Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
There aren't a lot of hard numbers in this typically lame piece from the WaPo, but it is close to what I think. You heard it here first: there's a really good chance that the Republicans will retain control of both houses this fall. Why? I can think of a couple of reasons.
First off, the Dems have been just pathetic in their GOTV efforts. I have read several posts from smarter people about how the Dems have utterly failed to take advantage of movements and trends this year, a prime example being the way in which the national Dem leadership failed to mobilize and coordinate with pro-immigration groups. Have you heard any prominent Democrat speak about turning that enormous bloc into registered Democrats? Neither have I.
On the other hand, Republicans are kicking Democratic ass with data mining and vote targeting. Way to avoid technology, Dems.
Secondly, from what I can tell, there seems to be an effort in the Democratic party to reward Republican-lite candidates while more or less ignoring actual progressive Democracts. Casey, Menendez and Webb come to mind. Edwards is out, Wynn is in, Lamont stumbles and we get choice quotes like this from our good buddy enabler Rahm:
but many Democrats in Washington have been "out over the tips of the skis" with unduly optimistic predictions of a November takeover of the House. "Anybody associated with this process the past 19 months has been nothing but pragmatic" about prospects for winning a majority, he said.
Which I translate as "suck it, progressives, if you're not with the DLC you're on your own."
Also, there's the issue of the SCLM and completely ineffective campaign ads. I confess to not seeing too many, but the ones I have seen make me want to barf. It seems to me that once again, most Democrats are relying on Beltway consultants who are giving Shrum-approved advice about being "civil" and "moderate" and otherwise failing to make any salient points in the ads. Democrats are working hard to avoid being "angry" and to focus on mushy constructions of the issues, while failing to reach out to the considerable well of anger and frustration that actually motivates the voters who show up in off year elections.
Finally, let's not forget that the Republicans are counting on a few depressing realities in American political trends. We've still got the "October Surprise" coming up, something Rove has already promised. Then there is the issue of declining gas prices- one of the few things which actually correlate with voting patterns. Smart people tell me not to wear the foil and to understand that gas prices decline mostly because of the way in which oil is traded by speculators, but still, it's pretty convenient for the Republicans to have things back in the $2.25/gal range. There's also the fact that as usual, Republicans have the advantage when it comes to money, and haven't yet shot their wad. We can expect quite the ad blitz in the last two weeks, along with plenty of coordination in the SCLM favoring "staying the course." I'm pretty sure a much more professional turn out the vote via churches effort is also in the works. We won't talk about the voting machines, because, you know, that's foily and stuff. "No one could've expected the Spanish Inquisition," and all that.
The American electorate has proven really gullible, uninformed, willing to ignore blatantly unconstitutional lawbreaking by one party, and otherwise unconcerned that this country is turning into a warmongering feudal kleptocracy with theocratic overtones. I really don't see the signs that this has changed in the last 12 months. Nor am I convinced that the Democratic party has come to terms with the fact that its leadership is good at little more than bashing its progressive base while propping up conservative DINOs at all costs. I had an enlightening conversation with an urban radical recently, and I feel very close to his perspective, which suggests that this election is effectively meaningless. In the sense of restoring constitutional democracy to this country, I'm starting to believe he's right.
To quote a frustrated friend: Someone call me when it's time to start shooting. Because watching this election season unfold has left me with little hope in anything else.