Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What Will Happen Today

In short, I have no idea.

All media accounts and polling suggest that the Democrats are going to get massacred today. That may well be.  One of the things that I pride myself, and this blog on, is that I don't make predictions.  No better way to look foolish that to make predictions about politics.  Rather, I try to rely on the fundamentals.  Given my training as a political scientist, there are certain fundamentals when it comes to congressional elections.  Namely:
  • Midterms are bad for the incumbent President's party.
  • Incumbent members of Congress are overwhelmingly re-elected
  • Turnout is lower in midterms and favors the out-party, which tends to be more energized
  • Minority party gains tend to be concentrated in open seat contests
Three of those four suggest Republican gains.  The wildcard is #2.  All indications--although largely anecdotal to this point--are that this is a bad, bad year for incumbents.  The comparison being most often made is to the 1994 Republican landslide.  In that election, 35 Democratic House incumbents lost.  If the Republicans repeat that performance--they need 39 House seats to gain the majority--they will have a big night, given that they are expected to win a slew of open seats in the south.

Beyond these, however, there is another "fundamental" that will probably play the greatest role tonight, although it won't get discussed nearly as much as it should: 10%.  The unemployment rate.  In all of the commentary on why Republicans will do well, few people--especially Republican flaks--will admit that in many ways their success will be due to factors completely beyond their control.  Sophisticated campaign operations, money, targeted GOTV, etc. are in the end ancillary.

I'll be blogging throughout the night as results come in. 

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