Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Oh, so close!

Republicans barely held on to a congressional seat today in a special election for Ohio's 2nd District. Holding the largely conservative district was not the surprise - having the Republican vote drop from 70% one year ago to 52% today was. Paul Hackett, Democrat and Iraq war veteran, came within 3 points of Republican Jean Schmidt, a strong proponent of Bush's foreign policy, in the contest to replace former Representative John Portman recently appointed by Bush as a U.S. trade representative. So though the Democrats did not pick up a seat today, the closeness of the vote likely reflects continued erosion for Bush's policies.

Hackett did have some other things going for him, and Schmidt was not universally loved on the Republican side, but still it leads to speculation about further vulnerabilities for the Republicans in other districts in 2006 where Republican margins have been slimmer. I'll try to find a histogram of percentage margins of victory by party across all districts from the last election or two and report back.

I do think this portends well for considerable Democratic pickups in the House in 2006, possibly even a return to the majority, but no I don't think the Dems have a shot at the Senate until 2008. It's just a matter of numbers and which seats are going to be open, that the Republicans could withstand quite a large disaffection with their policies and still not lose the Senate.

There are only 33 seats up in the Senate, and just over half of those are held by Democrats (17-16). Compare that to the 2008 elections where Republican held seats outnumber Democratic seats by a whopping 21-12! The Republicans will have a lot of work to defend their majority in that election, especially if they lose 1-3 seats in 2006.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has been very active pounding the drums for the upcoming election (based on the number of emails they send me), as they should, but their talk of taking back the Senate is just so much bluster in my view. Yes, Santorum is not only vulnerable, it would be shocking to me if he were not defeated in Pennsylvania. But beyond that I see 4 Dem seats vulnerable (FL, ND, NE, WA) and only 3 other Rep seats vulnerable (MT, OH, RI). Also there are pretty much equal numbers in the probably safe and safe categories for each party. The Democrats would have to hold on to every one of their seats (unlikely enough), take every vulnerable Republican seat, and knock off a couple in the probably safe category to retake the majority.

That's why I say, quit your dreaming and focus on the House where EVERY seat is always up for reelection. Anything could happen even in spite of all the safe districting which has been going on.

One other note: As exasperated as I sometimes get with many Democrats' insistence on unreasonable orthodoxy with respect to a whole litany of issues which are not logically connected, I remain as partisan as anyone when it comes to representatives in legislative bodies. It's not because I am so enamored of the Democrats' policies, as it is because of the urgency of abating the runaway train of insane policies being promoted by the Republicans currently at the helm. That's why I would vote for an idiotic lefty ideologue with a D by their name over a sensible moderate and intelligent candidate with an R by their name - when it comes to Congress. At the moment it is more important that Republicans lose the clout of being the majority party than it is that one out of 435 representatives better represent me. It is an unfortunate practical political reality, which I desperately hope will change within the next decade.

1 comment:

-epm said...

"At the moment it is more important that Republicans lose the clout of being the majority party than it is that one out of 435 representatives better represent me."

This is my feeling exactly. It's not an individual Republican here or there that's driving the car off the road, it's the Republican leadership. Since rank and file Republicans have shown themselves to be willing to chuck their moral character out the window in the name of power and privilege, the only way to change the Republican leadership is to remove as many Republican representitives as possible, no matter how kind-hearted or reasonable an individual that rep. may be.

For my little part, I'm on a editorial letter writing campaign to slowly chip away at the credibility of my unanimously Republican representatives. My hope is to raise questions in the minds of people who vote Republican more out of habit than conviction. Hopefully, come Nov 06 enough people will be sufficiently disillusioned with their Republican representatives to vote them out.