Politics

Can't you just taste the excitement with your uvula? Dems within striking distance, maybe, says CQ

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Congressional Quarterly says it's all down to 18 "tossups" in the House, and the Democrats have an unlikely chance of gaining control of the Senate:

Democrats are increasingly bullish on their chances to net the gain of at least 15 seats that they need to oust the GOP's J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois as the Speaker of the House and install Nancy Pelosi of California instead.

As of Oct. 27, CQ's individual assessments of all 435 House races showed Democrats seriously contesting Republican holds on 72 seats (31 percent of the party's current total) with seven of those races already leaning toward a Democratic takeover and 18 more considered genuine tossups — the result of a combination of Republican political weaknesses and the Emanuel team's success at growing the roster of competitive Democratic challengers, many in districts that the party had not contested in years. By contrast, only 21 Democratic seats were in play, and only a handful appeared seriously at risk. The bottom line is that the Republicans are now ahead at least marginally in only 207 races, meaning that even if they hold on to all of those (which won't happen) they must win 11 of the 18 tossups to retain power. The Democrats are now ahead in 210 races — nine more than the number of seats they have now — so if they hold all those leads they will need to win just eight of the tossups to gain control.

As they have throughout the campaign, the Democrats face their more daunting task in the Senate: They must gain a net of six seats to take control — an all-the-more-unlikely prospect just two years after they lost four seats. But their quest has now put them within striking distance.

With 10 days to go, four GOP incumbents are now underdogs for re-election: Conrad Burns of Montana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The Democratic bids in Missouri against Jim Talent and in Tennessee for the seat that Majority Leader Bill Frist is vacating are absolutely too close to call, while the party still has a clear shot at George Allen in Virginia. So if they win two out of three — and if they protect all their own seats, particularly that of New Jersey's Robert Menendez, who's also in a tossup — the Democrats should win the Senate.

Whole discussion here, with details on the close Senate races, the eight glorious mysteries of electioneering, and House details North, South, East, and West. Just to prove these guys don't really know anything you don't, there's also ominous talk of an October surprise (only hours left! Happy Halloween!), and a great prim reference to "Mark Foley's tawdry behavior toward congressional pages." But like most political prognostication, it's a vibrant species of on-the-one-hand-this-on-the-other-that.

Can the Dems still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? My ancient prophecy that the Republicans would retain both houses was based on the Democrats' proven ability to fuck up the proverbial one-man parade. And if this election is anything, it's a Monday morning walk of shame for President Bush. But I am impressed by how widespread the belief is that the Republicans are headed for a catastrophe. If nothing else, it will be nice to be proven wrong on this.

NEXT: Will God Smite John Derbyshire?

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  1. I looked up my district, the PA 10th, and it is listed as “no clear favorite.” There have been 3 or more polls in Sept and October that all show Carney (D) up about 10% over incumbent Sherwood (R) among likely voters. People on the ground here say that Sherwood is toast for sure. I guess that CQ is very conservative in even showing a lean in a race.

  2. From what I’ve read, polls tend to overcount Democratic support. In the broadest sense, they certainly show that there’s a chance that the Dems could take both houses, but I think trying to read more into them than that is unwise. Anyway, how is it that a horserace between Tweedledum and Tweedledummer elicits such interest on a libertarian site? We lose either way.

  3. Well, if the Dems take the House, then hopefully less spending will get done since the stupid crap Bush wants will be at odds with the stupid crap the House wants.

  4. Well, Fin, the likely outcome of a “deadlock” over whose stupid crap gets funded is that we get both the stupid Repub crap and the stupid Dem crap.

  5. The advantage only exists where adverse positions exist. Pet interests of no concern to the other side will still pass.

    More substantively, a true advantage to the Democrats taking one or both houses of Congress is that they may be more willing to debate, rather than getting things passed on the sly like the Republicans have done.

  6. The ideal would be for the Dems to take the Senate and not the House–keeps their fingers off the purse-strings but offers lots of opportunity for glorious gridlock (the only game left for libertarians to play).

  7. Well, if the Dems take the House, then hopefully less spending will get done since the stupid crap Bush wants will be at odds with the stupid crap the House wants.

    I agree that a degree of power would force the Dems to be something more than bombthrowers. And I also tend to think that a party division between Congress and the WH is more inline with the founders’ vision of checks and balances than one-party control.

    That might hold true as long as the GOP continues to hold the WH after 2008. I think an all Democratic government would probably be even worse for libertarians than all Republican government, and that’s saying something. Obviously, the partisan Democrats on this board will disagree with me, which is their right as god-fearing Amurricans.

  8. Crap. Living in South Carolina, I feel like I’m missing the fun & excitement of a close race. Then again, it’s just politics. The negative campaign ads I miss the most.

    The least I can hope for is that we set a precedent and overturn the idiotic marriage amendment.

  9. Say tim, can you write something without using the word “fuck”?

  10. What’s lost in most of this is how safe most of the districts are. Almost half of the Senate seats up for grabs are “safe” along with over 2/3 of the House. In actuality, it’s probably closer to 85% in the House. People wonder why there is such small turnout in mid-terms. But the reality is that districts have been so gerrymandered, there is very little at stake.

    Also disappointing to me is the sad sack LP. I’d guess that many folks are disgusted with both parties. Changing tweedledum for tweedledee is not going to solve any problems. It would be nice if we could at least register a protest vote by voting for an LP candidate. But as far as I can see, there are very few LP candidates for the House. How hard can it be to put up 468 candidates for both the House and Senate? I suppose I already know the answer, but it’s still disappointing.

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