Oct 17, 2010

Polls Are a Snapshot of the Moment, and Right Now the GOP is Winning the House

An outside observer may wonder how the Democrats, having won overwhelmingly in the last election, can be blamed for a bad economy and government inefficiency. The stimulus money failed to convince Americans that this expensive action was worth it. It's hard to easily demonstrate that things would be worse hadn't been if these monies hadn't been spent. As for the gridlock, well, you know which is the "party of NO."

However, in reality American politics are unique in many ways. One is, that under our system of checks & balances, the lack of (appropriate) accountability. The executive is separate from the legislative branch, hence the President does not control the actions of Congress. Throw into the mix a quirky tradition of the Senate--the filibuster--and you can have a small minority obstructing at will and with impunity. 

Of course, the Republicans were never going to accept president Obama's legitimacy. It's no accident that there are so many "birthers" in the GOP Congressional delegation.  Apparently they're poised to capitalize on the effects of a bad economy--one they helped to create--and weak presidential leadership.

Midterm elections traditionally are bad for the party in the White House. All else being equal, there are a couple factors. One, that the opposition is more energized while the core supporters stay home. Two, the 10-15% of floating non-ideologues and low information voters, who have left Obama's 2008 winning coalition and are generally frustrated with gridlock and lack of clear policy from the administration.

There's a consensus today, as a snapshot of the electoral mood that the Republicans (and their tea party allies) will win enough seats [218 need for majority] in the House to control it. That's unfortunate, but the White House and the Dems hopefully will get the correct message from this: Do not try to win the minds and hearts of those who didn't vote for you in 2008. These voters will never come over. Be true to what Obama-the-candidate ran on, as most of the country still supports that agenda. Show clear objectives and demonstrate strong leadership.

This GOP has no future, unless the Dems keep shooting themselves in the foot. The Republicans will soon find out that the tea parties are their greatest enemy, because not only prevents them from winning the Senate this year but also pulling the party further to the right--where most of the country isn't! More on this later..