Jason Easley’s essay looking at recent opinion polls in Kentucky, Nevada, and California argues that Democrats are substantially improving their position in senate races in each.
I’ve been noticing the same thing. Even if the new LA Times poll showing the Democratic candidates, Boxer for Senate and Brown for governor, pulling way out ahead is as inaccurate as the rightwing blogosphere maintains, there is other evidence of them now enjoying a lead beyond the margin of error. Easely pays a lot of attention to who has high negatives, and it is clear that the public just does not like some of the Republican candidates very much.
I’ve also noticed that television news has made a big deal about generic Republican versus Democratic polls. I cannot say such polls are completely useless, but they should be approached with great caution. Americans have the same low opinion of Congress as an institution that Mark Twain had.
But it turns out that voters usually like their representatives just fine, thank you, and believe that they are exceptions to the rule.
The president’s party usually loses some seats in the midterm, but the Democrats increasingly look set to keep a majority in the Senate. The Republicans would have to take 10 seats, and that outcome looks increasingly implausible, especially with Christine “Blood on the Altar” O’Donnell having won the primary in Delaware.
It is, of course, strange that Americans should be contemplating returning to power in the House the party that ran the country off a cliff during the first 8 years of the new millennium. But it isn’t all “Americans” who are voting. In most midterms, the voter turnout is relatively low, about 37%. The poor don’t typically vote, and neither do people under 30 (they came out for Obama in ’08, but that was likely a fluke). Also, ethnic minorities don’t vote in as high numbers as middle class and upper class whites. The voters will be well-heeled people who already had health coverage and who mind that it was extended to workers, students and the poor in a way that might cause them to have to bear some of the burden. They will include the ones who would be affected if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire.
So a midterm election is an election in which rich cranky old white people predominate as voters. Thus, it really is remarkable, and sad for the Republicans, that even with such a favorable electorate (i.e. a shrunken and weird one), they likely can’t take the Senate back. And without the Senate, they won’t be able to get up to much mischief. Every theatrical bill they pass in the House will be quietly buried in committee, and in the unlikely event it came to a vote and passed, it would simply be vetoed; and the veto would stick.
Since there are only two parties in the US, and one has gone bonkers, every election is now a game of Russian roulette for the American republic. But this time, at least, the chamber that has come up looks to be empty.