Thursday, October 14, 2010

19 Days til....

In just 19 days, millions of Americans will go the polls in what is sure to be a memorable mid-term election. How memorable of an election all depends on who you ask of course. Many Republicans would try to convince you (and themselves) that this year's elections will be something close "tsunami" if 1994. Some Democrats (including the Vice President) actually try to convince people that the Democrats have a real chance at maintaining their majorities in Congress. What is the truth? Well, even though we still have 19 days til the election, thanks to polling data all over the nation and the good people at the New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog we can make a pretty good educated guess.

As of their latest projections, this is the outcome FiveThirtyEight is predicting according to the latest available polling data (October 8-12):

House of Representatives
  • Republicans- 226.5 seats

  • Democrats-208.5 seats

  • Independents-0.0 seats


  • Republicans- 47.9 seats

  • Democrats- 52.0 seats

  • Independents- 0.1 seats

Now, assuming the math behind these projections is correct, the results we will see this Novemember will hardly be a "tsunami" but it will radicially change the dynamics of Washington D.C. The Republicans would have a fairly strong majority in the House of Representatives though not as great as the Democrats now and likewise the Democrats will still have a pretty strong presence compared to the current Republican minority. However, the real difference will be in how each party conducts themselves while the majority.

Democrats in their short rule of the House have passed several major pieces of legislation but have also had problems with party unity and keeping promise made before they came into the majority in 2006 (especially in the area of ethics). Republicans on the other hand don't traditionally have alot of internal problems and often more united in the political positions. Even with the election of so-called Tea Party candidates, this isnt likely going to change as long as President Obama is in office.

The Senate is another story entirely. If these projections hold true, the Democrats will retain their majority but just barely. This will present a rather interesting situation in the Senate. The threat of Filibuster by Republicans will only be more real and could result in a deadlocked Senate. Its even possible Republicans could draw in several more conservative Democrats on important votes and therefore not even need to filibuster. No matter what though, its likely the Senate will not be a very active body after the election (which is a sad statement to begin with).

In fact many Republicans, including prominent members like Senator Jim DeMint have called for a deadlock should they not get their way. The idea of a standstill in the Senate and the whole of Congress will remind many of a similar event after the 1994 mid-terms over the budget. The idea of a similar event is not likely to win any votes considering how ineffective and lazy most Americans already think Congress is..Just imagine how they will feel when one of the major parties has the equivalent of a hissy fit and causes the entire government to grind to a hault. Now whether such a standstill is going to happen we can only guess, but it's just one of many possibilities of what the Congress will look like after the mid-terms.

Sadly though, I think anyone who thinks these elections are going to be some radical change or some great improvement are going to be disappointed. I myself am a rather cynical political wonk who sees both parties are being dysfunctional and self-centered in their own ways and don't hold much hope either party is ready or willing to create any real political change in America. In my mind, should Republicans come to power in the House, it is going to just be politics as usual and they will be more focused on the elections in 2012 than getting something accomplished or showing any real national leadership. This is just politics as usual in America and I haven't seen any reason to believe any different..But of course I could be wrong and perhaps the Republicans will really take charge and focus on the deficit as they have promised and not focus too much on partisan politics but I'm not going to hold my breath...

Regardless, I really want to give kudos to the people behind the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times for their impressive set of information, polling data, and great articles on this years elections. We need more sites like these out there to better educate the American voter..Many thanks!

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