Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bad news for incumbents 

Somewhat better news for Democrats, according to a new AP-GfK poll:
People want Democrats to control Congress after this fall's elections, a shift from April, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Saturday. But the margin is thin and there's a flashing yellow light for incumbents of both parties: Only about one-third want their own lawmakers re-elected.

The tenuous 45 percent to 40 percent preference for a Democratic Congress reverses the finding a month ago on the same question: 44 percent for Republicans and 41 percent for Democrats.
(Emphasis added)

I am not sure precisely how the two notions reconcile themselves mathematically -- that is, since many more incumbents are presently Democrats, a two-thirds attrition rate would hit that party much harder in the House and Senate. The analysis would need to be done seat by seat and account for a primary loss by an incumbent, but the party of the incumbent keeping the seat in November. An example of that would be in Pennsylvania, if Sestak beats Specter on Tuesday, and then Sestak beats Toomey in November.

It will be interesting to see if news about the financial markets (and the recent gyrations of equity markets in particular) will play as important a roll in the 2010 midterms as it did in the last few months of the 2008 elections. It isn't clear at this point whether there would be a significant net advantage to either party if the PIIGS debt crisis intensifies, and drives equities lower around the world, but results in a flight to Treasuries of various maturities in the U.S., driving prices higher and yields lower.


By Blogger Georg Felis, at Sun May 16, 12:21:00 AM:

Isn't this the same kind of poll as the one that showed Democrats and Republicans tied just before November 1994?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 16, 09:54:00 AM:

I'll stick by my thesis that the much-anticipated Republican gains in Congress will not materialize. Republicans will gain some seats, but not as many as have been tossed about in the media. Democrats will retain control of both houses.

Democrats will successfully paint Republicans as the party of Wall Street, Big Insurance, and Big Oil. They can do this because the facts support the charges. Republicans have become the party of bank bailouts for billionaires and unlimited bonuses for Wall Street bankers and CEOs, but no unemployment extensions for working stiffs laid off in a global depression. Good luck running on that platform. These wounds are self-inflicted.

Separately, I suspect you saw the news that Goldman Sachs, among others, made money trading in every single trading day of the last quarter. A perfect record. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Sun May 16, 11:51:00 AM:

It's a long way still from here to November.

Expect the following "known knowns" to develop:

Unemployment will still be at "Grapes of Wrath" levels in much of the country. It'll have an unusual distribution -- Blue States are bearing the brunt, except for the DC-area donut hole.

Obama will keep himself in the news all the time. He can't help himself. It's his world, we just live in it. It's clear he doesn't share our pain. In ObamaLand we're not all equal pigs, are we? This will create a backlash, ultimately.

Obama will push Energy, but it won't even play as well as Healthcare. Energy does nothing for no one -- except for deluded greenies and Van Jones hustlers.

The Doc Fix will have to be dealt with. Ordinarily this wouldn't get any attention, but Obama & Co put so much weight on the CBO saying that Healthcare would cut the deficit that it got Katie Couric to chirp that Healthcare had a "certified price tag." This will come up in the Fall in the context of Obama's Second Budget -- adding to worries that Obama's First Budget turned out awful.

California will go broke, but I'm not sure if it will happen before November as Stimulus bought the Governator a two-year reprieve. This could be the biggest issue of all, if states like California need bailouts. Queen Nancy will want to do this -- but most House Democrats have to know it's seppuku. In any event, many states and municipalities will be jacking taxes -- they have a high correlation to the places suffering high unemployment -- which in turn have a high correlation to the Blue States.

Elena Kagan may have an easy confirmation ... or not.

Then there are the "uncertain knowns": the Euro, Putin, Iran-Israel, domestic terror attacks, Gitmo closing, KSM trial. A lot of things that could go bad -- little that could go great.

Then there are the "unknown unknowns"

None of these will make Obama look good -- they may make him look Jimmy Carter inept. With Deepwater, Obama has already shown that he's not good when he's not scripted. He's not a crisis manager.

Obama & Co have pissed off some key constituencies: white working class males, Jews. The young are either bored or unemployed. Watch for Obama to continue to find ways to activate black, union and Hispanic turnout.

This will all result in a lot of anger come November. Expect high turnout from pissed-off independents. Ordinarily they don't vote much in mid-terms and break closer than 55%-45% -- Not this time. Independents have gone from being a +3% total credit for Obama to as much as -10% or more liability in the total vote -- that's a huge swing. Here's a key question -- do pissed off independents vote against Republican incumbents too, or not?

Anger over Wall Street, etc. may be a factor -- or not. From my day job I thought we would have seen a lot more anti-Wall Street prosecutions by now. These may have been "saved" because of political timing. NYAG Andy Cuomo figures here. But I don't expect "Wall Street" to be a big issue by November. Most Americans don't know from Goldman Sachs.

The Republicans have kept their powder dry -- and should until August into September. Expect them to frame this as a national referendum on Queen Nancy and Obama.

I still stand by Republicans +55 in the House. The anger will be there come November.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon May 17, 03:00:00 AM:

"They can do this because the facts support the charges. Republicans have become the party of bank bailouts for billionaires..."

Which was passed by a *Democratic* Congress that took power in *2006*.

"unemployment extensions for working stiffs laid off in a global depression."

Oh, you mean the 'global depression' that kicked off in late 2008, after the Democrats had been in charge of Congress for 2 years? The 'global depression' that existed under a Republican president for 4 months, and under a Democrat (so far)for 16?

Every bit of federal law and governmental action that wasn't a veto or executive order between October 2008 and January 2009 is squarely at the foot of the Democrats. Period.

Pay attention. Especially if you want to talk about "facts."  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Mon May 17, 07:00:00 AM:

"Pay attention. Especially if you want to talk about "facts.""

The 2008 meltdown is seen by most as having happened on Bush's watch. TARP is seen by most as a Bush & Co initiative. It was Hank Paulson after all who asked for a $700 billion blank check. Some Democrats -- e.g. Barney Frank -- are seen as sharing blame.

Because of this, in 2009, Obama blamed the recession on the Republicans ... and most of us agreed.

In 2010, Obama's still blaming the recession on the Republicans ... but far fewer of us agree with him. By November 2010, expect most of us to disagree ... many of us strongly so.

Obama may still try to use Wall Street prosecutions as a way to deflect anger back onto the Republicans. The Republicans also need to avoid being meanies for not extending unemployment benefits.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon May 17, 11:23:00 AM:

@ Dawnfire: Your partisanship is standing in the way of your judgment.

Much as I'd love to blame TARP on the Dems, it just is not credible to do so. As TTOH notes, TARP was constructed by Henry Paulson, a Republican Treasury Secretary in the Republican Bush administration. It was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. The public associates TARP with the Republican party more than the Democratic party, and they are correct.

>> Every bit of federal law and governmental action that wasn't a veto or executive order between October 2008 and January 2009 is squarely at the foot of the Democrats. Period.

Do you hold your fingers in your ears and stamp your feet when you say this to yourself?

Click through and read the poll. The Republican attempt to lay this mess at Obama's feet is not resonating with the public. Congressional Republicans' ratings are lower than Congressional Democrats' ratings. That is not the scent of victory in November.

We are less than six months away from the election and the Republican party has no clear leader, much less a clear agenda on which to run. Opposition, anger, and apathy will give the Republicans some seats, but I don't see control shifting.

On the upside, I think there is a good chance that the economy will be so bad in 2012 that a newly reconstituted Republican party will sweep both houses and take the presidency.  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Mon May 17, 01:54:00 PM:

"The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 7-11 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. It involved cell and landline telephone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points."

I submit that the Rasmussen poll is more accurate than this one, as it looks to likely voters not just random adults. Even when you dig into this poll, it has "strongly dissaprove" of Obama at 33% while "strongly approve" is 22%. Everyone hates Congress.

I also submit that in November 2010 we'll see unusually high turnout from independents for a mid-term and that they'll vote over 60% against Democratic incumbents. Republican turnout will be high. Obama & Co will have a challenge in getting all the segments of their 2008 coaltion to come out in force.

The "anger" level can be stoked up -- Republicans are right to wait. It's dissipated somewhat because we're still in the Sugar Rush phase of Stimulus. My rant above is that if you look at trends between now and November, they don't favor Obama & Co.

Anon 11:23 and I disagree on what will happen in Nov 2010. I don't think the Republicans need a leader or an agenda to do well in Nov 2010 -- 2012 is a different story. He may be right, but let's hope I am.  

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