November 7, 2006

"For Democrats, Even a Gain May Feel Like a Failure."

A NYT headline. Some text (from Adam Nagourney):
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....

Some Democrats worry that those forecasts, accurate or not, may be setting the stage for a demoralizing election night, and one with lasting ramifications, sapping the party’s spirit and energy heading into the 2008 presidential election cycle.
Hey, I kind of like the idea of everyone feeling like they lost! Keep everyone humble.
“Two years ago, winning 14 seats in the House would have been a pipe dream,” said Matt Bennett, a founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic organization. Now, Mr. Bennett said, failure to win the House, even by one seat, would send Democrats diving under their beds (not to mention what it might do to all the pundits).

“It would be crushing,” he said. “It would be extremely difficult.”

[Political analyst Charlie] Cook put it more succinctly. “I think you’d see a Jim Jones situation — it would be a mass suicide,” he said.
Wow, calm down people! It's just politics.

59 comments:

Gerry said...

"Hey, I kind of like the idea of everyone feeling like they lost! Keep everyone humble."

For tonight, I am a big fan!

Good luck with your blogging experience today, Ann!

Simon said...

"Wow, calm down people! It's just politics."

It's just politics, until it isn't. This election has the potential to radically change the landscape that decides what kind of judges are confirmable by the Senate, and may very well hand the Democrats the power - should they choose to use it - to bring a halt to the war in Iraq, the NSA, the works. Simply put, if this election isn't worth getting worked up about, what does the election where it IS worth getting worked up about look like? What has to be on the table?

Remember what happened with Robert Bork. Reagan got Rehnquist elevated and Scalia confirmed. Then the GOP lost some seats in the Senate, and instead of getting Justice Bork, we've had to sufffer through years of Anthony Kennedy. This election sees us within one retirement of a working majority on the Supreme Court. If that isn't an absolutely critical time, when will be?

Doug said...

I think her point about it being just politics is that no matter what your point of view, you shouldn't go off the deep end if your side loses.

In 2004, quite a few liberals had post-election depression syndrone (or whatever it was called). So falling into a state that requires psychiatric intervention over one election doesn't make much sense.

No matter who wins this election, we will still have South Park, the Detroit Lions will still suck, and I will still be fighting a battle to lose 10 pounds.

vegetius said...

Tomorrow is the first day of the 2008 campaign;-)

Zeb Quinn said...

There's no question that the collective mental health of the democrat party has gone cattywhompers over the last number of years, and it shows itself in myriad ways. And it isn't just this year either. They were whacked out in 2004. And and in 2002 (remember the Wellstone funeral?). And of course in 2000. Me, I trace a big part of it back to 1998-99, when they sold their souls to keep Clinton in the White House. When they should have been indignantly demanding his resignation, they were holding pep rallies for him, enabling him with bromides like "everybody lies," and digging in their heels to "not allow the religious right to have this victory." That kind of moral and ethical sell-out does things to you. It fractures your psyche. You lose your bearings. Right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. Things become disproportionately magnified. Irrationality ensues. And that's what we see with a whole lot of these people.

Bob said...

"[I]t would be a mass suicide" - Look out below, Chris Matthews from the 20th floor! Maybe Howard Dean will actually spontaneously combust on some cable news interview when somehow asks, "So, what went wrong?"

It will probably be ugly in Punditland and Blogoville tomorrow, regardless of the results, but if the Dems don't get boffo landslide numbers it'll be crazy ugly. And don't you just know I'd love to see that!

Paco Wové said...

"It's just politics."

Just polititcs? Just politics?! If they win, it's the END of the WOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!

Internet Ronin said...

Contrary to widespread belief of those populating the fringes of both sides of our political spectrum, whatever happens today, the republic shall survive.

AllenS said...

I just returned from voting in Alden town, Polk County, WI. New this year: instead of the paper ballots, where you filled in a circle, then folded the paper in half, before stuffing it into a cardboard box, we have a large hard piece of paper that you filled in a line between an arrow and a solid line, then you stuck it into an electronic eyeball machine to have your ballot counted. You could even tell if it accepted it. GO VOTE!

paul a'barge said...

"It's just politics"

It certainly is, and that makes for a fortuitous early reality-check.

Perhaps we as a culture really are more resilient than we believe ... I certainly hope so.

I hate to think of us losing another war because of the Democrats, a la Vietnam.

Gahrie said...

I agree with the earlier post that traces the ugliness and rancor on the left when they lose elections back to their defense of Pres. Clinton, and the unconcious loss of self respect.

Once you have convinced yourself that political victory is more important than honor and integrity, you are committed to the proposition that nothing is more important.

Defeat cannot be a time for reflection and soul searching, it must be blamed on externals (stupid voters, stolen elections).

Mature and rational Democrats must find a way to restore honor, integrity and self respect to the Democratic party.

Shanna said...

Polls over the weekend suggested that the contest was tightening
Why is everybody mentioning this? Don't the polls always tighten the closer we get to the atual race?

I'm sort of amused at the idea of a massive breakdown because they didn't win by enough. I guess that's mean, but come on. People like this need to get to the shrink, asap.

Sloanasaurus said...

A democratic take over of the House should be treated as a victory for Dems and nothing less. I don't get this expectations game... it reminds me of Wall Street.

However, the election is not a victory for liberalism or leftism. Most of the democratic pickups are conservatives who offer an alternative to conservative leaning voters in conservative leaning districts.

I think if Dems only take the house by 4-5 seats, Pelosi will have trouble being elected Speaker. What newly elected dem in a conservative district wants to cast their first vote to put San Francisco in Power. Pelosi will be a lightning rod. I think Pelosi needs at least a 10-15 seat margin to assure herself of the election.

Goesh said...

"Wow, calm down people! It's just politics." (amen) I thought I would never see the end of the Nixon and Clinton regimes.

The Exalted said...

However, the election is not a victory for liberalism or leftism. Most of the democratic pickups are conservatives who offer an alternative to conservative leaning voters in conservative leaning districts.

screw liberalism, it will be a victory for the rule of law and transparency.

Fenrisulven said...

screw liberalism, it will be a victory for the rule of law and transparency

How is that? I see it as Pelosi et al shielding themselves behind those principles to damage the GOP poltically. They're not interested in the transparency or the rule of law for its own sake.

Simon said...

Sloanasaurus said...
"A democratic take over of the House should be treated as a victory for Dems and nothing less."

I disagree. This is a President's second midterm election, and historically, there is a par for this particular course: the President's party usually loses a certain number of seats. I can't remember off the top of my head what the average is, but if the Dems fail to break par, even if they gain seats, that will be a hideous failure. In this electoral climate, anything short of taking back control of the House by a comfortable margin should be considered a major loss for the Dems.

Elizabeth said...

Who are these pundits? This isn't the attitude I've been seeing on liberal blogs. The prevailing sense I've gotten is hopeful but cautious. This reeks of the same media punditry that was reporting on the expectation of violence in Iraq after Saddam's death penalty, rather than waiting to report on any actual violence.

Fenrisulven said...

I can't remember off the top of my head what the average is

25 for the House.

Internet Ronin said...

This reeks of the same media punditry that was reporting on the expectation of violence in Iraq after Saddam's death penalty, rather than waiting to report on any actual violence.

I agree. In fact, I submit that most of what passes for news these days, on the tube or in print, is nothing more than speculation, and typically uninformed speculation at that.

Garage Mahal said...

I'm just waiting for the impending "disaster" of the Democrats picking up the House. That they only won by [insert number] seats.

Whatever does happen, it will only help Republicans in the end.

Fenrisulven said...

In the piece, Phillips noted four elections falling on the second midterm of a two-term presidency: 1938 (Franklin D. Roosevelt), 1958 (Dwight Eisenhower), 1966 (John Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson) and 1974 (Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford). The average loss for the president’s party in those four elections was 53 House seats and 7 Senate seats, huge numbers when compared to almost any election.

http://rothenbergpoliticalreport.blogspot.com/2005/09/midterms-spell-trouble-but-itch-theory.html

Fenrisulven said...

I'm just waiting for the impending "disaster" of the Democrats picking up the House. That they only won by [insert number] seats.

Has it occured to you that the Dems may not win the House? I know conventinal wisdom is Dems take the House, Republicans keep the Senate, but I think Kerry really helped GOP turnout. I'm still predicting that we'll hold both.

Simon said...

Fen,
Right. So in point of fact, they have to take back the House with a comfortable margin just to break par.

I think it asks too much to hope that we'll retain the House, but check out this hopelessly optimistic post from Dean Barnett.

Simon said...

Incidentally, Fen, if the Democrats don't take the House, I'd strap in and prepare for actual physical violence. These people have convinced themselves that if they don't win, we cheated. All that anger and fury may well spill over onto the streets if they don't take the House.

Too Many Jims said...

Fen and Simon,

So the Dems need to rack up a big House win for it to count as a win because of the dreaded "six year itch"? Why, because in the sixth year of FDR's presidency voters decided that the Dem majority should go from +246 to +93 after 8 years of 6 years of the Depression continuing under FDR? Or because the government's farm policies became unpoplar among the Republican base and so R's lost 48 seats? Or (even assuming that Johnson had a 6 year election)because the Vietnam War was so unpopular? Or because people were disgusted with the corruption of Watergate (assuming Ford had a 6 year election)?

Simon said...

Jim,
Well, it's partly that, and it's partly that this Congress is so chronically unpopular, that it has failed so completely to satisfy its own base, let alone the average voter. I think David Brooks had it about right a couple of months ago - if the Democrats can't win an election in this political climate, they might as well give up and go home, because any opposition party that was even vaguely competant or credible should be able to sleepwalk to an overwhelming victory in this climate.

Garage Mahal said...

Has it occured to you that the Dems may not win the House? I know conventinal wisdom is Dems take the House, Republicans keep the Senate, but I think Kerry really helped GOP turnout. I'm still predicting that we'll hold both.

Has it occured to me? Yes!

Right. So in point of fact, they have to take back the House with a comfortable margin just to break par.

This is what I mean. If the Dems take the House, no matter by how many, it will never be enough. Drudge will put it up, and it will get carried by blogs, and into cable news.

Too Many Jims said...

Simon,

I agree that if the leaders of the Dems can't win this they are incompetent. My quibble with your framing is using the word "overwhelming". (I didn't see the Brooks piece to which you refer but I am pretty sure the George Will statement to the same effect did not include the addition of "overwhelming".)

In my eyes there are several reasons an overwhelming house majority is much less likely than such swings were prior to 1974. The three most prominent to my way of thinking are:

1. The massive fundraising advantages the Republicans have been able to exploit (admittedly legal in almost all instances) in the past 6 years.

2. The use of gerrymandering. (We have always had gerrymandering but it usually had been reserved for adjustments after a census was taken. Further, it is much mor sophisticaed now.)

3. I think elections are much more "parliamentary" now than they used to be. Perhaps my view is naive, but my sense is that people used to elect their representatives because of what the represntative did and said. My sense is that a much higher percentage are voting for their representative based on who will control congress. In this election I suspect it cuts both ways. If Dems win, it will largely be because of the Iraq war; by the same token, if Republicans win it will largely be because of the Iraq war. For instance, I bet Chafee gets a much higher conservative turn out than he has in the past.

MadisonMan said...

It's curious to read people writing that losing the house is a win. Or that winning the house is a loss. I just checked. It's dark outside this sunny day. I think I'll go down to the top of the building to double check. :)

Fenrisulven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fenrisulven said...

So the Dems need to rack up a big House win for it to count as a win because of the dreaded "six year itch"?

No. You guys are confusing "win" with breakng par. You can "win" the Masters by shooting +20. Even if Tiger shot that and "won", he's be kicking himslef. The point we're making is that Dems are underperforming. As screwed up as the GOP congress-critters have been over the last two years, you should sweep by 30+ seats.

It's curious to read people writing that losing the house is a win.

We're not saying that. If the Dems take the House its a "win". Granting that, its not unreasonable to look ahead - if they win this battle, how will it set them up to win the war in 08, when even more GOP seats are open, as well as POTUS?

If Pelosi et al have/don't have enough of a margin/mandate, will they be viewed as part of the problem [and not the solution] in 08? You're also forgetting that SCOTUS seats should be open by then - the liberals on the court are teetering on death/retirement. A "win" by the Dems in 06 could set them up for a massive defeat in 08.

11:36 AM, November 07, 2006

Fenrisulven said...

Incidentally, Fen, if the Democrats don't take the House, I'd strap in and prepare for actual physical violence

I've already prepared. I saw alot of that tlak on DU and Kos after the last election. All they lack is a charismatic painter to lead them.

And I agree that my prediction re the House is too optimistic. A more reasonable call would be Dem control with less than 20 pickups. But I'm counting on the fact that national polls are over-weighted towards Dems and also not proportional to each district.

Garage Mahal said...

2. The use of gerrymandering. (We have always had gerrymandering but it usually had been reserved for adjustments after a census was taken. Further, it is much mor sophisticaed now.)

This is why Democratic Governorship pickups would be huge for Dems. Between 9-10 pickups is what they are predicting. We'll see.

Coco said...

"A "win" by the Dems in 06 could set them up for a massive defeat in 08."

What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory? Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?

Fenrisulven said...

What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory? Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?

Another loss would send them into the wilderness where they could get their act together, must like the GOP after Goldwater's defeat. They would come back behaving like adults, defending America, fighting terrorism. That would be bad for the GOP but good for the nation.

Lamont getting trounced may help. But they really need to do something about their Moonbat hate-America frothing lunatic wing. It hurts them nationally.

Consider the number of former Dems on this very blog [including the hostess] who would flock back to the Dem party if it became more reasonable and more centrist.

tjl said...

"A "win" by the Dems in 06 could set them up for a massive defeat in 08."

Very likely. Pelosi will find it hard to resist rewarding the Democratic base, and the Democratic base will be calling for blood. Take a look at Paul Krugman or the Daily Kos.

The Democratic freshmen come from districts that normally tend Republican. If Pelosi unleashes an orgy of partisan reprisal (as already promised by Conyers. et al.) those freshmen can forget about reelection in '08.

The Dems could avoid this scenario only if Pelosi runs the House in a way that shows moderation and statesmanship. Don't count on it.

Simon said...

Jim,
The Brooks comment I'm thinking of was on The News Hour a few months ago; I concede that "overwhelming" may connote more than I had in mind, but what I meant was, if they can't win a sufficient majority to be able to implement the clear majority of their agenda over the combined votes of the GOP and a few stray blue dogs.

As to fundraising and gerrymandering. I don't think the GOP's fundraising in this cycle has been vastly in excess of total Democrat fundraising, and in 2004, the Dems actually beat the GOP in fundraising. They still lost. And while I unhesitatingly agree that gerrymandering has become a problem, the Democrats have been just as effective at it as have the Republicans. This is a bipartisan problem; everyone points to the big Texas Gerrymander carried out at DeLay's behest, but what is usually forgotten -- and what was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in League v. Perry -- is that the DeLay gerrymander was at least in part a reaction to an even worse Democratic gerrymander carried out a decade before. Moreover, if a bunch of statehouses go blue this week, do we think that the Democrats will hold themselves above the fray, or do we think they will succumb to the temptation to cement their shiny new House majority?

MadisonMan,
I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that losing the House is a "win" for the GOP, but I would go so far as to say that losing the House has a silver lining. First, it punishes the CGOP, and in conservative circles, there is a strong sentiment that our members of Congress have failed, and that we should take them to the woodshed for some punishment. The counterbalancing point is that, is it really worth sitting through two years of Speaker Pelosi just to clean house? Well, whichever side you come down on, that calculus goes out of the window if the dems win, which leaves us with, you guessed it, the silver lining. And second, as other posters have alluded to, we think the Dems are going to blow it, as I explained here.

Simon said...

Coco said...
"What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory? Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?"

Yes, there is. If we lose the Senate, that would be a total and unmitigated disaster. Not because the Senate has been any better than the House - in point of fact, in many ways, they have been worse - but there is simply too much riding on our control of the Senate for any silver lining not to be entirely blotted out by the cloud. So yes, certainly there is an outcome tonight that I would regard as catastrophic, not for the Republican party, but for the future of law in the United States.

MadisonMan said...

I'm unsure about Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Some here clearly see her as some uberLiberal Thomasina DeLay, but I just don't see that happening. If it does, Democrats will very properly get spanked in '08.

Michael Babin said...

"A "win" by the Dems in 06 could set them up for a massive defeat in 08."

What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory? Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?


It's like the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition:

Rule 34: Peace is good for business.
Rule 35: War is good for business.

As Quark himself once said, it's easy to get them confused. :-)

Mike said...

I figure I win no matter who takes the House. If the Dems win, I get to watch Pelosi et al. restructure the house, fight about impeachment, etc. If the Dems lose, I get to watch the left have a nervous breakdown. Both events will be entertaining.

Now, if the Dems win the Senate, that could be bad.

Coco said...

"But they really need to do something about their Moonbat hate-America frothing lunatic wing."

I'm not even going to read this until you add in a few more frothing, lunatic adjectives.

ALso, be careful, if the Democrats grow up and just start acting like Republicans then what would people who froth against Democrats in 20 blog posts a day do for a living?

Mike said...

Coco said: "ALso, be careful, if the Democrats grow up and just start acting like Republicans ..."

If the Democrats grow up, they won't be acting like Republican. They'll be acting like grown ups.

I'm not holding my breath, though.

Balfegor said...

Re: Coco:
What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory? Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?

I think the issue here is that Republicans see history on their side, so that the end result is just varying levels of Republican (or at least conservative) domination down the line.

For my part, "tactically," I think a Republican loss in the House would be best, because I think that for the Republicans to win this election sets them up to get absolutely massacred in 2008, when the Presidency is on the line too.

But I still have to say I am rooting for the Democrats to get dealt one more defeat. I derive great pleasure from watching the Democrats lose. Not so much because I want the Republicans to win -- as many have commented throughout this election, they don't much deserve to -- as because I dislike the Democratic party.

ALso, be careful, if the Democrats grow up and just start acting like Republicans then what would people who froth against Democrats in 20 blog posts a day do for a living?

Vote for them.

Shanna said...

But I still have to say I am rooting for the Democrats to get dealt one more defeat. I derive great pleasure from watching the Democrats lose.
It would be amusing to watch the total meltdown, but I'm afraid it would also be extremely uncomfortable.

But tactically I could deal with a Republican house loss. I just hate to see either party rewarded for their behavior. I actually may vote Green as a protest.

Pogo said...

Geez, why can't both parties lose this one?

I will vote at 6 p.m., then go take a shower. Or two.

Revenant said...

What the hell does a loss do? Set them up for a massive victory?

Sort of, yes.

Democrats are gaining in popularity not because of anything they've done, but because Republicans are seen as governing badly. Discontent with the Republicans keeps getting worse and worse, and the longer the Republicans manage to avoid paying the price for it, the bigger the bill will ultimately be.

Is there any result that could ever not be good for Republicans?

The Republicans are blessed with opponents who have no coherent ideology beyond "we're not Republicans". Because of this, the only thing that's good for Democrats is when Republicans screw up. They can't screw up when they're not in charge, which puts the Democrats in an impossible position, so far as holding onto power is concerned.

Balfegor said...

It would be amusing to watch the total meltdown, but I'm afraid it would also be extremely uncomfortable.

Fortunately I am a horrible person, so this is not a concern for me. Alas, I am unlikely to get the satisfaction.

Derve said...

Discontent with the Republicans keeps getting worse and worse, and the longer the Republicans manage to avoid paying the price for it, the bigger the bill will ultimately be.

Can you acknowledge this holds for the War as well as the election?

Fenrisulven said...

No. The war on terror is happening one way or the other, whether you approve of it or not. The only choice you have in the matter is which side will win.

Derve said...

The only choice you have in the matter is which side will win.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride;
If dreams had wings, we can be Pegasus and fly.

Rowena Hullfire said...

I've been spewing bile like an attack ad...literally...so I voted very early this morning in case I was admitted to the hospital after my gall bladder ultrasound.

I was surprised to see such a huge crowd there voting so early. Perhaps there's a good level of energization ?! for this midterm election. I don't know if it's from the national picture; I expect our porkmeister GOP congresscritter to win re-election in a landslide; there just wasn't a race there. Perhaps it's state level: a very well known, popular local lady is running (D) against a fool (R) for state representative...and we peasants with pitchforks are rather pissed about our corrupt governor...we don't want him to retain any power in the state house. The county judge executive race and judge's races have been interesting, to say the least. This is one of the biggest ballots in Kentucky's history.

My brother in law is running for state representative in Iowa. Vote for David Kendell, if you are in his district! Go Dave! He's a Republican in Democrat land, but it's Iowa democrats, they aren't as deranged as what you see on the blogs. They're more like ordinary people traditional democrats. Dave lost county supervisor re-election in 2004 because of straight ticket voting, and the county ended up with a supreme idiot as supervisor and a lot of people have apologized to Dave and swore they'd never do that again. Why did they vote straight ticket? D party operatives pushed it, with absentee ballots, and so everyone in Jackson County, Iowa paid the price.

Anyway...off to see the surgeon tomorrow to have my gall bladder ripped out. Unless I have another attack tonight, then I'm supposed to go to the ER. However, I'm hoping I'm OK tonight because I want to watch the hyperventilation, sackcloth, and ashes, and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the late night returns on telly.

Ain't democracy grand?

Gregg said...

Jonestown is a perfect analogy for most of the Dems today - they're acting like members of an irrational paranoid cult.

Dems did riot when they lost a ballot initiative in Colorado in 1992. That didn't get much coverage, but the courts threw out the initiative. I expect more of the same tonight, both in Colorado and in other places where Dems lose. This time, with blogs, there may be some real coverage of the riots and, ideally, some real consequences for the rioters.

Revenant said...

Can you acknowledge this holds for the War as well as the election?

That's a silly idea.

Fenrisulven said...

via Redstate - Dem's hijack polling locales:

"In wards 7, 19, 51 in Philly, PA, the crowds are going wild. Inside several voting locations, individuals have poured white out onto the polling books and the poll workers are allowing voters to go into the polls and vote without first registering. Several individuals are on hand demanding that voters vote straight Democrat.

RNC lawyers have headed to the scene of the incidents, which are occurring in mostly hispanic precinct locations. The District Attorney has also been contacted.

More from the ground: Reports of voter intimidation by son-in-law of Philadelphia City Commissioner in 19th Ward. Carlos Mantos is not allowing Republican poll watchers with valid poll-watching certificates monitor polling places."

Malkin has more.

http://www.redstate.com/stories/elections/2006/breaking_philly_fraud

The Exalted said...

fenris,

as far as i can tell, this story is not real. i think "pouring whiteout onto polling books" would make the news everywhere.

not that you care, obviously.

cheers.

The Exalted said...

Fenrisulven said...
screw liberalism, it will be a victory for the rule of law and transparency

How is that? I see it as Pelosi et al shielding themselves behind those principles to damage the GOP poltically. They're not interested in the transparency or the rule of law for its own sake.

9:25 AM, November 07, 2006


heh. we're not even in same galaxy, not sure if any kind of dialogue is possible.

dont keep yourself up too late thinking of your democratic boogeymen.

Revenant said...

it will be a victory for the rule of law and transparency

Is this love of "transparency" something new that Democrats have discovered in the last six years? Because Clinton was famous for claiming executive privledge whenever Congress or a judge tried to get him to reveal information he didn't want to reveal.

It is natural for people who aren't in power to want to hold those who are accountable, or at least to weaken them by forcing them to reveal their mistakes. But it isn't a principle that any national-level politicians in America today truly embrace when *they* are in power.