to the old way of doing things in Washington. And they both may have just too many ties to K Street -- and that could make the Democrats' new House majority look like ethical hypocrites. Whether legitimate or trumped up, I could see ethics complaints filed against either Hoyer or Murtha in a hurry by a vindictive Republican minority.

The wild card is Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois. He's a fresher face, and the new class of House freshmen will have a greater sense of loyalty to him than to Pelosi. If the potential new speaker is as shrewd as some Democrats swear to me she is, then she's likely to quietly support a majority leader bid by Emanuel, or at the worst, the whip job. Emanuel's likely to be pressured to stay one more cycle at the DCCC, but with the Democrats stuck playing defense in '08, why would he want to do it?

The Senate Democratic leadership team is unlikely to undergo any major change in a possible wave. Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will slide over to the majority leader post, and Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois will continue to be the No. 2. The only major unknown on the Senate side is who becomes chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The 2008 cycle is actually a pretty good one for the Democrats, because more Republican seats will be up in '08 than Democratic ones. Chairman Charles Schumer of New York is not up in '08 -- so he would be eligible to stay another cycle -- but would he? If it's a way to stay in leadership, maybe he would. But if he leads Democrats to capture the majority in '06, why would he risk his political legacy in '08?

As for the Democratic National Committee, a gain of 30 or more House seats would mean Democrats would score victories in places that Chairman Howard Dean has invested in for his 50-state strategy. If Democrats win major races in Alaska, Idaho and Nebraska, look for some major gloating by the former presidential hopeful.

SCENARIO II: Democrats Win Small Majority In House, Not Senate

A better name for this result might be the "kissing your sister" scenario. There's something for both parties to gloat about, but neither will have had enough success in '06 to fully declare the night a "Democratic victory" or a "Republican victory."

I don't believe the recrimination issue facing the GOP in Scenario I would change much if a narrow Democratic majority is installed. Hastert would still probably go, and the GOP would still be likely to face some intraparty ideological squabbles, which would result in a new leadership team.

But the fascinating storyline in this scenario will be Pelosi's fate. Will, say, 220 House Democrats stay united and elect Pelosi speaker, or will enough conservative House Democrats break and elect a compromise Democrat as speaker? Even the threat of Democrats peeling off and working in collaboration with the Republicans to do so might be enough to encourage a serious challenge to Pelosi inside the Democratic caucus. For some reason Pelosi has a terrible relationship with the liberal blogs. There's a pretty decent chance liberal bloggers could start a grassroots effort to get behind Emanuel for speaker.

Another leader who would face problems under this outcome is Dean, because the result would largely be chalked up to the Republican Party's mechanical advantage on turnout. And there's a well-documented paper trail of folks like Emanuel and Schumer complaining about the lack of GOTV help they've received from the DNC. If Democrats come up thousands of votes short in a bunch of targeted races, particularly on the Senate side, watch for a lot of Beltway Democrats to point the finger at Dean.

SCENARIO III: Republicans Hold Their Majorities

This result is the least likely, because it appears that Republicans have too many vulnerable House seats to hold onto the lower chamber. That said, anything is possible, and conventional wisdom so regularly gets turned upside down that I would be an idiot not to entertain this scenario.

In short, if Democrats fail to win at least one of the chambers, the recriminations and finger-pointing will be epic. The failure to win in this environment will probably cost Dean and Pelosi their jobs and will put all of the Democratic leadership in Washington on notice. I wouldn't put it past some Democrats to begin pondering splintering off and forming third parties. That may sound irrational, but it's one thing not to win when the president's job approval rating is in the high 40s to low 50s -- it's another not to win when the opposition party's leader is as unpopular as Bush is. It would take a very inept political party to blow this opportunity facing them now.

Don't underestimate the demoralizing effect that losing in entirety could have on the Democratic Party. It could permeate for a very long time, and beyond 2008.

As for Republicans, they would take a result like this and treat it as a mandate, even though their majorities (under this outcome) would be less than they are today. But the expectations have shifted to a point that holding both houses of Congress is a gigantic victory for the GOP and Bush.

A piece of the fallout puzzle I left off of each scenario is the 2008 presidential race, but I have to save something for the December doldrums!

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Celebrating National Ammo Day

It's good that National Ammo Day comes in November, but shouldn't it come a few weeks sooner, so you're certain to be well-stocked before Election Day? I mean, that's about the worst time to run short:

Just like Daylight Savings Time has been associated with the time to check the batteries in your smoke alarms, National Ammo Day is the day you take inventory of your ammo stores, and replish and resupply as necessary.

We don’t want anyone to wait to purchase needed ammo on Ammo Day, but we want to make sure you set aside at least one day a year to look at what you have, what you need, and adjust accordingly.

It's coming up fast, and if you haven't prepared properly, maybe you can run to the store and get some gift certificates. I mean, what's worse than buying a gift for someone and getting the wrong size?

Of course, if the Democrats win tomorrow, you might as well kiss National Ammo Day goodbye...

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GOP Analyst Says: Too Little, Too Late

The Hotline received an E-mail from 'Republican Pollster Steve Lombardo,' who says that the apparent GOP surge is probably too late to help House Republicans keep their majority.

I've reproduced the note below:

A Republican's Take
Republican pollster Steve Lombardo e-mails the Hotline his final overview.

The Republican "surge," he writes, may have come too late.

"Tomorrow’s election will take place in what may be the greatest time of voter discontent in the last 30 years. Six in ten voters believe the country is on the “wrong track”. They are angry and they know who is in charge. When you look at a Gallup poll question on satisfaction nearly two thirds of voters say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. This is very close to 1994 levels and just a bit better than 1982."

On the Congressional Generic Ballot (CGB):

"Republicans have not closed the GCB gap far enough. We believe that the narrowing of the GCB is in part a natural occurrence (Republicans and some swing voters coming home) and also some improvement in the environment for the GOP, but it remains a huge hurdle for the Party. In 1994, eve of the election polls showed Republicans with anywhere from a 4 to 7 point GCB lead. The two most recent polls in this election show Democrats with a similar 4-7 point lead."


"Democrats do better in polls than they do on Election Day. Simply put, Democrats under-perform because a large segment of their core vote is made up of Independents and young people -- both of whom are less likely to actually vote on election day."

This is the lay of the land with 24 hours to go.

An Abundance of Good News for Democrats:

· Tomorrow’s election will take place in what may be the greatest time of voter discontent in the last 30 years. Six in ten voters believe the country is on the “wrong track”. They are angry and they know who is in charge. When you look at a Gallup poll question on satisfaction nearly two thirds of voters say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. This is very close to 1994 levels and just a bit better than 1982.

· This election has become a referendum on the President and the war in Iraq. The election is undoubtedly nationalized.

· The war in Iraq is far and away the most important issue in this election. A majority of voters (53% in the latest Washington Post poll) say that the war was “not worth it”. More than 6 in 10 voters disapprove of the war and the President’s performance in the war. Iraq is the driving factor in this election. It literally will propel voters to the election booth on Tuesday to vote against the President and his party.

· National security has greatly diminished as a major issue. Yes, some voters cite it as an important concern but it is not nearly as strong as the Republicans need it to be. In the same Washington Post poll, only 11% of voters cite national security as the most important issue in their vote for Congress this year. The diminution of the national security issue in this election has really hurt Republicans. Democrats de-coupled Iraq from national security and it will benefit them tomorrow.

· The economic numbers are better (stock market doing well, unemployment showing improvement and gas prices are down substantially) but the GOP is getting little credit and in the parts of the country where it is bad (Ohio, Michigan) it will hurt the GOP.

· According to our analysis of all public polls, the President’s approval rating is at 39% -- well below the level needed to make him a neutral factor in this mid-term election. As we have said in the past, the disapproval of the President and his Iraq policy represent a 2-4 point drag on every Republican candidate for Congress.

· History is on the side of the Democrats. This is the 6th year election of a two-term President and it is almost always bad for the party of President. Throughout the 1900’s the party of the President in his second term lost dozens of seats. In fact, in Reagan's second mid-term election (1986) Republicans managed to lose six House seats as well as the Senate, even though his approval rating stood at 63%.

· Finally, Democrats have led in the generic congressional ballot by significant margins -- some polls showing a 10-15 point lead for the last 6 months (though there is some tightening -- see below).

A Little Good News for Republicans

· A new poll by the Pew Research Center released Sunday shows that the Democrats’ lead in the generic congressional ballot among likely voters has shrunk to 4 points (47% to 43%). While we knew the GCB gap would close, this is a substantial change from late October when Democrats held an 11-point lead among likely voters in the same poll.

· More importantly, the same poll shows that Republican engagement in the election has risen dramatically in the last 30 days.

· John Kerry is back. In the Pew poll, 84% of voters said they heard a lot or a little about Kerry’s remarks -- although a majority said it would be a non-factor in their vote.

We have some hypotheses that we think will be determinants in the election tomorrow:

1. Republicans have not closed the GCB gap far enough. We believe that the narrowing of the GCB is in part a natural occurrence (Republicans and some swing voters coming home) and also some improvement in the environment for the GOP, but it remains a huge hurdle for the Party. In 1994, eve of the election polls showed Republicans with anywhere from a 4 to 7 point GCB lead. The two most recent polls in this election show Democrats with a similar 4-7 point lead.
2. Democrats do better in polls than they do on Election Day. Simply put, Democrats under-perform because a large segment of their core vote is made up of Independents and young people -- both of whom are less likely to actually vote on election day.
3. The above means that Democrats will win on Tuesday but not by the margins that many people think.


What most prognosticators do not want to tell you is that most of this is all about guessing. The polls are too close to tell us with any degree of certainty who is going to win. The national data gives us some insight on the mood and how it might push the vote in one direction or another. Ultimately we do not know who will show up to vote on election day and that will drive who wins and who loses.

We inventoried all of the pundit predictions we could get our hands and averaged those. The average Dem gain based on an analysis of 31 pundits was a 25.2 seat gain. When the pundit provided a spread (e.g. 20-30, we took the mid-point -- i.e., 25).

We are inclined to go a bit lower and are projecting that the Democrats take the House with a net gain of 21 seats…making the new makeup 223 Democrats and 212 Republicans).

We are projecting that the Republicans hold the Senate and actually perform better than expected.

Here is how we see the individual races:

Allen will beat Webb in Virginia. The data over the last 7 days has showed Allen’s vote start to solidify. He did everything possible to give this one away but it may not be enough. VA is a Republican hold.

Burns will come from behind and win in a very close race in Montana. MT is a GOP hold.

Corker wiill beat Ford in Tennessee. This has been trending the Republican’s way since early last week. TN is a GOP hold.
Democrats will hold Maryland and New Jersey.

Democrats will pick up Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Ohio.

In the closest election in the country…and one in which making a projection is really down to a hunch….we now believe that McCaskill will narrowly defeat Jim Talent. The result: Democrats pick up 4 and fall two short of winning the Senate. The new Senate makeup will be 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats.

I don't know anything about Steve Lombardo beyond what I get in a google search. What he says however, certainly seems reasonable. I just hope it's wrong.

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What to Watch For

CQ politics offers a good guide as to how to interpret the early indicators on election night. Stu Rothenberg offers a useful one here as well.

I myself will be watching the results from Kentucky and Indiana at 7:00 pm. I'll be watching 5 House seats - those of Mike Sodrel, Chris Chocola, John Hostettler, Geoff Davis and Anne Northup. If the GOP wins 3 of those 5, I will have a pretty good feeling for the GOP majority. And if they are going to lose control, I suspect they won't be able to hold on to a majority of those seats.

Be an informed viewer.


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Mehlman Confident

RNC Chair Ken Mehlman writes here about why Republicans will do well tomorrow.

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The Pros Are Against Us...

If you make the rounds of predictions by the major election analysts and predictors, it's going to be a great day for the Democrats tomorrow. Charlie Cook's analysis offers little in the way of a specific prediction:

With just over 72 hours to go before the polls close, it's very hard to imagine how the House majority does not turn over, it's a question of how big this thing will be. As the magnitude of the House wave began growing a month or so ago, and the prospect of a 20 or more seat gain became increasingly probable, I decided that no matter how big it got, I was not going to say or write a number bigger than 35. After a certain point, you aren't really counting or even estimating, you're pulling numbers out of the air. I didn't and don't see any point in that. Let's just say it's 20-35, but that the possibility of this getting bigger, is very real. I'm just not going to throw any higher numbers out...

The bottom line is that it is more possible today than a couple weeks ago that Republicans could hold their losses to just four, or it could end up being the six that seemed more likely to many then. Seven seat gain seems pretty much out, but then again three isn't very likely either. Republicans would need a lot of breaks to keep losses to four, a 51-49 majority, but it is quite plausible. Some may be very close, but all but Missouri and Montana are east of the Mississippi River, which doesn't necesarily mean an early evening, but that the story lines of the evening will develop early.

It's not quite like nailing jello to the wall, but it's not far off.

Larry Sabato says the Democrats will net six Senate seats, and take 29 seats in the House.

Stu Rothenberg predicts Democratic gains of 34-40 in the House and 5-7 in the Senate.

The Washington Post yesterday reported the forecasts of the last 13 winners of the 'Crystal Ball' competition that they run prior to each election. Only Mary Matalin predicted that the Republicans would keep the House.

The top election prognosticators in Washington are giving the GOP no shot to retain the House, and put the Senate at more or less even money. Anything less than a complete Republican meltdown tomorrow will qualify as a major shock to the DC punditocracy.

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Why the Surge?

I suspect that a major reason for the apparent GOP 'surge' is that there are lots of disgruntled GOP voters who were unwilling to admit to themselves that they could not vote for the Democrats. They were dissatisfied with spending, immigration, ethics, and other issues, so they could not admit that at the end of the day, they were still going to vote Republican. But as the election approached and the coming vote became more 'real,' they acknowledged that there was no way they could vote for the Democrats - who they know will not make any of these things better.

And note that as Mickey points out, the surge started before Kerry spouted his insulting comments. According to Charles Franklin, the Democrats peaked right about Thursday, October 26. Hhmmm... did anything happen on or about October 26? Oh wait! I know!

I wonder if that decision, which attracted a lot of attention and then went 'under the radar,' was really taken to heart by the social conservative community. Perhaps that was the trigger that led the GOP base to realize the importance of a Republican victory. Perhaps those who were thinking about staying home or voting Democratic, to send a message about their displeasure over a range of issues, decided both to come to the polls and to vote on the issues that have been most important to them.

Just a thought.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Something's Happening Here (II)

And what it is, definitely looks like a GOP surge. Check out RCP.

I'll play the skeptic again: I find it hard to believe that the race would change this dramatically, this late. And what would explain it? The GOP vote 'coming home?' John 'Gift Horse Face' Kerry?

Still, if it's showing in two major polls, it's likely not a mirage. Hopefully the surge is as big as it appears...

Pollster.Com's Charles Franklin pinpoints the Democratic peak as 10 days ago. Heh.

He still projects a Democratic House, but says that now the 'big wave gains' - in the 30s and 40s - seem out of reach. Now he pegs it as in the 20s. Note too, that Franklin wrote this before the Washington Post and Pew Research generic polls were released.

Update: Jim Geraghty notes that Gallup has reported a narrowing of the Dem advantage as well. It went from 13 to 7 points in the last two weeks. Three national polls seems to confirm the surge. Now will it peter our before Tuesday, or keep narrowing?

Update II: Newsweek is not buying the GOP Kool Aid - if that is in fact, what it is.

Update III: If there is a surge, I have a thought as to where it might be coming from - here.

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Shaw Trails Badly - Or Does He?

I'm taking all the polls I see nowadays with a grain of salt - especially this latest poll for the Miami Herald which shows Clay Shaw suddenly trailing by 10 points. Not only is that somewhat out-of-line with other recent polls, but it's by Zogby. And Zogby, well...

In other news, has John Sweeney suddenly had a 17 point swing against him in the last two weeks? Well, on this one I suppose it's possible.

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Steele vs. Cardin

Michael Steele has run an amazing campaign, and he's benefitted from some amazing Cardin miscues. If Cardin manages to win this race in Midnight Blue Maryland, it will only be due to tremendous luck. If Steele and Cardin were fighting 'on a neutral field" Steele would beat him by 20 points.

Check out Cardin's latest claim: that the Patriot Act 'predates his election to the United States Congress.'

Michael Steele gives every GOPer in Maryland a great reason to come out on Tuesday. The guy has earned a win.

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Time: Democrats More Motivated

Their latest poll is nothing but bad news for the GOP - at least based on the data they present.

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Something's Happening Here

What it is ain't exactly clear...

Be aware that there are a number of polls showing things improving for the GOP here in the final days. I'm not sure what to make of them, but you should be aware of it.

For example, Jim Geraghty looks at the narrowing of the Dem advantage in the Washington Post poll. He also sees signs of progress in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Further, some key Republicans have seen their numbers improve in the last few days, including Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley in NH, and Mike DeWine in the latest Ohio Senate poll. (Check out RCP's poll page for the data).

Obviously, Conrad Burns has closed dramatically in the last few weeks, and is tied in the latest poll. Given that this is something that's been going on for a while, I suspect it is real, and I think at this point, you have to favor him for re-election given the Republican tilt of the state.

Keep in mind that notwithstanding these improvements, the numbers are still pretty bad overall. Also, they may just be a sign of Republican voters coming home. There is probably a fair-sized segment that was never going to vote Democratic, but was always too disgruntled to admit that they would eventually vote GOP. Now that the election is here, they are swallowing their anger and frustration, and indicating that they're going to 'suck it up' and vote for the Republicans. If just 3 or 4 percent of likely voters fit that description, then the movement in the polls could reflect that.

Update: NR's Sixers notes a GOP surge in Iowa, and in an article that's worth reading if only for the headline ("GOP on the rebound"), it's noted that Lincoln Chafee is within one. And over here at NR's the Corner, note a 'beltway watcher' who seems aqfully excited about one poll.

I hope that these are all indicative of a real surge - of undecideds considering what it would mean to put Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge of the War on Terror. We'll know soon enough if that's what this is about.

Update II: For the best spin on the good news, check out Lorie Byrd over at Wizbang. Count me skeptical, but I'd be thrilled to be wrong.

Update III: By the way, one of the more dependable predictors of election results is Tradesports. As of this writing, I don't see any uptick in the betting on the GOP retaining the House.

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Jim Talent Decides Who Lives and Dies

So says a despicable 527 ad in Missouri. But wait, wasn't it John Kerry who had all power over death and life? At least that's what John Edwards seemed to say.

This ad is so extreme; I suspect it will provoke the same sort of backlash.

Absolutely disgusting.

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Who's Got a Rope?

Saddam gets the death sentence, death by hanging to be exact. Fox News is reporting that under Iraqi law there's an automatic appeal of any death sentence, so we probably won't see his legs twitching for quite a while.