BASE, COMMON & POPULAR
So Election Day is two days off from Halloween, and as Bob Schieffer cracked on “Face The Nation,” it’s getting harder to tell these holidays apart. Here in New York, we have Carl “I’m as mad as hell” Paladino, doing a great Howard Beale impersonation and Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, looking like a costume-party reveler. Then in Delaware there’s Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnell. 2010 is already one of the most colorful years in American history.
But sideshow aside, I’m focused on an angle (not Sharon Angle) getting little attention, but may become the story of the year. The conventional wisdom believes that 2010 is a repeat of 1994 and that hard-right Republicans will again swoop in and control both houses of Congress. I’m going to buck that trend and suggest that that won’t happen: that Democrats will keep the Senate, and may only lose a thin majority in the House. How is this possible?
Top reasons for an upset in 2010:
1) Diffuse the Anger
First of all, voters are ANGRY, with a ginormous A. That fury has translated into a disrespect for party establishment, and sometimes this is all for the good. But contrary to conventional wisdom, this has not solely been a boom for Republican candidates. One tactic of the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee has been to target vulnerable Republican incumbents who might also get taken down in the antiestablishment tidal wave, or at least make them fight for their political lives. Though Democrats obviously have more to lose this year, if the CDCC can draw some unexpected blood, it should neutralize some of the losses on Tuesday.
2) Early Voting
In Chicago, where President Obama hails from, there’s an old saying: “vote early and vote often.”While the Democrats might best avoid the corrupt part of that exhortation, they have shrewdly figured out that early balloting is a great tool to neutralize the insurgent rage. Organizing for America, President Obama’s umbrella unit, capitalized heavily on the early-voting phenomenon in 2008, and it still has many of those names on its rolls. If Democrats can get a large portion of those who can vote early out this year, it will stun the political world.
3) Even the Money Game
One of the big recent complaints has been about the “secret” money allowed to influence political campaigns since the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision earlier this year. In effect, this allows groups and corporations to make undisclosed contributions which circumvent existing election laws. Of course this decision stinks from the point of view of good-government advocates, but don’t believe the bellyaching of some. Unions and other advocacy groups are pouring millions of undisclosed funds into the 2010 campaign, and as the party in power, the Democrats have had an existing fundraising edge for much of the year. Although I believe all contributions ought to be disclosed by their respective givers, this year at least there will be overall parity in the money game.
4) Tea-Party Fatigue
The New York Times recently spoke about an enthusiasm lag in Colorado’s elections where the Tea-Party backed candidates have slipped in the polls. In Alaska Tea-Party-backed Republican nominee Joe Miller might actually lose his bid, not to incumbent Lisa Murkowski, whom he defeated, but to Scott McAdams the Democrat. The initial excitement which accompanied these upstart candidates has faltered, in part, because of the unprofessionalism of many of these candidates who often bragged about not being professional politicians, as if there was no sweat to being an elected official. The Tea-Party movement will continue to be a force in American politics, but it will have to consist of more prepared and polished leaders
( http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5771002/sarah_palin_superstar.html) .
5) 2010 is NOT 1994
Too many pundits out there are playing amateur historians and comparing this year to the last time Republicans retook the House of Representatives. While it’s okay to note similarities, let’s keep in mind the differences. In 1994, Newt Gingrich was a revolutionary who brilliantly combined bomb-throwing, naked corporate support and a direct appeal to voters called “The Contract With America.” It has so much resonance today, that John Boehner, the House Minority Leader trotted out his own “Pledge To America” as a follow-up, though it was devoid of Gingrich’s revolutionary charisma.
2010 also lacks the post-Reagan American landscape, which repudiated some of the New Left experimentation of the early Clinton Administration. America has become a more progressive country, and one of the reasons that Tea Partiers and others are fighting so vehemently is that theirs is becoming a losing battle. Exhibit A was the election of younger American of African ancestry. Exhibit B was that the Democrats were able to pass something resembling comprehensive health insurance. Anyone who’s read the recent American Progress report knows that the numbers don’t look good for conservatives. Growing numbers of minorities and progressives will serve as the new force in America’s politics. But there is no guarantee that these voters will go Democrat. Quite the contrary, this new decade may indeed signal a Golden Age for Independents.
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy night!”
New York November 1, 2010