Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 5:37 pm

Somebody better take that glass of kool aid away from Dean Barnett before he does irreperable damage to the synapses of his brain:

So what’s it all mean? In the tied races, the Republican will win. In the close races, the Republican will win. It adds up to Republicans running the table in the Senate. That’s right – running the table. Montana, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Rhode Island (whoopee), and Maryland will all send or re-send Republicans to the Senate. But wait, there’s more! Michigan will send Sheriff Michael Bouchard to the Senate. And in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is in striking distance.

In the House, the same holds true. Republican Joe Negron will take Foley’s seat. New Mexico’s Heather Wilson will return to Congress. So, too, will Connecticut’s Chris Shays. We’ll lose a handful of seats for the individual failures of certain Congressmen (hello, Curt Weldon), but we will retain control of the House.

Okay, I’m officially out on the limb. But I’m comfortable here. The paradigm has shifted. People like Stu Rothenberg are like old generals re-fighting the last war; they’re re-analyzing the last election without realizing that certain key facts on the ground have changed.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Dean Barnett. He’s witty, smart, shrewd, and usually level headed in his analysis. That’s why his pre-election departure from planet earth should be considered cause for alarm - or more likely the product of blogging in close proximity to the most relentlessly optimistic man I have ever seen.

Hugh Hewitt has never lost faith that Tuesday will not see the end of the Republican majority in Congress. That kind of enthusiasm is necessary and vital in any political movement. One might point to it as the major difference between left and right, liberals and conservatives. Especially since they’ve been out of power, there has been little in the way of optimism from the left - even about their own party. Instead, the Democrats have been doing a slow burn for a decade with constant recriminations against one faction or another. The Clintonian Democratic Leadership Council has come in for some scathing criticism for trying to be “Republican lite” in their policy prescriptions - despite the fact that they proved to be the most politically successful Democrats in a generation.

But Dean and Hugh - while I believe wildly off base in their predictions for Tuesday - are two good reasons why the Republicans will not be left out in the political wilderness for long. Positive people will succeed a helluva lot more often than the contrarians, the curmudgeons, the sourpusses, the angry, bitter, relentlessly negative partisans who make up much of the leadership of the Democratic party.

As for throwing some cold water on Dean’s victory party, a couple of quick observations are in order.

A week ago, I couldn’t have imagined that Burns (MT), Steele (MD), Corker (TN), and Allen (VA) would be victorious on Tuesday. Now it appears a distinct possibility. Corker and Steele appear to have tremendous momentum while Kerry’s gaffe may very well have doomed Tester in Montana and McCaskill in Missouri. I am convinced we won’t know the results of the Allen-Webb cage match until at least Wednesday and probably beyond that but given the redness of Virginia, the incumbent may very well squeak by.

But Rhode Island? New Jersey? I think that we’ll find that the GOTV machines in both parties will be working in tip top condition. And, like the redness of Virginia helping Allen, I think the very blue states of New Jersey and Rhode Island will give Menendez and Whitehouse a GOTV edge so that you can bank their wins on Tuesday night.

Along with almost certain losses by Santorum in PA and DeWine in OH, that would mean a net loss for the GOP in the Senate of 3 seats -a testament to the power of incumbency rather than any victory for conservative principles or acknowledgement of Republican competency in running the legislative branch.

In fact, that will be the hallmark of this election even if, as expected, the Democrats take control in the House. The only overarching issue that seems to be on voters minds is Iraq. The left will try to spin their victory as an anti-war mandate when in fact, what the American people want is someone to define victory in a rational way. Americans don’t like to lose wars. But since the Democrats failed to offer any kind of coherent message on Iraq - except that the war has been badly botched - they’ll settle for a party that will force the President to change course.

But where Dean and Hugh and the other Republican Rebeccas of Sunnybrook Farms allow their enthusiasm to get the better of them is in believing that 1) the polls are a crock; and 2) the GOP GOTV machine will carry them through to victory.

I have no doubt the polls are skewed toward Democrats; in some cases badly. But polls are scientific endeavors and to dismiss their findings so cavalierly flies in the face of rationality. Many of the concerns expressed by Dean in his article are addressed in the statistical model used by the pollster. That’s why polls are much, much more than simply counting noses.

As for the GOP’s GOTV edge, this excellent article in The Hill magazine shows why Republicans who are hanging their hopes on turnout may end up being hugely disappointed:

How likely is a 20 percent increase in turnout based on a GOTV effort? The best serious academic estimate is that all the GOTV work in the presidential campaign of 2004 increased turnout not by 20 percent, but by about 3 percent.

Experiments on turnout by Alan Gerber and Donald Green suggest that the most effective means of increasing turnout raise it by less than 10 percent — and that’s for people who get canvassed in person. None of this is to suggest that GOTV efforts are not valuable. When 2000 or 200 votes decide an election there is no question that GOTV efforts can make all the difference in the world. But again, that is simply not the case that is being argued by GOP operatives.

Can’t micro-targeting help them achieve spectacular successes? Anyone who has ever modeled data knows there is much more salesmanship than science in Republican claims about these efforts. Our firm and others on the Democratic side have been using these models for half a dozen years or more and we know they can make our efforts much more efficient; expand our GOTV and persuasion universes; and provide message guidance. So when races are otherwise marginal, the lift models provide can make all the difference between winning and losing. But no model is going to turn what would otherwise be a 5-point loss into a victory.

There are about 20 Republican incumbents or open Republican held seats where candidates are losing by 5 points or more according to RealClear Politics. Blumenthal’s Pollster.Com has even more GOP seats at risk. If, as Mellman suggests in the article, GOTV efforts will only affect many of these races at the margins, it seems virtually certain that the combination of scandal and voter dissatisfaction will mean a Democratic takeover the House.

My own estimate (more on my methodology on Monday) is that the GOP will lose between 18-23 seats. The low end of that estimate is if the GOP can pull out some tough races here in the Midwest, specifically in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. But no amount of enthusiasm will help the GOP in the wild blue states of the northeast. In fact, New York and Connecticut are shaping up to be GOP disaster areas on Tuesday night with Pennsyvania not far behind. It’s hard to see how GOTV efforts will have much of an effect in many of those races.

So I would say to Dean, Hugh, and the rest of you who have been so up-beat and enthusiastic, no matter what happens on Tuesday, your attitude will almost certainly mean that the GOP wil retake the House in 2008 - all things considered. By then the American people will have tired of the never ending witch hunts carried out by Democrats in Congress against a Republican Administration and perhaps, a chastened and reformed GOP will give the voters a reason to trust them again.


Don’t miss AJ Strata’s superior piece on the elections. Nice round up and some good points about predictions.


  1. I will admit that I never thought Mr. Clinton would be reelected in 1992. I have that same confidence in voters now that I had then. I still believe the current majorities will hold. For what its worth.

    Comment by rockdalian — 11/4/2006 @ 6:22 pm

  2. Rick,

    A poll within 5% margins in Senate races indicate a viable chance for holding or gaining the seat. AJ Strata uses a 6% number and is more positive - believing in polling response imbalances and GOTV. To me, those are probably worth 6 points in a poll taken Monday through Wednesday the week before an election.

    I think the dead birds are Chafee and DeWine - the base will not GOTV for these clowns so that 3% will not help them. And, nobody is claiming that polls in those states are wildly over-exaggerating turnout for the Dems. Chafee doesn’t even get the Pollyanna vote.

    Some Monty Python character is clanking Santorum on the noggin - but he’s ‘not dead yet’. His numbers are improving but Pennsylvanians seem intent on voting for a cipher.

    So my personal read is -2 for Republicans overall… Resulting in a 53/45/2 mix with both independents voting Democrat caucus and on most topics.

    Polling House races is garbage. There are too many reasons to list.

    However, given that… Is it necessarily a negative to cull true Democrats from the Republican Party? I don’t mind centrists, but I don’t know why the Republican Party must officially sanction center left to left candidates. Another positive is that we are seeing where the candidates are when the chips are down. We will not have to back these washy chaps in the future simply because they are incumbents. Also, the 2010 census will take care of any gains made by Democrats in the Northeast.

    Another positive is that regardless of the final count there are going to be many more DLC style center left Congress Critters. Who will be able to work with those folks – Pelosi or Hastert?

    But, a huge negative is the one Party with decent leadership could take a big hit in a time of war. All the chaps that believe in government gridlock (I think Kudlow is in this group) are also forgetting we are at war.

    Interesting times. I am just glad that we are the third most populace nation on earth. However, in times like these a parliamentary system would be nice. Can we survive two years of intense stupidity?

    Comment by Boghie — 11/4/2006 @ 6:55 pm

  3. I was sent a pointer to a graphical depiction of the US political betting market on tradesports.com (Irish) : senate and governor races.
    At a glance, three senate races are still considered in play, Missouri, Virginia, Montana. Missouri is “tight as a tick”.

    Just FYI, since there is money to be made if you disagree and are correct. (Not sure it’s still legal though.)

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 11/4/2006 @ 8:43 pm

  4. Unintended consequences: at stake on Tuesday

    Did the Democrats truly consider the consequences of dismantling the Patriot Act… or preventing the NSA from wiretapping international telephone calls… or obstructing data-mining on phone-call records?

    Trackback by Doug Ross @ Journal — 11/5/2006 @ 9:14 am

  5. Re my link yesterday to a graphic layout of tradesports.com Senate race odds, the fortnow site appears to have suffered from a meltdown.
    tradesports.com is still up though - the menu is Politics -> US 06 Senate Races.
    (Note that betting on this site might be illegal for Americans.)

    Comment by Bill Arnold — 11/5/2006 @ 12:34 pm

  6. I agree with Dean and Hugh, and several others, that the GOP retains both.
    The polld before the ‘94 elections showed the dhimms ahead by five percentages points, and of course we all know what happened then.
    I will leave it to your imagination, why the polls almost always oversample dhimms.

    Comment by no2liberals — 11/5/2006 @ 2:39 pm

  7. I am also one of those that agrees that the vote will not show the wholesale abandonment of the Republican party that has been portrayed. The war is the only major factor involved in this optimism by the Democrats, and they are wrong!

    Most of the people are disturbed about the direction the war is going, but they certainly do not want to pull out and let the terrorists win. So, eventually, the Democrats lose on this issue.

    First, the use of land phone polling is becoming increasingly less accurate due to Cellphone use only (me included). Combine that with the built in bias of the media and you have 5-10% error built in…so I still believe that the worst that can happen is slim, a 3 to 7 seat loss in the House and 1-2 seat change for the Democrats in the Senate.

    If I watched only the major news channels, I would be totally depressed (which is how they want it).

    Comment by Deagle — 11/5/2006 @ 2:54 pm

  8. Perhaps a chastened and reformed GOP will give the voters a reason to trust them again.

    And perhaps Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert will flap their arms and fly to the mooooooooon.

    Comment by Nash Bridgestone — 11/5/2006 @ 4:51 pm

  9. The thought of two more years of quagmire in Iraq, two more years of out-of-sight deficits and national debt, two more years a prescription drug plan designed to benefit drug and insurance companies and does nothing to hold down the price of drugs, two more years of family values hypocrisy of the Foley variety, two more years of jeopardy to constitutional government in the United States by a president who apparently believes he is above the law, two more years of a Republican majority that believes in torture add up to the real possibility that the Democrats will win back the House and balance the excesses of the Bush administration and its minions

    Comment by Dick — 11/5/2006 @ 5:15 pm

  10. Nash Bridgestone,

    Yes, and maybe the Cut and Run Democrats will give us a reason to review the Vietnam War…and trust them again…

    Comment by Deagle — 11/5/2006 @ 5:47 pm

  11. The Dems won’t win the House unless they also win the Senate.


    Comment by E.L. Jordan — 11/5/2006 @ 8:53 pm

  12. Deagle,

    The people with out land lines account for 1% of the population. It will only matter with polling in the future.

    Comment by Pollster — 11/6/2006 @ 11:02 pm

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