September 19, 2006


Status Quo Election? (Bruce Bartlett, 9/19/06, Real Clear Politics)

It appears that congressional Republicans have dodged a bullet. If the election had been held six weeks ago, almost certainly they would have lost control of the House of Representatives and probably the Senate, as well. Since then, they have narrowed the gap with the Democrats to where it is starting to look like a status quo election in November, with no significant changes. [...]

I think this is too bad. The Republicans badly need a wake-up call. [...]

In any case, the problem of spending is not with programs subject to annual appropriations, but those where spending is automatic, known as entitlements. The real spending problem is in Medicare, which neither party has the guts to tackle. By comparison, all pork barrel spending plus every other case of waste, fraud and abuse taken together are a budgetary triviality compared to the problem of Medicare.

If Republicans end up losing in November, it should not be because they are gluttons for pork, but because they enacted a massively expensive, unfunded expansion of Medicare for prescription drugs.

Likewise, Mr. Bartlett must conclude that if Mr. Bush and the Republicans ring up their third consecutive surprisingly good result in this election it will be because of things like passing the prescription drug benefit that the overwhelming majority of America voters demanded and getting major Third Way reforms -- like HSAs -- in the process.

As much fun as it is to watch W make the Democrats' heads explode, it's going to be much more fun to watch all these libertarians and paleocons backpedaling wildly on their opinions of George W. Bush, just as they were forced to on Mr. Bartlett's old big-spending statist boss, Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2006 12:10 PM

Ooooooh! You did it now, OJ. You just blasphemed St. Ronaldus Magnus. So much for you getting a prominent column in NRO.

Posted by: Brad S at September 19, 2006 12:35 PM

This is funny. An alleged Repub pundit - okay, he's really a Dem but pretends otherwise - crying over continued Repub control of Congress. WAAAAAAAAWWWWW, Mommy, we keep winning elections!

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 19, 2006 12:35 PM

It's only gonna get worse for the likes of Bartlett.

Of course tho it's only the polls regarding the individual races that count, the generic poll in re Congress is beginning to look very bad for the Dems.

Iirc, anytime it gets under Dems+10 Republicans get control. Right now its under Dems +7 acc to RealClearPolitics. And we're still weeks away.

If current trends continue, we could be looking at a big Pubbie win in November.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 19, 2006 2:02 PM

The Northeast Corridor pundits already have their story line for the November elections, which is a Democratic takeover of the House and at least near takeover of the Senate, even if the explanations for it on the left and right are different. The latest numbers are causing some initial hedging of the NRO types, though most aren't ready yet to go into full warning beep backup mode and admit at least some of their thesis on what people were going to vote against was wrong. So you get stories saying the Republicans may not lose Congress, but here's why it would be better if they would.

Posted by: John at September 19, 2006 2:08 PM


Stole my thunder, you did: I was going to post something on this very subject in just a moment. Guess I'll do it anyway.

How many straight election cycles is this in which the press has assured us that the GOP will be wiped out?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 19, 2006 2:18 PM


That is a truly interesting thought: The conservative pundits take a lot of pride in correctly predicting elections, and perhaps subconsciously correct their psyches by telling themselves the GOP ought to lose when they don't.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 19, 2006 2:21 PM

The real story of this election, as well as the '02 and '04 elections, is/has been the ability of the GOP to drive turnout. Something that the GOP under St. Ronaldus Magnus had not been known to undertake, believing that they were above the rabble that they refused to pander to.

It is no surprise that NRO types refuse to understand the real story, as they themselves have issues with Red State conservative rabble.

Posted by: Brad S at September 19, 2006 2:45 PM

NRO has gone into their 2004 election day panic a little early. Yeah, I know, they've been razzed about November 2, 2004 forever...but they deserve it.

The problem is that most folks at NRO think Bush is dumb. Derbyshire is the most obvious believer in this cherished dogma, followed by Stuttaford and Buckley (the ex-Brits and the wanna-be-Brit.) But even if they're not quite so open about it, most of the other NROniks figure Bush is too stupid to win elections.

Bush's 2000, 2002 and 2004 wins didn't impress them. Their own gaffe on election day in 2004 didn't shame them. And the 2006 election probably won't convert them. The NRO pundits just know that the moron Bush has to lose.

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 19, 2006 3:42 PM

"If the election were held today" has got to be the stupidiest political polling question. People don't pay attention to politics all the time only make their voting decisions after having been hit by the campaigns for 6 to 8 weeks. At any other time, they're just regurgitating whatever were the last talking points they were exposed to.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 19, 2006 4:39 PM

"If the election had been held six weeks ago"

... we'd have two shopping days 'til Christmas.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at September 19, 2006 9:19 PM