Thursday, May 15, 2008Despite the embarrassing results of Tuesday night's special election in Mississippi, and the Republicans' apparent state of panic, they still haven't grasped how much trouble they're in. The conventional wisdom is still only that the Democrats will pick up 10-20 House seats and 4-5 Senate seats. There is also a common belief that McCain will substantially overperform the Republican "brand" (god I hate that phrase) to make it a close race.
It is my belief that this is a significant under-estimation of the degree of danger Republicans face. Or, to quote Atrios: NA GA HA PEN.
With an 82% percent "wrong track" number, a deteriorating economy. no improvement in Iraq, continuing corruption scandals, the large number of Republican-held open seats, McCain's bizarrely unacknowledged weaknesses as a candidate, Democratic enthusiasm --- well, that's a very long list, isn't it? No party facing this combination of problems has emerged with anything as piddling as a 20 seat loss in the House.
Right now, the fundamentals are pointing to a 5-7 point win for Obama, 30-40 seats in the House, and 7-8 seats in the Senate. And I think this is a moderate estimation - it could be even worse (or, from my point of view, even better).
Now am I predicting that the Democrats will enjoy this sort of presidential & congressional romp - not seen by them since 1964 and by either party since 1980? Well, no. Things can change, and I have been wrong often enough to toss in a caveat or two. But if I were in Vegas, I definitely put money on the Democrats beating the spread this year.
By the way, even going down by 20 seats would only put the Republicans in a 256-179 minority - pretty much where they were in the early 1990's. Now the Republicans had a lot of success in that period, so what's the problem? Well, because the Democrats are now much more cohesive, and Obama would have considerably more intra-party clout than Clinton did (who was facing an entrenched and arrogant 40-year Democratic majority).
But that wide a margin in the House would be less important than the margin in the Senate. There just won't be that many moderate Republicans left after this year - Specter and Snowe will be about it. If the Democrats pick up the seats now viewed as competitive (VA, NM, CO, MN, NH), that only puts them up 55-44-Lieberman. The good news is that several other states are looking like potential Democratic pick-ups: OR, OK, TX, NC, MS. If everything went perfectly, the D's would win 10 seats for a 60 vote margin. I'm not sure that's going to happen, but if Obama wins by 10 points on election night, it very well could.