Monday, October 25, 2010
We are again pleased to bring electoral prognostications and predictions from our local inveterate consumer of political news, Mike Keller. The views expressed below are solely those of Mr. Keller:
2010 Election Update - Week of October 25
U.S. House of Representatives – Leaning Republican. No change from previous week.
Analysis: Advocates of terms limits for members of Congress have argued that the large number of incumbents who win make a mockery of the idea that the people can make meaningful change in the make-up of legislative bodies. The outcome of last couple of House elections and in 1994 provide evidence that voters do not need extra-constitutional instruments to force current representatives out of their jobs. The people can effect change very nicely, thank you. And this year, the electorate appears poised to dish out another example of its power. While keeping up a brave front publicly, the Democrats know that their position has continued to deteriorate........When a party embarks on as part of its strategy the encouragement of third parties to drain off votes from their main competition (as the Democrats are doing in selected races), it is a clear sign they are in trouble. Republicans are now positioned to capture 220 seats in the new House (two above the majority), the Democrats 178. Of the 37 toss-ups, all but two are being fought on Democratic turf. The arithmetic suggests that the GOP will pick up between 45 and 61 seats in the House, easily gaining control. If this trend proves out at the ballot box, it will represent the third consecutive “wave election” – a very unusual phenomenon in U.S. politics and a reflection of the unsettled nature of the public in the face of stubbornly high unemployment, stagnant wages, and record housing woes. The only good news for the Democrats is that gigantic electoral waves are often followed by a countervailing wave. If the Republican leadership in the House uses its likely new authority to stonewall all of the initiatives of the Obama administration and engages in foolish actions such as shutting down the government, the reaction in 2012 is apt to be sharp. In the meantime, one would not know that an historic election is on tap from the contests in Maryland. Only in the conservative 1st Congressional District will a likely turnover occur.
U.S. Senate – Toss-Up. No change from previous week.
Analysis: Senate contests have tightened up in the past week, putting three additional races (Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Washington State) in the toss-up category along with the five previously reported (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and West Virginia). Senate control rests on the outcome in these eight states. Democrats are currently on track to hold 48 seats in the next Senate, the Republicans 44. Personalities and local issues can have greater impact on Senate elections, especially since the voters are usually more familiar with members of the upper chamber than they are with solons in the House. Hence, while not immune from national surges, Senate races are somewhat more insulated from them. Kentucky represents the only state in which a Republican-held Senate seat is now in jeopardy, as libertarian upstart Rand Paul is seeing his poll numbers fall. However, those of Attorney General Jack Conway are not rising. Paul has made missteps, but Conway’s support during the primary for Obama’s health care and cap-and-trade proposals is damaging to the Democrat. A wild card is Conway’s controversial “Aqua Jesus” ad. The election could turn on whether the voters see it as going too far – or demonstrating that Paul is too far out. Rep. Joe Sestak has virtually erased Pat Toomey’s lead in Pennsylvania with a series of hard-hitting ads that seek to capitalize on the Republican’s strong economic conservatism – a position that does not play well in a state that has been badly hurt by the recession and has a strong populist bent. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray continues to cling to a slim lead over Republican Dino Rossi in Washington State, but the narrow nature of the margin and the incumbent’s inability to pull away from her opponent and to move above 50 percent in the polls put the outcome here in doubt. No excitement in Maryland’s Senate race. Quick quiz: can you name Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s opponent?
Maryland Governor – Leaning Democratic. No change from previous week.
Analysis. Time is running out for Robert Ehrlich. There is no evidence that the former governor has dented the lead of Gov. Martin O’Malley. Indeed, recent polls suggest that O’Malley has added to his advantage. While the Republicans had hungered for a rematch between the two, the party probably would have done better with a fresh face. What they got was a contest that essentially features two incumbents, neither especially popular. To win, Ehrlich has the daunting task of persuading Democratic voters who cast a ballot against him for O’Malley four years ago to admit that they screwed up. People do not like to do that. It would be hard enough to get independents to change their votes, and it may be insurmountable to convince the necessary number of centrist Democrats to do so. This is particularly the case since these voters will have a fresh memory of the ongoing conflict which Ehrlich had with Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning interest groups during his term in office.
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Posted by Paul Foer at 6:06 AM