Oct 18, 2013

Notes on the latest GOP temper tantrum:

  • Hey, I have gotten on board the Schadenfreude Express just like so many respected others, but really this whole latest debacle is not a laughing matter.  This GOP hissy fit has cost us over twenty billion dollars, and achieved absolutely nothing for the GOP, Democrats, or more importantly the country.  
  • Rafael Cruz has cynically used the TradMedia, what limited powers he has, and veterans in order to fill his personal campaign coffers, the coffers of Teabagging PACs, and get his lying smirking face all over the teevee all the time.  This supposed voice of the real America did not even have the guts (thankfully!) to delay the Senate's vote on Wednesday, and instead held his own personal presser while Senate leadership was detailing the "deal" to the American public.  It is strictly about self-aggrandizement for him, and his "mission" has nothing to do with honest to goodness public service.  
  • The GOP did win one thing that not many are talking about.  (Except digby, she talks about it every day.) The sequester needs to be repealed, and our nation deserves a real budget that will get the economy back on track and reduce unemployment.  We need no more Grand Bargains.  We need to stop talking about negotiating with the GOP about Social Security and Medicare.  Those programs should never be up for discussion regarding our budget.  The President stood tough this time.  He is not up for re-election anymore, and he needs to stand tough again.  
  • This is my new favorite blog.  I learned about it from Alex Gibney in a feature interview he did for the NYT on Sunday.  Check it out.  They did great coverage of the implications and possible reaction from the Fed if the debt ceiling had not been raised.  
  • Boehner's job is safe.  The asshat GOP Reps have circled the wagons around him, and are blaming the TradMedia, skewed polls, and a disrespectful evil President Obama for getting their asses handed to them.  And it is hilarious to see Pelosi bailing Boehner's ass out again, with over one hundred and ninety votes.  Pelosi was a great Speaker, and she deserves to be Speaker again.  She is a bona fide Political Powerhouse, and a fantastic Public Servant.  (Yeah, San Francisco!)
  • Obama said it best a couple of days ago, that if you want to make or change policy in this country, "Win an election."
  • I believe that the Treasury and the Fed will use "extraordinary" measures to extend the latest Debt Ceiling Deadline (February 2014) to later in the year.  I also believe that the GOP will do this all over again re a Government Shutdown in January, and that that is when some awful Grand Bargain deal will be reached. 
  • This guy is back. Read the whole thing, but this should be the big takeaway:
3. Democrats face extremely unfavorable conditions in trying to regain the House.

Even if the shutdown were to have a moderate political impact — and one that favored the Democrats in races for Congress — it might not be enough for them to regain control of the U.S. House. Instead, Democrats face two major headwinds as they seek to win back Congress.

First, there are extremely few swing districts — only one-half to one-third as many as when the last government shutdown occurred in 1996. Some of this is because of partisan gerrymandering, but more of it is because of increasingly sharp ideological divides along geographic lines: between urban and rural areas, between the North and the South, and between the coasts and the interior of the United States.

So even if Democrats make significant gains in the number of votes they receive for the House, they would flip relatively few seats because of the way those votes are distributed. Most of the additional votes would come in districts that Democrats were already assured of winning, or where they were too far behind to catch up.

Consider that, between 2010 and 2012, Democrats went from losing the average congressional district by seven percentage points to winning it by one percentage point — an eight-point swing. And yet they added only eight seats in the House, out of 435 congressional districts.

In 2014, likewise, it will require not just a pretty good year for Democrats, but a wave election for them to regain the House. But wave elections in favor of the party that controls the White House are essentially unprecedented in midterm years. Instead, the president's party has almost always lost seats in the House — or at best gained a handful.

One might be able to construct an argument for why the precedent could be violated. The pattern of the president's party losing seats in the midterms has been very strong in the past — but political scientists aren't quite sure why this is the case. One theory is that voters may elect members of Congress from the opposite party as a check on the president's power. But if Congress instead is seen as the more powerful entity, voters might desire to curb its power instead.

Essentially, Democrats will have to persuade swing voters that having Republicans in charge of one chamber in one branch of government is more dangerous than yielding unilateral control of the government to the Democrats — at a time when President Obama is fairly unpopular, and when the signature initiative of the last Democratic Congress has been rolled out badly. Moreover, the voters that Democrats have to persuade about this are somewhat right of center, since the median congressional district is somewhat Republican-leaning and since the voters who reliably turn out at midterm elections are older, whiter, and otherwise more conservative than those who vote in general elections. It's not an impossible task for Democrats, but the terrain is all uphill.

  • A lot of people do not know this but the Democrats beat the GOP in the general House vote by about a million and half votes in 2012.  The reason they did not take over the House was because the GOP kicked ass and had their voters come out in droves in all their elections.  Red states gerrymandered their districts in order to preserve a GOP controlled House.  The only flipping way you can change this is to vote Democratic in every single flipping election.  All of them.  Every time.  Every year.  All the time.  

All right, enough with the lecturing.  This blog will be a lot more fun in the coming weeks, I promise, with more Conversations with Nick C; a post on the Salinger movie; stuff about The Sopranos, Downton Abbey, and Foyle's War; a post about Pavement; more fun polls from the Spitler Extremely Scientific Polling Organization (SESPO); and much much more.

Here is a fun video to cheer everybody up in the meantime:

I love you all, keep watching this space,

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