This is the first part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The second part can be found here.
The 2010 congressional midterm elections constituted, by and large, a victory for the Republican Party. In the Senate Republicans gained six seats. While this was somewhat below expectations, it was much better than Republican hopes just after 2008 – when many expected the party to actually lose seats.
The Senate results provide some interesting fodder for analysis. The table below indicates which Republicans Senate candidates did the worst in 2008. It does so by taking the Republican margin of victory or defeat in a given state and subtracting this by the Cook PVI of the state (the Cook PVI is how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). Given that Republicans won the nationwide vote this year, the average Republican candidate would be expected to do better than the state’s PVI. A bad Republican candidate would actually do worse than the state’s PVI.
Let’s take a look at this table:
State Republican Margin Cook PVI Republican Overperformance South Dakota 100.00% 8.9% 91.10% North Dakota 53.91% 10.4% 43.51% Kansas 43.72% 11.5% 32.22% Iowa 31.05% -1.0%32.05% Idaho 46.25% 17.4% 28.85% Oklahoma 44.50% 16.9% 27.60% Florida 28.69% 1.8% 26.89% South Carolina 33.83% 7.8% 26.03% New Hampshire 23.22% -1.6%24.82% Arizona 24.14% 6.1% 18.04% Alabama 30.47% 13.2% 17.27% Ohio 17.44% 0.7% 16.74% Georgia 19.31% 6.8% 12.51% Arkansas 20.96% 8.8% 12.16% Missouri 13.60% 3.1% 10.50% Illinois 1.60% -7.7%9.30% Louisiana 18.88% 9.7% 9.18% Utah 28.79% 20.2% 8.59% Indiana 14.58% 6.2% 8.38% North Carolina 11.77% 4.3% 7.47% Wisconsin 4.84% -2.4%7.24% Pennsylvania 2.02% -2.0%4.02% Kentucky 11.47% 10.4% 1.07% Washington -4.73%-5.0%0.27% Alaska 11.94% 13.4% -1.46% Colorado -1.63%0.2% -1.83% California -10.01%-7.4%-2.61% Nevada -5.74%-1.3%-4.44% Connecticut -11.94%-7.1%-4.84% Delaware -16.58%-7.0%-9.58% Oregon -17.98%-4.0%-13.98% New York (S) -27.84%-10.2%-17.64% Maryland -26.44%-8.5%-17.94% West Virginia -10.07%7.9% -17.97% Vermont -33.41%-13.4%-20.01% New York -34.10%-10.2%-23.90% Hawaii -53.24%-12.5%-40.74% Total/Average 5.54% 2.3% 8.08%
(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).
This table reveals some fascinating trends. There is a very clear pattern: the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states – and the bluer the state, the more the Republican underperformed. This does not just mean that these Republicans lost, but that they lost by more than the average Republican was supposed to in the state. Republican candidates did worse than the state’s PVI in thirteen states; nine of these states had a Democratic PVI.
There seems to be a PVI tipping point at which Republicans start underperforming: when a state is more than 5% Democratic than the nation (PVI D+5). Only one Republican in the nine states that fit this category overperformed the state PVI (Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois ).
Something is puzzling about this pattern. It is true that states like Connecticut or Maryland will probably vote Democratic even in Republican victories. The Cook PVI predicts that Democrats will win by X% in the event of a national tie in the popular vote. One would thus have expected Republican candidates to do better than this in 2010, given that 2010 was the strongest Republican performance in a generation.
Yet this did not happen. In a lot of blue states Democrats actually did better than the Cook PVI would project them to do – that is, said blue states behaved like the Democrats had actually won the popular vote, which they certainly did not in 2010. The bluer the state, the stronger this pattern.
There are a couple of reasons why this might be. The first thing that comes to mind is the money and recruiting game. The Republican Party, reasonably enough, does not expect its candidates to win in places like New York and Maryland . So it puts less effort into Republican candidates in those states. They get less money – and therefore less advertising, less ground game, and so on. Nobody had any idea who the Republican candidate in Vermont was, for instance. That probably contributes to Republican underperformance in deep-blue states.
The second factor might be a flaw in the model the table uses. Democratic and Republican strongholds, for whatever reason, behave differently from “uniform swing” models. In almost all the counties President Barack Obama won, for instance, he improved upon President Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 performance – despite the fact that Mr. Clinton won by similar margins in the popular vote. This holds true from San Francisco to rural Mississippi . In the 2010 Massachusetts special Senate election, the most Democratic areas of Massachusetts swung least towards Republican Senator Scott Brown. The fact that the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states fits the pattern.
The table presents another startling pattern, which will be discussed in the next post: there are surprisingly few Republicans who did worse than they were supposed to in red states.
President Barack Obama has recently chosen businessman William Daley to be his next Chief of Staff. Some liberals have criticized the choice of Mr. Daley as too corporate and too moderate. They say that Mr. Obama should have selected a different person as Chief of Staff.
Mr. Daley indeed is a poor choice for Chief of Staff, although perhaps for a different reason than the above criticism. It is what Mr. Daley represents that makes one uncomfortable with him.
The American Dream is based upon that great premise that everybody can succeed in America, regardless of who their parents were, or the place they were born in, or the color of their skin, or anything else that has no effect on merit. All are created equal, paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence. Anybody can become president, even if their father was a failed alcoholic, or happened to come from Kenya, or worked as a shoe salesman.
William Daley, in many ways, stands out as the opposite of this great ideal. Mr. Daley has succeeded not because of any personal qualities – intelligence, leadership, ambition – but merely because of his last name. Mr. Daley’s father, Richard Daley, famously ruled the city of Chicago for decades and accumulated enormous power and massive political connections. Without those inherited connections, William Daley would not be were he is now.
Take, for instance, Mr. Daley’s job before being appointed Chief of Staff. He was an executive at Morgan Stanley who supervised its Washington lobbying efforts. Here is how Mr. Daley got the job:
He was hired, company officials said, as something of consolation prize to Chicago when Chase, which has its headquarters in New York, was taking over Bank One, which was based in Chicago. Chase executives, including Jamie Dimon, its chairman, wanted to bring in someone with Chicago connections who could smooth over relations with wealthy clients and corporations there.
One Chase official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, recalled, “A few bankers said we should hire a Bill Daley,” meaning someone with Chicago political connections and clout who could serve as a new public face for Chase.
The primary reason, then, that Mr. Daley got his job was because his father happened to be Mayor of Chicago. Without the last name Daley, William would not be a top executive at a corporate bank. Without that prestigious position, he would not be the president’s Chief of Staff.
This stands in stark contrast to the man who hired Mr. Daley. President Barack Obama rose to power based on his intelligence, his ambition, and his political skill; not because his father incidentally happened to be rich and famous. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s last name is probably more of a liability than an advantage for him.
One should not need to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth – to be as lucky as William Daley, in other words – to succeed in this nation. Barack Obama is better than this. Ultimately, America is better than this.--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/
Senator Joe Lieberman has recently announced his resignation, pending expectations that he will probably lose his next Senate race. For many on the far left, Mr. Lieberman was a hated figure; a traitor on issues beginning from his loud support of the Iraq War.
Mr. Lieberman, on the other hand, came to dislike the far left in equal measure. After they defeated him in the 2006 Democratic primary, he ran for Senator as an independent. He went on to win that race by the high single-digits and never forgave the netroots or the Democratic Party for what he thought they had done to him.
Mr. Lieberman has spent the rest of his life attempting to block all that the netroots hold dear. He was the only Democratic senator to support Republican candidate John McCain, even going as far as to speak at the Republican National Convention. During that time Mr. McCain seriously considered the Jewish senator as his running mate.
Then, during the health care debate, it was Mr. Lieberman who put the death blow onto the public option. This was probably the dearest provision in the bill to online activists, hoping to use it to create a single-payer, universal, government-run health care system (what conservatives call socialist health care, an accurate description in this case). Mr. Lieberman’s role in the defeat of this dream further enraged the netroots community.
All this does little to speak well of neither the netroots community nor Mr. Lieberman. The former overestimated their power in attempting to defeat the senator; their influence over the Democratic primary electorate turned out not to extend to the general electorate, where Mr. Lieberman won as an independent. Since that election, the senator has made the far left pay far more than it would have if the netroots had just stayed quiet.
But Mr. Lieberman comes out the worst. A high government official should never let his or her emotions drive him to make decisions. Doing so can be dangerous for the country’s health. Yet since 2006 Mr. Lieberman’s entire career seems to have been dedicated to anger-fueled retaliation.
Perhaps the senator deserves to be angry, perhaps not. But public servants should not behave in the manner Mr. Lieberman been doing. Things such as the public option are serious matters, not tools to get petty personal revenge. They affect hundreds of millions of Americans. They are part of a very important debate over what policies the United States must take. Deciding to oppose something like the public option as retribution for a personal matter is not responsible.
It is probably a good thing that Mr. Lieberman has declared his resignation.--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/