Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Midterms in Review

Historically Midterms haven't favored incumbent presidents. FDR suffered big House losses in '38 and '42.  Clinton lost control of the House in '94.  The worst Senate losses were suffered by Eisenhower in '58 and Truman in '46.   The Republicans would need a repeat performance to do the same this year as they have to win no less than 39 seats to regain control of the House, and score a +10 to take the Senate.

Faced with these overwhelming odds, Boehner has issued his Pledge to America, essentially a replay of Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America.  But as the Tennessean notes, this Pledge may backfire, as the Democrats now have something to tee off on.  Up to this point, the Republicans and their fellow teabaggers have essentially been running negative ads, attacking Democratic positions, and making any number of false claims in regard to health insurance and tax relief.

It seems the Dems will lose seats, but the Republicans riding what they feel is a huge wave of resentment against the current administration may have set themselves up for the fall, because anything less than a clear majority in the House and a split in the Senate (as was the case in 1994) will be a defeat for them.  Either way, Obama will have a tough two years ahead, as the Republicans won't be anymore willing to work on Democratic sponsored legislation than they currently are, and the focus will become on the 2012 elections.

Has Obama done enough to stem the economic tide and start to see appreciable gains in employment in the two years ahead.  Getting a road bill through Congress and other infrastructure bills may help, but it seems that what America needs must is an attitude change.  Once again this has become an election about perceptions, not the reality of the situation.


  1. Has Obama done enough? No.

    And it's more than attitudes that are hurting out here. Even our little college town, which has been pretty much exempt from the worst of the real estate collapse (still not sure how people can afford houses at these prices), is seeing shuttered businesses up and down Main Street. And we were singled out by some commentator on CNBC as being at risk of a double dip recession. Our mayor went on the show to defend our economy.

    But thanks to the mayor we've had LOTS of stimulus money reworking roads, adding bike paths, etc. When that's gone it still could get bleak since there are no major employers in the state except for hospitals and schools.

    A friend and former member of the state legislature is thinking about starting a new political party.

    But I heard Chris Matthews give an impassioned plea on behalf of Obama the other night and tend to agree with him. He is the only progressive president we've had at least since Carter -- and he was an odd duck. It was Matthews that convinced me that I should try to get out the vote this year for the democrats. We only have one state representative (a republican) who is one of the very worst out there. I always write letters to the editor about his record -- maybe I'll try to get some votes for his opponent this year.

    We have a great governor in the state but it's in no one's interest to let the state legislature fill up with even more republicans and tea party types.

  2. So what should Obama have done in light of the Republican party's lock-step opposition to his every proposal and initiative? Postponed Health Care? That would have theoretically left money on the table with which to stimulate the economy.

  3. ... which they were against too. The Party of No. I think Obama and the Democrats accomplished a great deal considereding the stonewalling the Republicans did, but they haven't done a very good job of projecting that during this election cycle.

  4. Interesting to see Rahm Emanuel go. Good luck in the Chicago mayor race.

  5. Obama has options that other presidents have never had ~ he can declare an economic emergency and call in the $12 to 20 trillion sheltered in overseas accounts by the wealthy elites of this country. That money can be used to create millions of jobs to rebuild the infrastructure, end the Bush created recession, and reverse his deficit as well. This is the same authority used by Roosevelt to call in the gold held by elites and it has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

    The Reagan 'trickle down' theory was, as David Stockman said, welfare for the rich. It does not work for society's good. Never did - never will. But Obama has no excuse for refusing to reverse years of corporate welfarism and elitism. All Obama needs to do is to develop the courage to do so.

  6. Nothing surprising, but Krugman points out how Fox has become a veritable nest of vipers, blatantly promoting current Congressional candidates and potential Presidential candidates,

  7. What amazes me most about this article,

    is what the "white working class" sees in the Republican Party. Since when has the GOP ever looked out for their interests? Yet, according to Associated Press-GfK this demographic group favors Republican candidates almost 2-1.

    I suppose lack of education explains part of it. These persons are more likely to make choices on personal appeal than informing themselves on the issues and what the candidates actually offer. They seem drawn to media talking heads like Glenn Beck who "speak" their language.

    Seems that if Democrats want to regain this lost ground they need to go with a more "down home" approach, putting forward persons like Tim Kaine, who have more a folksy image. Or, introduce more programs for the working class in continueing education.

  8. So now Newt has labeled the Democrats "The Party of Food Stamps,"

    Seems the Republicans have become all about sloganeering this campaign cycle, unable to offer anything in the way of a working plan that might ease us out of this economic down cycle.

    Interesting how Newt works the sidelines in this campaign, directing it as though he were the a Republican leader in exile.

  9. When everyone knows it's really Karl Rove.

  10. It is certainly Rovian style politics, but I don't think Rove really has any horse in this race. Rove would have burnished more of the edges and brought a stronger focus to the campaign. As it is, the Republican primaries were like some kind of tent revival, with some of the biggest loudmouths coming out on top. Hard to say how much of this "old time religion" will figure into the general election, as I would like to think Americans are looking for answers to the crisis, not just more preaching.

  11. Reading about the 1910 midterm in Morris's Colonel Roosevelt, it seems things weren't much different then than now. Only the Republicans found themselves splitting along progressive and conservative lines with the Roosevelt Republicans eventually forming around him in 1912. It was at this time that the Dems managed to co-op Progressivism, adopting much of the progressive agenda into their 1912 platform. By contrast, the "Regular Republicans" entrenched themselves in laissez-faire economics, giving up on Roosevelt all together.

  12. Talk about a wicked 1-2 punch, I don't know how the Democrats are going to bounce back from announcements this week of no COLA for Social Security and a $1 tril + budget shortfall. I would think they could have timed these announcements for after the midterms.

  13. I see Reid and Angle finally had an opportunity to air their differences. Hard to say who got the better of whom in this debate,

    it seems that the biggest loser will be the public in the midterms, as neither side has particularly distinguished itself in this campaign. But, what gets me is that two years on the Republicans still refuse to own up to the financial disaster that in large part they created, passing the buck to the Dems and hoping the voters will forget that they held control of Congress for most of the last 16 years.