Stop Panicking, The Sky Isn't Falling

It was a rather disturbing diary headline earlier this week: “Charlie Cook says Democrats will lose the House.” But it wasn't quite as disturbing once I read the actual article in question.

Is the progressive sky falling?

Hell no.

The full quote from Cook shows that he’s just blowing smoke and has no numbers to back up his claim.


I’ve spent the last couple of days talking to some of the brightest Democrats in the party that are not in the White House. And it’s very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don’t lose the House. It’s very hard. Are the seats there right this second? No. But we’re on a trajectory on the House turning over.

A trajectory? Hell, trajectories can change. Give me numbers, not opinions. Unemployment will still be high in November, but between the new jobs bills and the slow recovery, it shouldn’t be as high as it is now. Hopefully with Obama’s new spine, some form health care reform will have passed and voters will realize that Grandma is still alive.

The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato was one of the first to predict a bad year for Democrats, but is holding steady at bad year, not terrible year. Perhaps his colleagues, like Cook, are trying to make up for not being the first to play Chicken Little by escalating to Chicken Huge. Either way, here’s the take from Isaac Wood, House Race Editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Some pundits are already predicting the GOP could even take back the House, which would require a net gain of 40 seats this November. To put that into perspective, in the past sixty years there have been thirty House elections, but only four have resulted in either party gaining 40 seats or more. In fact, over the past thirty-five years (and sixteen House elections), only once has either party picked up 40 seats or more. That year, of course, was 1994 when Republicans came to power following a net gain of 52 House seats.

While the Crystal Ball believes 2010 will reverse Democratic gains at all levels, there is still no convincing evidence that a GOP wave will deliver Republicans the majority in the House. Examining history and House races on a district-by-district basis shows instead that Republicans are headed to a more typical, if better than average, midterm year, picking up between 24 and 30 seats as the Crystal Ball has predicted since September. The average pick-up in a midterm year (since 1946) is 22 seats and Republicans should exceed that, but the magic number of 40 still seems out of reach, as of February.

The Senate picture is also looking up. We’ll lose seats, but poll trends are encouraging as Democratic candidates gain ground in several states. In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte leads Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes 46-39, but Hodes is closing, having narrowed the gap from 49-40. In New York, Harold Ford has done wonders for Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, who has narrowed the gap against former Republican Governor George Pataki from 51-38 to 47-41. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher is also cutting into former Rep. Rob Portman’s lead in Ohio. Nationally, if one disregards Rasmussen (which doesn’t use live pollsters), Democrats still maintain a narrow edge on the generic ballot. And let’s not forget, though he’s not above 50% in every poll, the party’s leader does have a net positive rating.

Am I cherry picking these numbers? With the exception of the president’s approval rating and the generic ballot, yes, of course. The overall electoral picture is bleak. But, just because the sky is dark doesn’t mean it’s falling. This is not the time for progressives and Democrats to panic. It is the time to demand that Congress get serious about financial reform, filibuster reform, clean energy, and health care, and it is the time to start identifying progressive candidates worth our time and donations. I’ve already given money to Matt Dunne in VT-Gov and Jack Conway in KY-Sen. Paul Hodes in NH-Sen is next, and possibly Russ Feingold in WI-Sen, given that Hodes and Feingold are two of the three Senate candidates so far endorsed by the Sierra Club (as well as dozens of House races). I’m thrilled to see the oft-maligned Michael Bennett leading the way on reconciliation, and have always been a fan of Kirstin Gillibrand, who is now taking the lead on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

With a bit of elbow grease and good messaging, we can limit our losses such that, with filibuster reform, we’ll still have the capability for good governance. We’ve already got some good candidates. So, the next time you feel panic, reroute that energy into something more productive.

Barack Obama Poll Numbers and the Midterm Elections

Over at Pollster, President Barack Obama is starting the new year with a collective average job approval that is a net negative (48.1% disapprove to 48.0% approve). If you filter out Rassmussen and internet polls, Obama climbes to 50.4% approval (see Nate Silver on the Rassmussen dustup).

Some of the "clap louder" crowd have recently taken to arguing that Obama's 80% approval ratings among Democrats means that Obama doesn't have a base problem. But is looking at approval among all Democrats an adequate way to measure Obama's "base" support? The following numbers put some context around how many Democrats actually constitute the base:

The most basic definition for "base" is the people who help you win elections. But there are lots of ways to quantify that. If by "base" you mean "email list total" then 18% of the people who voted for Obama are part of the base. If you mean contributors, then less than 6% of those who voted for Obama are part of the base. If you mean volunteers, it drops down to just over 2%.

In short, the Obama "base" is a very small percentage of the national political landscape and there is little reason to believe that national polls of Democrats represent the base. For instance, even if every single person on Obama's email list was a Democrat, every single one could disapprove of Obama according to the poll numbers Administration supporters are citing as showing Obama is in good shape.

"Base" isn't a measure of political breadth, but of political depth.

So is Obama in good shape? And is what is good for Obama's poll numbers also good for Democrats heading into the midterms?

There's more...


Reprinted from The Satirical Political Report

President Bush yesterday fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a last-ditch attempt to rally his base and stave off a GOP disaster in the midterm elections.

When told that the election had already taken place, and that his party had suffered a bloodbath worthy of "Fight Club of Fallujah," Bush explained that he must've been relying on the official GOP Calendar, which is based on the 19th Century.

However, when informed of the GOP's disastrous loss of both houses of Congress, Bush admitted that he had been somewhat distracted by a contest he had entered into with Karl Rove: "Maybe if I had been more of a delegator, and less of a masturbator, things woulda' turned out differently."

In fact, things went so badly for the Republicans, they even lost the pedophile vote by a two-to-one margin.


There's more...


Reprinted from The Satirical Political Report

While the GOP has just been "outed" on its latest election scam of "robocalling" voters, Karl Rove and his band of thugs are now resorting to "Plan B": ROBOCOPS.

These remote-controlled Robocops, built with the money the government has taken from Katrina relief, student loan funding and stem cell research, are the latest in state-of-the-art technologies developed by the RNC to snatch electoral victories from the jaws of defeat.

The GOP was forced to resort to these cyber-cop creations since human robocops -- the type that were employed to harass protesters at the 2004 Republican Convention -- are now all voting Democratic.

The Robocops form a cordon around the homes of likely Democratic voters and threaten to destroy them if they venture outside before the polls close.


There's more...


Reprinted from The Satirical Political Report

In light of the polls showing the loss of at least the House of Representatives in tomorrow's midterms, the GOP has decided to throw the ultimate "Hail Mary" -- a last minute campaign blitz with Borat.

As RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman put it, "who better than Borat to appeal to all of the red-meat issues that rile up our base: hatred of Jews, hatred of gays, hatred of women, and hatred of the Enlightenment."

"And the fact that he's been married to his half-sister," Mehlman added, "is bound to solidify our hold in the South."

Preliminary reports are that many GOP candidates who fled from campaign appearances with Bush are now falling all over themselves to appear with Borat. Although these candidates are fully aware that Borat's routine is a joke, their nearly uniform response has been "Who cares, so is Bush's."


There's more...


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