Patterico's Pontifications

1/7/2010

2010 Themes: This way to the egress

Filed under: General — Karl @ 12:35 pm



[Posted by Karl]

On Monday, The Hill’s Aaron Blake asked a number of questions for analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. The second question was, “How many more Democrats head for the exits?” Since then, three prominent Democrats have announced they will not seek relection — Sens. Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd, plus Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. And Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry abandoned his campaign for governor. But these announcements may tell us less about 2010 than the instant reactions — or Blake’s piece — might suggest.

First, as lefty bloggers like Steve Benen were quick to note, even now, more GOP incumbents are retiring in the House, Senate and governorships than Democrats. Moreover, the number of vulnerable seats at issue with these retirements remains roughly equal. The conventional wisdom is that open seats are generally easier pickups, but regardless of where one comes down on that question, the landscape is close to a wash numerically.

Second, the retirements do not always benefit the GOP. Dorgan’s retirement is a likely GOP pickup, especially if (as expected) Gov. John Hoeven gets into the race. But Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal looks like a much stronger candidate than Chris Dodd, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (fmr. Sen. Ken Salazar is out) looks to be a stronger challenger than Ritter, and probably anyone could be a better candidate than Cherry. Granted, the fact that fresh faces apparently poll better than Dem incumbents does not bode well for Dems generally, but it demonstrates that an open seat is not always the best scenario for the party out of power, either.

Nevertheless, retirements can be an indicator of internal weakness. After all, one might expect fewer retirements among the party in power than in the out party. In addition, as Sean Trende noted back in October, in 1994, even if all of the Democrats who voted for the Clinton budget or the assault weapons ban had run for re-election, Republicans could have defeated enough of them to retake the House. It is too soon to say whether 2010 is shaping up as another 1994 — but the GOP does not have to win as many seats this year as they did in 1994, either.

–Karl

Thanks to RCP’s Jay Cost, for inspirational supporting links via Twitter.

26 Responses to “2010 Themes: This way to the egress”

  1. One is reminded of the remark by Peter Jennings in looking at the ’94 results as “white males having a hissy fit”.
    Will historians see the ’06-’08 results as one where the American voter had a severe lapse of judgement/memory, and needed a reminder of what they had rejected previously?
    As the Party of the Left has attempted to intertwine the Federal Government into every aspect of American Life, the voter – and taxpayer – is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the scope and size of the government at all levels, and is demanding a restructuring.
    This is the message of the Taxed Enough Already Party!

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  2. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (fmr. Sen. Ken Salazar is out) looks to be a stronger challenger than Ritter

    If Hickenlooper has a strong shot, it will be because of people who vote Democrat in Colorado no matter what. From a policy perspective, I can’t see how he would have much appeal outside of Boulder County (hippies and college students), Eagle County (limousine liberals), and Denver (urban hipsters, welfare cases, and government employees); the migration of people from California and Texas has eased the regional conflicts in the state somewhat, but there’s still quite a bit of bad blood between the Front Range and the Western Slope, especially over water issues.

    He’s a congenial guy and Bill Owens was able to make that work for two terms, but I think people are going to be disappointed if they expect another Dick Lamm or Roy Romer should he be elected.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  3. Roy Romer…
    Does this mean that the LAUSD has Bill Ritter in their future?
    Heaven Help Us!

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  4. “Nevertheless, retirements can be an indicator of internal weakness. After all, one might expect fewer retirements among the party in power than in the out party.”

    One might. And that is what we see.

    imdw (842182)

  5. imdw,

    I made that point in the original post. But rough parity in retirements when the filing deadlines are generally not upon us should be marginally more troubling to the party in power.

    Karl (5aa229)

  6. Hickenlooper is not nutty enough for Boulder to get too excited about, and has no real popularity outside of Denver proper. I would not exaggerate his chances in a state-wide governor’s race frankly. That said, the Republican bench for the seats open in Colorado is not deep.

    And given the unpopularity of Michael Bennett, the empty suit Senator appointed from his mediocre job as Denver superintendent of schools to fill Salazar’s seat, the ballot is not going to look all that friendly to Democrats in Colorado in November 2010.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  7. “…marginally more troubling…”

    For imadumbass, marginally is the operative word.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  8. It is nearly a year to the election and the trend does not seem to be reversing so I expect it will be worse for Democrats in November than it is now. There seems to be a hope that the economy will turn around and jobs will pick up but I see no reason for this to be the case. As another site pointed out earlier this week, the job situation in this country is quite different than it was 50 years ago. Today, the best that large companies do is to stay even in the number of jobs they maintain. There is very little new job creation, even in good times, as productivity allows more production with fewer jobs. The job engine if this economy is small business and that source is in big trouble.

    The Obama administration is the most hostile administration to small business in American history.

    In the latest move, the Obama administration is looking to provide loans and tax breaks to small businesses, nonsensically on the heels of initiating policies that will dramatically increase taxes on those same small businesses.

    Routinely the media and politicians vilify financial institutions for ripping off the public, insurance companies for making excessive profits on health care, and multi-national corporations for dodging U.S. taxes. This demonization serves as a basis for increasing taxes on the wealthy and changing some government contract workers into federal government employees.

    Small business owners are then expected to fund stimulus packages, bailouts of incompetent auto companies, health care reform or whatever else the government can justify in the name of “recovery.”

    Let’s keep it simple. Small businesses – including the majority of defense contractors – are capable and willing to lead the charge of job creation and economic recovery. We just need support, not accusations and more barriers. The economy makes reducing unemployment tough enough. An unfriendly political environment for business keeps us from doing what we would otherwise be busy doing, creating jobs.

    There will be poor job growth until the administration changes its policies or is replaced.

    That will not be a good platform for Democrats to run on. Most taxpayers already know about the public employee pension crisis. That is an albatross around the neck of Democrats.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  9. And given the unpopularity of Michael Bennett, the empty suit Senator appointed from his mediocre job as Denver superintendent of schools to fill Salazar’s seat, the ballot is not going to look all that friendly to Democrats in Colorado in November 2010.

    I give Bennett credit for having the balls to shut down Manual and start from scratch after several years of that school going down the tubes in the post-busing era. He caught a lot of hell for it, but I’m amazed he stuck to his guns and acknowledged that it was broken as an educational institution. Too bad he didn’t go further and do the same with North, which is just as much of a basketcase.

    That said, it was disappointing that he chose to accept the Senate seat, but I guess getting sucked up to as a Senator by lobbyists beats getting harangued on a daily basis by entitled parents and students who are more content to wallow in mediocrity.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  10. if the tsunami wipes out even stronger dems it will be even better and more damaging.

    lonetown (a3c6a2)

  11. “I made that point in the original post. But rough parity in retirements when the filing deadlines are generally not upon us should be marginally more troubling to the party in power.”

    Why would that be?

    Though we may be wrong to look at this in raw numbers. As a percentage of incumbents, “rough parity” — as you like to term more GOP retirements than dem ones — makes the minority party look as if it has even more retirements.

    imdw (a508a9)

  12. I saw somewhere that a high percentage of GOP retirees from the House were actually leaving to run for higher office (Senator, Governor or in one case State Agriculture Commissioner (!?)), while all but 2 or 3 of the Dems were just getting out. So the Republicans may be leaving because things look good, not bad. This does not apply to the Senate, clearly.

    Mahon (5e03e9)

  13. Rather than make the comparison to ’94, I’m seeing many more parallels (unfortunately for the country) with Carter. Rank incompetence at almost every Cabinet level, a huge deficit and not one real proposal to get the small business engine going again, which leads every recessionary economy first out of the doldrums. Not only are they absent of any tangible ideas, they’re doubling down on their stupidity regarding taxation and regression – type funding schemes. One more parallel to Carter; we’ve got one of the weakest Commander – in – Chiefs since Clinton, and no one among the populace likes to be made a fool for very long on the international stage, no matter how many Nobels are awarded for pretty and vapid speechmaking.

    Dmac (a964d5)

  14. In a way it’s a win-win (of sorts). Even if the GOP does not pick up the seat, in getting rid of the Democrat incumbent hack (like Dodd) at least there is some chance that a Democrat replacement will be more attuned to what the people want and not what the Permanent Washington Establishment wants. I know, we are still talking about Democrats here, but a man can dream.

    JVW (8704f2)

  15. imdw asks:

    “Why would that be?”

    Because people out of power have more incentive to go do other things than people who are in power. That really can’t be a tricky concept, can it?

    Karl (cc4af5)

  16. will be more attuned to what the people want

    I suspect that what the people of Connecticut want is very different from what the people of, say, Nebraska want.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  17. It will be interesting to see what opposition research digs up on Mr.Blumenthal, who doesn’t seem to be a very sympathetic/charismatic person.

    This is going to be an anti-incumbernt and anti-party of government election – and the Dems are the party of government.
    How else do you explain the cratering of Coakley’s numbers in MA – she should be walking away with this special election, and the trend line is very unfavorable.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  18. “Because people out of power have more incentive to go do other things than people who are in power. That really can’t be a tricky concept, can it?”

    No not that tricky. But then that means the out of power people are not expecting to be the people in power in the next term.

    imdw (603c39)

  19. Or, it could mean that they have a real life, and know that there is more to life than being an elected politician.

    Being in politics is something one should aspire to do after actually accomplishing something –
    like building a business, raising a family, being a positive role model within the community.
    You know, the whole citizen-legislator thing.

    AD - RtR/OS! (88245d)

  20. “Or, it could mean that they have a real life, and know that there is more to life than being an elected politician.”

    Aw, I’m sure Eric Cantor has a real life.

    imdw (603c39)

  21. Aw, I’m sure Eric Cantor has a real life.

    Comment by imdw

    Good observation. Most Republicans have a real life as opposed to Democrats who live for political office. That was actually a theme of the 2000 elections as a lot of people felt that Bush would still have a life if he didn’t win but Gore would be devastated. We actually had a test of that and Gore went batshit.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  22. To my admittedly biased eye, it appears more Republicans view government office to be a transitional thing and self-term-limit themselves than do Democrats. That said, I’m glad Voinovich is self-term-limiting himself. Perhaps Ohio can get a Conservative this time, who knows.

    Oh, and another Republican from Ohio, a Conservative who self-term-limited from Congress a few years ago looks likely to be our next governor. John Kasich, from the Columbus area.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  23. Oh, and was that P.T. Barnum who had the entryway to the egress? That was great business-man thinking.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  24. I suspect that what the people of Connecticut want is very different from what the people of, say, Nebraska want.

    It’s a good point, aphrael, but I think it reinforces the point I am making. The people of Connecticut may or may not want a committed liberal (lots of NYC bedroom communities like social liberalism but don’t want to pay Democrat-level taxes), but what they have grown tired of is a tired old hack secure in his sinecure. In Nebraska, a guy like Nelson had up until now probably represented as far left as a Democrat could travel and still win statewide office. His vote on Obama/Pelosi/ReidCare, and his tortured explanation as to why he cast the vote, probably has doomed the Democrats in Nebraska for this next election cycle. Nelson himself is up for reelection in 2012 and two years can be a lifetime in politics, but I think anyone betting today would assume that Nelson will no longer be a Senator from Nebraska in February 2013.

    JVW (8704f2)

  25. “That was actually a theme of the 2000 elections as a lot of people felt that Bush would still have a life if he didn’t win but Gore would be devastated.”

    And Bush kept up his life pretty good even having winning, declaring a “Western white house” and enjoying himself quite well. But you may be on to something, lately the GOP hasn’t just been retiring more, they sometimes even quit halfway trhough their terms! They definitely want to do lots of other things besides actually work at governing.

    imdw (017d51)

  26. Off-topic: LA Times to close Orange County something or other, cutting 80 jobs. (printing facility?) I just heard it on Rush.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3724 secs.