October 15, 2006


Democrats Have Intensity, but G.O.P. Has Its Machine (ROBIN TONER, 10/15/06, NY Times)

Voter intensity is a critical element in politics, especially in midterm elections, when Americans’ interest and turnout are typically much lower than in a presidential election year. Pollsters say enthusiasm among Democrats is particularly high this year — significantly higher, by several important measures, than the intensity of Republicans.

Republican strategists counter that they can compensate for any gap in enthusiasm with their legendary get-out-the-vote operation. The party has built its electoral success in the last two elections on identifying and producing nearly every obtainable Republican vote at the polls; this time may be more challenging, they say, but no different.

“I do think our base is coming together and will be coming together later, but four weeks is an eternity in this business,” said Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and longtime party strategist. Republicans will ultimately be motivated to vote, Mr. Cole said, and they will turn out on Election Day even if “this is a race where professionalism has to make up for enthusiasm.”

Even so, in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted Oct. 5-8, 46 percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous Congressional elections, compared with 33 percent of Republicans.

A similar trend appears in recent polls by the Pew Research Center and Gallup, which show that Democrats’ level of engagement is higher than in the midterm elections of 2002, 1998 and especially 1994, when a Republican landslide gave the party control of the House and Senate.

How Bad Will It Be?: The GOP debacle to come (Fred Barnes, 10/23/2006, Weekly Standard)
REPUBLICANS and conservatives, brace yourselves! Strategists and consultants of both parties now believe the House is lost and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will become speaker. At best, Republicans will cling to control of the Senate by a single seat, two at most. For many election cycles, Republicans have been the boys of October, using paid media and superior campaign skills to make up lost ground and win in November. This year, they were the boys of September, rallying strongly until that fateful day, September 29, when the Mark Foley scandal erupted. October has been a disaster so far. A strong finishing kick for Republicans, minimizing Democratic gains, is possible. They pulled one off brilliantly in President Bush's first midterm election in 2002. But recovery will be harder this time, a lot harder.

The press is fixated on the so-called generic ballot--Do you want a Democratic or Republican Congress?--as an indicator of Republican setbacks on November 7. But that gauge has rarely been predictive. Two others are more reliable: presidential approval and party enthusiasm. And they tell an ominous story for Republicans about the difference between 2002 and 2006.

Presidential approval correlates with how the president's party fares in midterm elections. It's simple: High approval is linked to election success, low approval to defeat. In October 2002, with Bush's approval at 62 percent in the Gallup Poll, Republicans won six seats in the House and two in the Senate. Now Bush is at 37 percent in Gallup. The inescapable conclusion is that Bush
lacks the clout with the public he had four years ago. To make matters worse, presidents associated with unpopular wars are historically a drag on their parties (Truman, LBJ).

The most overlooked election indicator is the level of voter enthusiasm. In every election from 1994 through 2004, Republicans were more enthusiastic than Democrats. That was a decade of Republican growth. This year Democrats are more excited. And it's measurable. In 2002, 42 percent of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about the election. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats said the same. In 2006, the numbers have flipped. Republican enthusiasm has dipped to 39 percent and Democratic enthusiasm has jumped to 48 percent. Enthusiasm affects turnout. Gloomy voters are less inclined to vote.

GOP panic over midterm elections ends at White House front door (Michael Abramowitz, 10/15/06, The Washington Post)
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the midterm elections, two people strike even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove. [...]

The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence — based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command — or of self-delusion. Many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, although they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.

To Rove and the small cadre of operatives who have been at his side throughout the administration, confidence flows from a conviction that a political operation that has produced three consecutive national victories is capable of one more, despite voter disaffection with Iraq and GOP scandals.

It seems unlikely that you can really work up Democratic passions when the economy is booming--particularly when unemployment is virtually non-existent--but the Right did work itself into a tizzy in '92 and cost George HW Bush re-election, so anything's possible.

As AWW points out, we need to come up with an election contest. Anyone got any ideas? Races we should include? How about you have to pick the overall House number, 10 or so Senate races and a couple governorships?

Democrats counting on zeal (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/15/06)

Democrats hope enthusiasm trumps Republican efficiency in the battle for control of Congress. Otherwise, they concede, they will have problems on Nov. 7 as a party still struggling to catch up with Republicans' ability to get voters to go to the polls.

"Makes me green with envy," said Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights. [...]

"If the Republicans are less enthused, the independents are breaking our way, and the Democratic base is highly enthused, then we're in very good shape," said Karin Johanson, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

An election Foley-equipped with frivolity (MARK STEYN, 10/15/06, Chicago Sun-Times)
Who is James Vicini? Well, he works for Reuters, the storied news agency. By "storied," I don't mean in the Hans Christian Andersen sense, though these days it's hard to tell. But they have an illustrious history and they're globally respected and whatnot. And last week newshound Vicini got assigned quite an interesting story:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A California-born convert to Islam, accused of making a series of al-Qaida propaganda videos, became on Wednesday the first American charged with treason since the World War II era, U.S. Justice Department officials said.

"Fugitive Adam Gadahn, 28, who is believed to be in Pakistan, was accused of treason, which carries a maximum punishment of death . . ."

Wow! Treason! First time in half-a-century, since the Tokyo Rose days. Since then, of course, the very word "treason" has come to seem arcane, if not obsolescent, like something some fellow in doublet-and-hose might accuse somebody of on "Masterpiece Theatre" but otherwise not terribly relevant and frankly no big deal: Indeed, the campus left usually gives the impression that "treason" is little more than an alternative lifestyle, like transvestism.

Yet the Justice Department wants this fellow over in Pakistan for treason. Now why would they do such a thing? After chugging through the various charges, Vicini got to the meat of his story: "Justice Department officials denied the case was timed to deflect attention from the fallout over lewd computer messages sent by a former Republican congressman to young male aides, a scandal that may help Democrats seize control of Congress in the Nov. 7 elections."

Cut out that paragraph and have it framed. Or now that the nights are drawing in, if you're at a loose end of an evening, sew it into an attractive sampler and hang it in your parlor. In years to come, you'll spend many precious moments treasuring it as the perfect summation of the 2006 U.S. election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2006 9:25 AM

How to get workers to vote against their own best interests?

How about scaring them to death with the suspiciously timely mass marketing of survival gear kits at the big box stores. Instapundit has a long post approving the concept.

Posted by: erp at October 15, 2006 10:49 AM

The voters no longer perceive that voting R is necessarily in their interests.

This may be a mistaken perception, but it is where things stand nonetheless.

If there is any word to describe Republican Leadership, it is "tired." Bush looks tired, Hastert looks like he wants to get back to his vat of fried chicken, the party's rhetoric sounds tired, and they haven't had a new idea/phrase in 4 years.

Like all Republican 'epochs,' their attitude, once attaining power, is to stop attempting to persuade, while the left relentlessly ratchets up the rhetoric.

Let's hope Speaker Pelosi exposes herself as the incompetent ninny she is. Acting on a few bits of good advice will put the Dems right back into the game.

Posted by: Bruno at October 15, 2006 11:26 AM

I am inclined to believe that the GOP will retain both houses, but will not bet a dime on it.

When you say "It seems unlikely that you can really work up Democratic passions when the economy is booming", I am sort of reminded of something Condi Rice got very wrong early on. Namely, she assumed that people would see (correctly) that a "unipolar" world held many advantages, that people would see that their best economic interests were served by not trying to compete with or undermine the United States, and, in the Middle East, she (and many others) beleived that the future for Palestinian children would be better by accomodation with Israel, and when Palestinian parents saw this, they would respond accordingly.

What she did not account for (nor I, for that matter) is the number of people on this planet that would gladly hack the feet off their own children with a machete if they thought they could harm their real or perceived enemies by doing so.

Counting on genuine rationality from the human race can prove all too often a losing bet.

Posted by: Andrew X at October 15, 2006 11:34 AM

Want a prediction OJ...

Dems win both House and Senate.

Numerous Hearings/Investigations find one or more "Crimes" committed by the Adminstration, easily done up by a network of laws so convoluted that all of us are crimials in one way or another.

The frenzy, ginned up by a 5th column media, allows laws to be passed softly censoring conservative blogs, while talk radio is silenced by courts ruling that conservative talk shows constitute "undisclosed" campaign donations in excess of arbitrarilly imposed limits. (See Washington State)

Goregle/YouTube don't "censor" the right, but merely make their posts and video's impossible to find or view, while MooreOn.org is flushed into every living room/computer through newly subsidized fiber.

Lack of any more terror attacks cause the dingbat soccer mom and her emasculated husband to return to 9/10/01 America, where the mass of Suburban sheep begin to yearn for a return to the path toward the "Comfy chair/Hospice State" of Europe while gladly passing more referenda funding the indoctrination of their kids.

Posted by: Bruno at October 15, 2006 12:04 PM

The economy is doing well, oil/gas prices are falling, the Dems are soft on defense, the Dems are soft on border security, the Dems have indicated that they will raise taxes once in office, the Dems are against SS reform, Iraq is bad but not a disaster, The Dem Senate Leader Reid is under scandal, The Dem senate candidates in WA, MO, TN, VA are falling apart, the GOP is looking at double digit wins in the CA and FL governor races, - these add up to a Dem blowout?

The story of this election will be either a) how the Dems took control despite a strong economy and no GOP scandal, b) how GOP turnout was reduced by the MSM/Dems constantly predicting doom and the NRO/Instapundit/Barnes GOP believing it, or c) how badly the polls were off as the GOP does much better than expected.

Posted by: AWW at October 15, 2006 12:06 PM


So you're sticking with your '00, '02, '04 call?

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2006 12:48 PM

Dang, Bruno, as much contempt as you show for the American people, why aren't you a Democrat? Or a Libertarian?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at October 15, 2006 1:18 PM

There are two types of pessimists: ones like me who expect the worst, and make plans accordingly, and are pleasantly surprised when things work out better (as they usually do and usually should.) To use another of the local naughty words, it's a form of being realistic.

The other types are the ones who seem happiest when expecting the worst, and seem to dread the very thought that they could be wrong, and seem to hope and pray and work hard to make sure their expectations are met. They want their fantasies to come true, because they don't want anyone to be any happier than they are.

The Stupid Party seems to always be dominated by the latter (when they aren't panicked by the Harriet Miers screechers.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 15, 2006 2:16 PM

I still think the evil genius has something up his sleeve that will delight us just in time for the election. As we (and Condi) have seen, doing everything right, saving the planet, bringing peace and prosperity to all doesn't mean a thing.

Bruno, what new ideas should Bush have? His own party is trying to cut him off at the knees and distance themselves from him. Yet, inexplicably he soldiers on when other lesser men would have collapsed under the relentless barrage spewing forth hate and invective 24/7.

Yet, with all of it, I think the polls and pols will have been proved wrong again, and in the privacy of the voting booth, more of us will do the right thing.

Posted by: erp at October 15, 2006 2:44 PM

I refuse to vote for President Pelosi - which Thomas Sowell pointed out could happen if she becomes Speaker and both houses go dem.

The pubbies are tired cos they're not letting they refuse to let the younger ones make their mark and prepare for the future.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 15, 2006 4:22 PM


I called 00 thru 04 the same way you did (partially due to your stellar blog.)


I show contempt for the ideology (standard euro-style welfare statism) of about 35-40% of the people, and while speaking to them, do what I can to persuade them otherwise.

I admit to a bit of contempt for people who slavishly support the "myth" of their "local school" and also a bit of contempt for people who complain about how things are, but won't lift a finger to change things for the better.

Other than that, I have no contempt for a very large majority of the American people.


Though you may have had me in mind in describing the latter, I can assure you I am the former. I'm just cranky today.


I don't have a quick answer to your question. The rigor mortis that seems to set in 6 years in to a presidency must be a sociological phenomenon of some sort.

Let's look at what the Dems are offering. Let's look at what the Republicans (flacid as they are) offer. Even under the circumstances, this election shouldn't even be in doubt, yet it is. I see this as proof that something is very wrong somewhere.

I think Sandy nailed part of the issue.

Posted by: Bruno at October 15, 2006 4:40 PM

For the contest I'd suggest predicting final numbers for House, Senate, and governorships. Detail would count as Dems +2 in Senate could come a bunch of ways. OJ has plenty of books so rewards shouldn't be a problem

Posted by: AWW at October 16, 2006 6:52 AM

Sandy, what younger ones to you mean? It seems to me that the younger (newer) Republican senators went with McCain, not Bush and house members tremble with every lurid anti-Bush headline.

I think a lot of the problem is career Republican pols liked it a lot better when they were in the minority and the could "go along to get along" -- having the perks of office and not required to do any heavy lifting like supporting the Bush Doctrine. They are even more despicable than the Koolaid drinkers who make no bones about wanting to destroy our country as we know it.

Posted by: erp at October 16, 2006 10:34 AM


To me, "younger ones" means Paul Ryan of WI, Mike Pence of IN, Shaddeg, etc.

You know, the ones with brains, and the willingness to use them.

Posted by: Bruno at October 16, 2006 11:31 AM

Bruno, then what's stopping them from showing what they're made of?

Posted by: erp at October 16, 2006 6:42 PM