Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The House: Endangered Species

It’s hard enough to fight a civil war in your own party, let alone taking on the other party. Blue Dogs are fighting Progressives while Moderates are fighting Conservatives. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the 94 House moderates (52 Blue Dog, 42 RMSP) are at the top of the endangered lists. Most of them are in districts where the Cook Partisan Index is close to even or skews to the other party.

How bad is it?

Moderates in both parties are nearly three times as likely to have a competitive election. If they lose, however, they may not be replaced by a moderate from the other party. Many of these districts skew heavily to the other party. A candidate closer to the party line is just as likely to replace the congressman. Parker Griffith was a Blue Dog. When he switched parties he didn’t join the Republican Main Street Partnership. There is only one RMSP member in the South. Chances are that there won’t be 94 moderates in the 112th Congress.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Massachusetts: What It Means

There’s been a lot written on the upcoming election, including by me last weekend. People have talked about the significance, either dismissing it or proclaiming it’s huge. Special elections can tell you something about what’s going to happen. After all, Democrats won all the House special elections between 2006 and 2008. This election is enormously significant in a way that the New Jersey and Virginia governors’ races were not.

Obama had over 60% of the popular vote in 11 states including Massachusetts. If we look by Congressional district we find that Obama won 41 of 52 California districts, 79%, 12 of 15 in Michigan, 80%, 24 of 29 in New York, 83%, 16 of 19 in Illinois, 84%, and 7 of 8 in Wisconsin, 87%. He won all 10 Massachusetts Congressional districts. Obama didn’t just beat McCain by 26 points statewide. He beat McCain in all 10 Massachusetts congressional districts with the closest two districts being 12 and 17 point wins. There really was no pocket of McCain support.

All 10 Massachusetts congressmen are Democrats. In 2008 six of them ran unopposed. The other four beat their Republican opponent by 52, 46, 43, and 40 points. No one had to break a sweat.

Regardless whether he wins or loses Brown will beat Coakley in several congressional districts. Most of the districts have a similar Democratic skew but the Boston and suburban 8th is significantly heavy Democratic. Coakley’s total will likely include a high percentage from the 8th. Thus Coakley could win the election and possibly only win 4 of the 10 congressional districts.

Thus, a Republican will get more votes than a Democrat in anywhere from 3-7 congressional districts. A Republican hasn’t won a congressional district in Massachusetts since 1994. CQ Politics and Cook both rank the Massachusetts congressional races ranging from safe to safe. Suddenly that might come into question. The Republicans would actually attempt to field serious candidates in the previously safe Massachusetts districts and possibly in many other safe districts nationwide. CQ believes the Democrats will have to defend 73 districts. Cook says 85. None on either of those lists are in Massachusetts. After Tuesday there may be a few Massachusetts districts on there.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Could Scott Brown Win?

Massachusetts has the largest single party delegation on Capitol Hill. Since 1996 there have been 77 elections for the Senate and House in Massachusetts. The Democrats have won all 77. This is a very liberal state. That’s hardly news. Any election is usually a slam dunk for Democrats. Everyone assumed that whoever the Democrats nominated to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat would win going away. Republicans haven’t done well in special elections. They lost all four 2009 races after losing all the specials in 2008.

A few days ago Rasmussen came out with a poll that had Republican Scott Brown within nine points of Democrat Martha Coakley. Democrats were able to dismiss this because they believe that Rasmussen is a biased pollster. Today Public Policy Polling, a Democratic pollster, came out with a poll that has Scott Brown ahead by one point. I guess Rasmussen might not be as biased for the Republicans as they think.

Parties spin losses. The Democrats were able to spin the Virginia and New Jersey losses with fairly plausible rationalizations. There will be no spinning a Massachusetts loss. How did this happen?

1. Coakley isn’t that popular in Massachusetts. Progressives liked Alan Khazei. Their enthusiasm for Coakley is tepid at best. She has some strong negatives in Massachusetts. Brown isn’t very well known, but those that know him tend to have a favorable opinion of him.

2. The core of Barack Obama’s coalition can’t get excited for Coakley. African Americans and those under 25 never need a reason not to vote. If they’d shown up for John Kerry he would’ve won. You need to be dynamic charismatic candidate like Barack Obama to even interest these two groups. They didn’t show up for Creigh Deeds or Jon Corzine. It doesn’t appear they’ll be motivated for anyone other than Barack Obama.

3. While Democrats aren’t interested Republicans are. In Massachusetts 66% of GOP are “very excited” while 48% of Democrats are. Independents are not Democrats for a reason. They appear to be overwhelmingly switching from the Democrats to the Republicans.

America doesn’t have a favorable view of the Republican Party. This actually works in the GOP’s favor. Democrats can’t play up Republican negatives. America knows them and still wants to vote Republican. They dislike the Democrats and the Democrats are in control. America will vote for a turnip over a Democrat right now. They can shout, “Do you really want to return to the Bush years?” at the top of their lungs all they want. Right now Bush’s recession doesn’t seem so bad. At least we had jobs.

The Democrats thought America bought what they were selling, instead of not wanting what the Republicans were selling. So they set out on a go it alone hyper-partisan agenda. And now America hates them too. Of course if Republicans start believing America wants what they’re selling they’ll be voted out shortly after they’re voted in.

I don’t know if Coakley can lose, but that we’re considering that she could is amazing. Democrats have won every election in Massachusetts regardless whether Clinton won or Bush won. Now, a year after the most popular Democrat won, they’ve dropped far enough that they can lose this seat.