election 2010

Election 2010: Post-Mortem

UPDATED 11/05/10

This is a followup on my election-morning predictions, a prognosis about the next two years, and a diagnosis of the “progressive” disease.

I expected the GOP to gain eight seats in the Senate. But that prediction ran aground on the narrow wins by Democrats Michael Bennet and Harry Reid in Colorado and Nevada. The race in Washington hasn’t been decided, but it seems that Patty Murray will retain her seat.  The Alaska seat will wind up in GOP hands — it’s just a question of whose hands. So, when the dust settles, the GOP will have gained 6 seats and the Dems will retain a majority. That’s as good as it was likely to get. And it’s good enough, because with 47 seats (and only two or three RINOs in the mix) the GOP will command a cloture-proof minority.

Things turned out better in the House. I expected the GOP to end up with 237 seats. But when the dust settles on 10 9 undecided races, the GOP probably will hold between 239 seats (the current count) and 242 seats (adding 3 races now led by GOP candidates). Needless to say, the GOP will command the agenda in the House. The incoming tide of new Republican members will put a lot of pressure on GOP leaders to undo what Pelosi and company wrought. The stumbling blocks will be the Democrat-controlled Senate and the veto pen of BHO.

Republicans gained a lot of ground in the States, as indicated by the pickup of 12 governorships. (The Democrat pickup in California makes little difference in cloud-cuckoo-land, where the main difference between Arnold Schwarzenegger and his successor, Moonbeam Brown, is their accents.) Greater GOP strength at the State level will mean two things: more resistance to the expansion of federal power, and redistricting of the House in ways favorable to future Republican prospects.

The next two years at the “seat of government” (SOG) in D.C. will be filled with GOP initiatives to roll back the Obama agenda, name-calling by Democrats, and (I hope) gridlock combined with some rollback of Obamacare.

The next two years also will be filled with rationalizations by “progressives,” who — in so many words — will blame the backwardness of the American electorate for the events of November 2. “Progressives,” like their putative leader in the White House, already have adopted the myth that things would have turned out differently if only they had found a way to get their “message” across. Well, they did get their “message” across:

  • Pork disguised as stimulus, which did not and will not stimulate because the economy isn’t a hydraulic mechanism that responds automatically to pump-priming.
  • Financial regulations that will make it harder for Americans to borrow money.
  • A Rube Goldberg plan for reforming the health care “system” that will make it harder for Americans to obtain insurance and less rewarding for doctors and other providers to deliver medical services.

Such is “progressivism” at work: Good intentions (to put the best face on it) thwarted by unintended consequences because “progressives” believe that “hope and change” trump the realities of economic (and social behavior) — realities that “the masses” are able to grasp, if only viscerally.

Moreover, there was — and is — the disdain in which “progressives” hold “the masses,” who exist (in the “progressive” imagination) to be talked down to and led by the hand to the promised land of economic and social bliss — as it is envisioned by “progressives.”

I have news for “progressives.” When you talk down to most adults — and even to a lot of children — they quickly perceive three things: (a) you don’t respect their intelligence and (b) you are therefore trying to do something that’s against their interest. You really lose them when you promise things that they know (or suspect) will cost them liberty as well as money.

“Progressives” seem to believe in economic stability at any price, including the price of liberty and prosperity. A lot of “the masses” aren’t buying it. Good for them.

Today, the Battle Begins

The GOP will win big, but that’s only the beginning.

Republicans in Congress must prove their commitment to limited, fiscally conservative government. And the Republican Party must make a compelling case to Americans that limited, fiscally conservative government is the only sure route to liberty and prosperity. If those conditions aren’t met, today’s resounding victory at the polls will be a hollow one.

Here are my final predictions.

  • Based on current Intrade odds on individual Senate races, it looks like the GOP will gain seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This will cut the Democrat majority in the Senate from 59-41 to 51-49, and leave that body in gridlock.
  • In the House, the GOP will gain about 60 seats and a majority of 39 seats (237-198) to 41 seats (238-197). (For details of my sources and methods, see “One Week Hence” and “Will the GOP Take the House?“)

Tomorrow

UPDATED AND REVISED 11:00 PM (CT)

Rasmussen’s net unpopularity rating of Obama was -11 as of this morning, which is about as good as it gets these days. If that number were to hold on election morning, it would point to a GOP majority of 232-203 in the House.* That would represent a net gain of 53 seats for the GOP.**

HOWEVER, Rasmussen has just released the result of his generic congressional ballot for 10/31/10, which gives GOP House candidates a 12-percentage-point edge over their Democrat rivals. Allowing for some backsliding (10 percent of respondents remain noncommittal), I forecast a GOP edge of 7.4 percentage points. That translates into a 237-198 majority for the GOP — a net gain of 58 seats.

Over in the Senate, the Intrade odds on individual races indicate a 50-50 split, with a few races hanging in the balance. That would be a gain of 9 seats for the GOP.

I will issue my final predictions tomorrow morning.
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* For details about sources and methods, see “One Week Hence” and “Will the GOP Take the House?

** Republicans currently hold 178 seats. In addition, a seat that had been held by a Republican is vacant. I therefore use 179 as a baseline for computing GOP gains.

Scare Tactics at Work

First, there’s the well-timed al Qaeda plot. Then, there’s the Stewart-Colbert “Sanity” rally.  Both are efforts to scare independent voters away from GOP candidates on November 2.

Al Qaeda’s leaders evidently assume that America’s independent voters will emulate Spain’s voters, and rally to the party of appeasement. There may be some truth in that. With a full day to absorb the news of the aborted terror plot, Obama’s unpopularity index suddenly improved from -17 to -13 — a swing that is well outside the normal range. (For the electoral implications of this shift, see the updated version of “One Week Hence…“.) Or it could be that some independent voters are having second thoughts as election day approaches. In any event, the bomb plot was well-timed and almost certainly pushed some voters in the direction preferred by al  Qaeda.

The transparent aim of the “Sanity” rally was to shame independent voters away from an association-by-ballot with those “hate-filled, racist, fear-mongering” Tea Partiers.

How will it all turn out? We’ll know the answer to that question in less than 72 hours.

One Week Hence . . .

The outlook for November 2, as of today (UPDATED 10/31/10):

  • (Not updated since 10/26/10.) Based on current Intrade odds on individual Senate races, it looks like the GOP will gain seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This will cut the Democrat majority in the Senate from 59-41 to 51-49, thus enabling the GOP to block legislation despite the lingering presence of a few RINOs.
  • (Updated 10/31/10.) Over in the House, it looks like the GOP will gain about 60 seats, to re-take the House with a majority of 33 seats (234-201) to 35 seats (235-200). (Only the latter projection has been updated since 10/26/10.)
  • (Added 10/30/10; revised 10/31/10.) The well-timed discovery of a terrorist plot, combined with the “Sanity” rallies, may have helped to push some independent voters away from the GOP. Obama’s unpopularity index (as reported by Rasmussen) has improved by 6 percentage points in two days, from -19 to -17 to -13. Today’s  4-point swing is outside the normal range of day-to-day changes in the index.

My forecast of Republican gains in the House is based on two indicators. The first is Scott Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot, which has been polled weekly since January 11, 2009. The data points in the graph below represent the results of the poll, to date. Although the GOP enjoys a lead of 9 percentage points in the latest poll (10/24/10), my analysis indicates that there will be a slight reversal of GOP gains as more noncommittal voters choose sides. The solid black line, which is fitted to the data points, shows that the downward trend has begun. A separate statistical analysis yields the dashed black line, which indicates a GOP lead of 6.5 percentage points (a 234-201 majority) when the polls close on November 2.

The second indicator of GOP prospects in the House is the degree of Obama’s unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.

This graph is derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll. The points on the graph represent the weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls for January 8, 2009, through October 24, 2010. The equation in the graph indicates that if Obama’s unpopularity index stays at its current level of -13 percentage points, GOP candidates for House seats will outpoll their Democrat opponents by6.7 percentage points on election day. That translates into a majority of 235-200.

(Added 10/31/10.) As I said in “Two Weeks Hence“:

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

Two Weeks Hence . . .

This post combines and updates the analyses and forecasts I presented in “Three Weeks Hence . . .” and “Another Election Indicator.”

As of today (UPDATED 10/23/10):

  • The GOP will gain 8 Senate seats, leaving the Democrats with a 51-49 majority in the Senate. (This estimate is based on the Intrade odds on individual Senate races.)
  • Over in the House, it looks like the GOP will re-take the House, with a majority ranging from 25 seats (230-205) to 33 seats (234-201) 53 seats (244-191).

My forecast of Republican gains in the House is based on two indicators. The first is Scott Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot, which has been polled weekly since January 11, 2009. The data points in the graph below represent the results of the poll, to date. Although the GOP enjoys a lead of 9 percentage points in the latest poll, my analysis indicates that there will be a slight reversal of GOP gains as more noncommittal voters choose sides. The solid black line, which is fitted to the data points, shows that the downward trend has begun. A separate statistical analysis yields the dashed black line, which points to a GOP lead of 6.7 percentage points (a 234-201 majority) when the polls close on November 2.

The second indicator of GOP prospects in the House is Obama’s degree of unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.

This graph is derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll. The points on the graph represent the weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls for January 8, 2009, through October 17, 2010. If Obama’s unpopularity index stays at its current level of -10 -19 percentage points, the equation for the regression line in the graph yields a GOP advantage of 5.5 9.0 percentage points in the popular vote for House candidates. That translates into a majority of 230-205 244-191.

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

Another Election Indicator

The GOP’s prospects for re-taking the House of Representatives track nicely with the course of Obama’s unpopularity. The following graph depicts the relationship between Obama’s net unpopularity (percentage strongly disapproving less percentage strongly approving) and the number of percentage points by which votes cast for GOP House candidates will exceed votes cast for Democrat candidates.


Derived from the results of Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and presidential tracking poll.

The points on the graph represent weekly results of the two Rasmussen polls from January 8, 2009, through October 10, 2010. I will update the graph following the release of congressional ballot results for October 17, 24, and 31.

Obama’s current unpopularity rating is -14 percentage points. If it stays around that level, the GOP will do as well as I forecast in “Three Weeks Hence“: a 37-seat majority in the House. Even if Obama enjoys a sudden resurgence to -10 — which is his standing when his “base” flocks to him — the GOP will enjoy a 5 percentage point advantage in the popular vote for House candidates. That translates into a 21-seat majority.

All of this assumes no major shocks between now and election day — nothing on the order of a terror attack, a specific terror threat, a scandal involving a major political figure, and so on.

Three Weeks Hence . . .

. . . the GOP will retake the House and possibly the Senate. If the election were held today, Republicans would capture a 45-seat majority in the House (240-195) and a 51-49 majority in the Senate.

What will happen in the next three weeks? Some voters (mainly independents) will be unable to resist the allure of “something for nothing” (e.g., Obamacare) and will vote for Democrats in the end.

My fearless prediction (which I may change at any time):

  • 37-seat GOP majority in the House (236-199)
  • 50-50 split in the Senate (with Dem VP breaking ties in favor of Dem positions)

It won’t be possible for Republicans to repeal Obamacare. But with absolute control of the House and a cloture-proof voting bloc in the Senate, the GOP will be able to impede the implementation of Obamacare, while blocking other statist initiatives.

It remains to be seen whether congressional Republicans (or enough of them) can resist the urge to seem “compassionate” rather than “mean.”

*     *     *

My forecast of Republican gains in the House is based on Scott Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot, which has been polled weekly since January 11, 2009. The data points in the graph below represent the results of the poll, to date. The blue point represents last week’s anomalous dip in the GOP’s fortunes; the red point represents this week’s results, which are in keeping with the long-term trend. My analysis indicates that there will be a slight reversal of GOP gains, as more noncommittal voters choose sides. The slowing of GOP gains is indicated by the shape of the solid black line, which is fitted to the data points. My statistical projection of the trend between now and election day is indicated by the dashed black line.  The odds in favor of a GOP majority are about 9-1.