Monday, December 12, 2005

A political question for our readers 

Looking for today's Note, I finally read Friday's Note. Therein resides a well-framed question:
Which hand would you rather play in 2006: the Republicans (with the facts on the Iraq ground) or the Democrats (with the Pelosi-Dean-Kerry-Murtha-Lieberman-blog-donor-Clinton-Edwards-Kerrey-Reid-Nelson-Nelson split)?

Please spew your thoughts into the comments. Try to be as analytical as possible. As entertaining as rabid frothing may be, it gets in the way of the inquiry.


By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Mon Dec 12, 12:09:00 PM:

Tricky, isn't it? So much depends on the situation on the ground in Iraq by next November. I expect that we'll pull some troops out in the summer, declaring victory, and this will bump the Republican numbers up. The facts coming out of Iraq are difficult to integrate and decipher. Schools are being built while police are being murdered. One area is secured and another falls into the hands of one of the various violent groups.

Fitzgerald's continuing investigation into misconduct in efforts to quash dissenting voices may well play a large role in the White House's approval, and this will trickle down to Congressional and Senate races.

Economic numbers, as we've gone back and forth about at ScruHoo, are also mixed. If middle and poor Americans notice that their wages are stagnant, that their health benefits suck, and that their pension agreements are at great risk, then Republicans could quickly fall flat on their asses. But if middle and poor America get excited about the growth in the stock market and record corporate profits, none of which they will ever see in their bank accounts, then Republicans walk away with it.

Multiple Republican corruption scandals at all levels of government will likely have continued traction. Republicans will need to distance themselves from their ethically and criminally challenged cohorts. If Republicans try to use the "Democrats do it too!" defense, we'll see voter numbers decline, and the Conventional Wisdom is that lower voter participation favors the Republican party.

The Democratic party is, to put it roughly, split into two factions: The Howard Dean wing and the Hillary Clinton wing. The Howard Dean wing is a bottom-up, grassroots approach while the Clinton wing is a top-down approach more like the national Republican party. It's the Howard Dean wing that has a better chance of pulling in disaffected voters, while the Hillary wing will more likely pull in moderate centrists who watch too much TV.

If the Democrats can't unite, then they'll do worse than they ought to. If the Republicans can't change course and work towards limiting corruption, altering course in Iraq, and having any sort of policy position that benefits middle America and the poor, then they'll do worse than they ought to.

Also, Bush really needs to get on the stick regarding Katrina reconstruction efforts. Mississippi and Louisiana will turn bluer than Papa Smurf over the next ten years if he doesn't.

If I had to choose, I'd rather be on the Democratic Party's side, though unless Howard Dean can continue to transform the party, it'll be a "hold my nose and vote" cycle yet again.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Mon Dec 12, 01:12:00 PM:

The question is a restatement of Kerry's 04 quandry. A majority of general election voters dislike the War. However, there is resistance to all-out 'cut & run'. The problem for the Donks is that a majority of its activists endorse wholesale departure. So it's a tightrope for the Dems. I agree with screwy: much depends on the state of the ground war, or perception thereof, as of Nov. 06. Voter ambivalence will break for the GOP, at least in the House. I disagree with screwy insofar as domestic issues, which won't be particularly material if gas prices hold.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 01:33:00 PM:

Considering the results of the latest ABC News and BBC poll, I'd rather be on the GOP side. But I have to admit that since Carter's term I would always rater be on the GOP side....I find no attraction in the type of moral dishonesty exemplified by Carter's acceptance of tne Nobel prize, Murtha's pull back call, Hillary's strategic midle of the road position on every issue, Kerry's long term treasonos behaviour or Dean's scream.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Mon Dec 12, 01:44:00 PM:

I would chime in that Screwy and I can agree on something -- notably the split in the Democratic Party re: the war in Iraq. Call it the split between the Clinton / Lieberman wing and the Dean Wing.

It calls to mind the 1968 split and the unfortunate 1968 Democratic convention. This split about war and its management bodes ill for the Democratic Party...as it did in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988 and 2004. When there is a conflict apparent to the American people, they have not shown confidence in the Democratic Party's ability to manage it.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Mon Dec 12, 01:59:00 PM:

If the general concensus of the US is that the war was a bad idea, the populace ought to go for someone who had the vision to see it would be a bad idea.

If the concensus is it was a good idea, but poorly executed, they should vote for a war supporter who was not involved in the execution.

Dems have both of those. The question is whether the right person emerges from the primaries and how bloody his/her nose gets.

Should the concensus become that it was a successful war, the Dems are screwed.  

By Blogger Martin Weiss, at Mon Dec 12, 02:02:00 PM:

The Dems do not have to have a unified position or even a coherent position to do well in 2006.

They have the liberal media on their side. This is worth quite a few votes because the liberal media can be counted on to hype bad economic news or even make stuff up if needed.

The Dems also have a highly motivated base. This is very important dollar-wise and very important raw vote wise in about a half dozen districts.  

By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Mon Dec 12, 02:07:00 PM:

For Jeebus' sake, enough with the liberal media nonsense...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 02:29:00 PM:

Gimme the Republican hand! We didn't want to be the world's policeman, but that's the hand we've been dealt... we are the only grown-up nation on this God-blessed planet, the only one willing to work hard now and to keep an eye on a future full of hope...
The Dimocrats are Euro-lite, full of the rhetoric of fairness, etc, but willing to kowtow to evil if it preserves their precious status quo...
I get a little tired with all the political insider stuff, what matters are the purple fingers in Iraq, the unrest in Libya, the foment in Egypt, the gradual resolution of Israel's borders... Who is on the right side of history? That's what matters... following WWII, Winston Churchill was almost immediately voted out of office... do you know who replaced him? Neither do I... and our great-grand kids, going to GWB High School, won't remember Pelosi, Reid, et al...  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Mon Dec 12, 03:06:00 PM:

What's interesting is that most House seats are safe. Only a handful (30-40) House seats are in play in any election. So the Donks need something akin to a wholesale slaughter in order to regain control of the House.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 03:41:00 PM:

I'm still laughing over "please spew your thoughts..." :)  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Mon Dec 12, 03:49:00 PM:

I think local politics play out using a vastly different dynamic than national politics.

Look at what happened in Virginia. That was spun as some rebuke for The Shrub, but what I saw was basically happy people replacing a Democrat with a Democrat. No change.

The economy, in most parts of the country right now, is strong even if most people are too poorly informed to know it. I think most people are fairly content with things at the local level, but the corruption scandals have hurt the Republican party even though they were inevitable given our majority in Congress. Both parties have their corrupt jackasses, and we happen to be in the spotlight at the moment with the added inducement of being in the majority to make the greedy ones careless. Hopefully we'll use the extra illumination to clean house a bit - it's long past due.

With the war ongoing and no bad news at home, I doubt most folks are looking for a major shakeup on Capitol Hill. 2008, on the otter heiny is entirely another kettle of fish.

I will be astounded if we don't see a Democrat in the White House. I think it's just the pendulum, swinging back. But if Condi runs, all bets are off.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Mon Dec 12, 04:03:00 PM:

Cass. I concur that the Dems' greatest asset is the natural counterbalance of American politics (the GOP fatigue factor). However, the Dems are fully capable of dropping that ball.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Dec 12, 04:38:00 PM:

After the Depression, the Democrats reigned supreme for 20+ years. Same with the Republicans after the Civil War. The "pendulum effect" doesn't always work.

House incumbents are traditionally the most secure of any political position above the state level. I don't expect to see much change this election. Besides, it's an off year election, which implies lower voter turnouts which, as has been mentioned, tends to favor Republicans.

I don't think that anyone can start making any kind of solid predictions about 2008 until this time next year. It depends on how things in Iraq turn out, and if there are new major terrorist attacks, an Iranian war, economic trouble, et cetera.  

By Blogger Catchy Pseudonym, at Mon Dec 12, 05:20:00 PM:

I'm curious because of what Dawnfire said, as to what effect people think a new terrorrist attack on the US would have on the political landscape and future elections. Would they blame Bush, or embrace him even more? I don't want to hijack this thread. But I am still curious.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 12, 05:33:00 PM:

Sorry to say but I like Jude's Theory that the correct person is elected every time. I believe that is particularly true at the national level. Example (writ large) I don't like Klintoon but look at the alternatives.... Ya get what is paid for...


By Blogger Chris Lawrence, at Mon Dec 12, 08:43:00 PM:

In 2006, I'd rather be an incumbent... and, unless there's a huge surge of Republican retirements or a House-wide scandal, that portends well for the GOP--even with historical midterm loss by the president's party (which hasn't happened in the last two midterm races).

That said, if I were running a national campaign, I'd prefer to be working with the GOP message: troop withdrawals by mid-06 will undercut the only real Democratic message with "legs," and the economic recovery will be readily apparent to voters, which helps the in-party.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 13, 12:06:00 AM:

Always go with truth. Easier to defend. Donks lose, big time.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Dec 13, 04:27:00 AM:

"Would they blame Bush, or embrace him even more?"

It disappoints me that people would do either. The president has virtually nothing to do with the actual day to day legwork of intelligence, unless something politically sensitive pops up. Kinda like with the economy.

That aside, he'd probably get some blame because such a thing happened "on his watch" and unlike 9/11, he's been around long enough beforehand to ostensibly have had some means to interfere. But he is not incumbent, so it shouldn't hurt his party unless his successor candidate is Donald Rumsfeld (gods help us) or something, and the Democrats are weak on defense; they protest otherwise, but 90% of the Army votes Republican. A GOP 'fighter,' someone with a history or at least a reputation of being pro-active on defense would get a boost. IMO, of course.  

By Blogger Dave Justus, at Tue Dec 13, 08:17:00 AM:

The truest maxim in politcs is 'you can't beat something with nothing.'

With their dissarray and confusion, my read is the democracts got nothing.  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Tue Dec 13, 10:30:00 AM:

Although I am usually optimistic, I would rather have the Democrats' hand in 2006. I don't think they will gain control of either house, but they are likely to make significant inroads.

Why? GOP fatigue, major fatigue with the Iraq war, the US's success in thwarting further terror attacks in this country (which makes the security issues seem less urgent), and finally the relentless negativism of the liberal US media. The media's perverse, insatiable and profoundly unpatriotic appetite for stories of American failure means that the good news that's out there (e.g., a really robust US economy and the many positive things happening in Iraq and elsewhere) is underreported and spun negatively.  

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