March 27, 2006

Will a Democat majority be a dream come true or just a dream?

Can the Democrats regain a majority in the U.S. House and/or Senate?

This question was addressed on yesterday's Meet the Press and Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report made a couple points which stood out.

He noted that the Dems will have a very difficult time regaining majorities in either body due to structural reasons. In other words, there aren't enough open seats or vulnerable seats open for them to have a good mathematical shot at it. In a certain bitter irony, despite the plunging approval numbers for both Bush and the Republican legislature, the numbers just don't favor the Democrats.

According to Cook, it would take tremendous voter backlash to enable enough Dems to overtake incumbents and gain enough seats to put them in the majority. But of course, he underestimated the number of seats the Republicans would pick up during the Gingrich onslaught by over 10.

This of course, is rather depressing, as in previous election cycles, things were lined up much more favorably for Dems, but public sentiment was running the other way.

At one point, Russert trotted out the old Republican cannard that the Dems can't succeed by simply throwing stones at the administration without offering their own proposals for the future in Iraq, immigration, the economy, "homeland" security, and other large issues.

This of course is annoying, as it's not the job of the Democrats to come up with ways to bail out the Republican's from their dangerous failures. Yet this easily digestible bit of spin is very attractive to many and seems to have become conventional wisdom.

So it was a relief to hear Cook respond that the Dems not only don't have to provide detailed counter proposals or plans of their own, but they'd be stupid to do so.

Cook added that it's the Dem's proper role to continue to point out failures by the Republicans and keep on the offense, something that's always the benefit of being in the minority. It's not the Dem's job to propose detailed plans, Cook said, as if they did, it would only provide fodder for the Republicans to attack them on and would result in putting the Dems on the defensive, when they're not even in power. Why do it?

The panel also seemed to think that a substantial withdrawal from Iraq will happen before the congressional elections and felt that it would be a big plus for Republicans.

It's over the horizon to be sure, but do any readers have any insights or thoughts on the prospect for a Democratic House or Senate majority in the next few years? Will the anti-Bush, anti-congress sentiment remain strong enough to pull it off?

The prospect of a Democratic majority in the legislature is a delicious thing to imagine, to be sure. Just imagine what it would be like if the Dems had the power to form investigative committees with subpoena powers? It would get hot on Republican crooks, including the White House, in a great big hurry. And it wouldn't be too long before all sorts of ugly secrets would begin to be revealed at last.

And if you really want to get pumped, think of the committee chairmanship changes, including Lane Evans as chair of the House Veteran's Affairs Committee...

  • Appropriations: Cochran to Byrd
  • Armed Services: Warner to Levin
  • Banking: Shelby to Sarbanes
  • Commerce: Stevens to Inouye
  • Energy: Domenici to Bingaman
  • Environment: Inhofe to Jeffords
  • Finance: Grassley to Baucus
  • Foreign Relations: Lugar to Biden
  • Health, Education, Labor: Enzi to Kennedy
  • Rules: Lott to Dodd
  • Budget: Gregg to Conrad
  • Judiciary: Specter to Leahy
  • Veteran's Affairs: Craig to Akaka
  • Joint Committee on Taxation: Grassley to Baucus
  • Ethics: Voinovich to Johnson
  • Intelligence: Roberts to Rockefeller

  • Ways and Means: Thomas to Rangel
  • Appropriations: Lewis to Obey
  • Armed Services: Hunter to Skelton
  • Judiciary: Sensenbrenner to Conyers
  • Intelligence: Hoekstra to Harmon
  • Budget: Nussle to Spratt
  • Veteran's Affairs: Buyer to Evans
  • Energy: Barton of TX to Dingell


At 3/27/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Marcin said...

Greetings from Poland :)

At 3/27/2006 12:16 PM, Blogger Dave Barrett said...

The talking heads on television act like its a given that there will be a substantial US withdrawal from Iraq within the year and that it is a given that the voters will give the Republicans credit for this alledged withdrawal? And at the same time the President is doing a Churchhill impersonation with how we will never give up and it will be some future president who will bring the troops home, thus earning points for his steadfastness and resoluteness with the same public that is also giving him credit for a withdrawal that has not happened?
Now that's some tricky manipulation of public opinion. Noam Chomsky calls this "manufacturing consensus".
During this alledged withdrawal from Iraq watch for the number of air strikes the US launches to increase while the number of ground troops (and US casualties) gradually decreases. During the Vietnam War that is the way Tricky Dick created the impression with the US public of the war winding down while we were actually escalating it from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese (and the rest of Southeast Asia) who were getting bombed by us.

At 3/27/2006 1:21 PM, Anonymous paladin said...

Don't you get all deja vueish about this? Isn't this what the national press told us would happen in the '04 elections? Yeah, it's never been done, the party out of power wins seats in the Congress, etc. Zzzzzzzz Been there, done that. Keep hope alive, so your hope will be dashed on the rocks of reality in '06. Sure, believe the spin, not the reality.

At 3/27/2006 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings from Elbonia!

At 3/27/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger rope-a-dope said...

Why believe this election is less likely to be stolen than the last two Presidential elections?

At 3/27/2006 2:41 PM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

Let's incorporate some local data.

Why was turnout so low last Tuesday for the Illinois primary?

My hypothesis is that neither political camp is speaking to the concerns of the voters.

My prediction: low turnout in November. It seems like hardcore Dems are more energized than hardcore Republicans. But I don't see a big swing unless Dems are able to connect with the disallusioned voters with weak ties to either party.

Cheating can't be dismissed as a factor too.

What happens if the Dems scored marked gains in places where they control the machinery of elections, but the GOP candidates largely get the breaks they need to survive where the Republicans control the infrastructure? What happens if the perception becomes widespread that elections are largely exercises in stuffing ballot boxes?

At 3/28/2006 6:53 AM, Blogger Polt said...

It'd be nice to think something will change in November but the American people are apathetic and stupid. 35 million people vote in American Idol one week, will we have that many voting in Novmeber?

I don't think there's any chance for the Dems to retake the house, although the Senate might be possible. However, never underestimate the money, spin control, Fox News, and pure vileness that the Republicans have on thier side.

if they can paint a man who lost three limbs in Vietnam as unpatriotic and get a draft dodger to seem patriotic and replace him in the Senate, then they're capable of anything.

At 4/03/2006 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember the contract with america?

The Dems can't just be the "say no" party. They have to put together and communicate effectively a new Dem agenda.
First you have to convince Americans the majority party is wrong, then you have to instill confidence in your own party's ability to lead. We are weak on the latter, but we have some time.


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