CQ: Dems "In as Good a Position as They Could Hope For"
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Nov 27, 2007 at 10:27:48 AM EST
Congressional Quarterly's team of Bob Benenson and Jonathan Allen write the following this week in the publication's cover story:
It isn't always necessary for a party to enjoy robust popularity among voters to win majorities in Congress. Sometimes, it's good enough just to not be the other guy.
Even though the public's "honeymoon" with the congressional Democratic majorities was brief, there is scant evidence that voters are anxious to rush back to the party they so recently dumped.
A variety of big-picture and grass-roots indicators show that the Democrats have a significant edge. Congressional Quarterly's most recent assessments of each of the 34 Senate seats and 435 House seats that will be contested next year -- detailed on the following pages -- show that the Democrats are in as good a position as they could hope for one year from Election Day. At the least, the odds favoring a Democratic hat trick -- White House, House and Senate -- are far better than the odds of a big reversal favoring the Republicans.
This article, which I'd recommend reading in full if you have the time, gets to the core of something I've been talking about for some time -- the Democrats remain more popular than the Republicans, which is, at its heart, what this (and in fact just about every) election is about. Even if the Democrats' numbers aren't good -- and the Democrats' numbers aren't great, though they aren't bad either -- the Democrats are actually in a relatively good position if the Republicans' numbers are worse. Not everyone seems to understand this. Matthew Yglesias wraps up the fundamental misunderstanding of some in Washington quite well.
This from the Politico web team is really absurd. The idea that there can be "bad news" for Democrats but "worse news" for GOP betrays a basic failure to understand the nature of electoral politics, namely that it's a zero-sum competition for power in which only one candidate can win any given race and only one party can hold a majority in any legislative body. If new polls show public dissatisfaction with Democrats but greater dissatisfaction with Republicans, that's good news for Democrats. The only way something could be bad news for both parties would be if you believe that the country is on the verge of an unprecedented wave that's going to sweep a third party into power.
Meanwhile, silly headlines are one thing, but they decided to compound the sin here by highlighting the bad news for dems article even though the publication acknowledges that the news is, in fact, "worse" for Republicans. [I have sized down the photo for space reasons.]
One more thing worth noting: Just because the Democrats are now "in as good a position as they could hope for one year from Election Day" does not mean that they are necessarily going to pick up the trifecta. A lot can happen between now and election day. That all said, stories like this one from CQ are important in that they help push back against the notion pushed by some Beltway insiders (like the one mentioned by Yglesias) that the Democrats are doomed or even in a generally poor position about 11 months out from November 2008.