Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Early Morning Analysis

Some thoughts on the national and state situation.

Life in the Big Blue Bubble
Maryland is just not following the rest of the nation in this election. O'Malley won by more than four years ago. My guess is Ehrlich was not helped by having held office before and he came across as reheated leftovers rather than something new. In legislative races, Dems lost six in the House but gained two in the Senate. If you like things Democratic, stay on this side of the Potomac.

Alex Mooney's Defeat
While just a single state senate race, it seems telling that the most strident and vocal Republican, especially on social issues, is a loser on a night that his party is winning all over the country. As it turns out, endless attacks on gays may not be a surefire ticket to Congress. Something to think about as polls continue to move in favor of gay rights.

Third Wave
The country has now just experienced its third wave election in a row, the first time I can recall this happening in my political memory. In 2006 and 2008, the country turned decisively against Republicans. In 2010, it turned against the Democrats. No one can take this discontented electorate for granted. Republicans should celebrate now because there is no guarantee for 2012.

2012 and 2014 in the U.S. Senate
Yep, election night has passed, so we can move on to forecasting the next cycle! Republicans will likely take control of the U.S. Senate in 2012 and hold it in 2014. Democrats did so well in 2006 and 2010 that they will be playing a lot more defense than offense in Senate elections.

Electorate Seriously Different This Year
As in some past midterm years, like 1994, the electorate this year is quite different than in presidential years. Much of this change represents not a basic shift in the electorate but who showed up to vote. Republicans were angry and turned out in droves. They cannot expect to dominate so easily in 2012 when the much large presidential electorate turns out. This makes Republicans vulnerable to losses in 2012.

On the other hand, this election has left Republicans well positioned to protect gains through redistricting. Republicans won some key races around the country, including the governorships of Florida and Ohio which should help them. Democrats will likely not have the same opportunity in California because redistricting has been handed to a commission there with a proposition giving it control of congressional as well as state legislative races. Republicans now hold more state legislative seats at any time since 1928 and now hold both chambers in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.

Plan on it. Both parties may feel some incentive to govern but they will both feel huge pressure from their bases. Many Republicans won on a no compromise platform even though our system is designed to force it. President Obama will wield the veto pen to defend Democratic initiatives. This situation poses huge dangers for Republicans as in 1994 as the President has a much bigger megaphone in which to message on the issues. Do we really think John Boehner will end up more popular than Nancy Pelosi?