Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Don't count your chickens before they've hatched

Just about everybody talking about the upcoming election has been talking about how doomed the Republicans are, but I'll still go on record saying I think the result I'd be least surprised by would be for party control of neither the House nor the Senate to change. The big plus in the Democrats' direction, of course, is that the idea that the Republicans running the country have been doing a lousy job has finally expanded beyond the liberal base and has taken hold in the country's political center, and even with a lot of Republican voters. So there's a lot of anti-Republican sentiment, and indeed, when asked in a "generic poll" of which side a respondent favors, voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

But there's still a lot of obstacles the Democrats will have to surmount if they want to retake Congress:
1. People may not like Congress in general, but there's a good chance that they favor their own specific Congressman. They're the ones who voted him in in the first place, he shares their interests and gives them pork projects, etc.
2. Not only that, but, as I've said before, gerrymandering gives incumbents an even bigger inherent advantage.
3. While sentiment may be running particularly low on Republicans these days, the Dems haven't exactly rallied around many positive concepts that could define them beyond "not Republicans."
4. Gas prices have been dropping. This is kind of like the difference between somebody jabbing you with a pointy stick a lot and jabbing you with a pointy stick a little less often, but it at least makes people somewhat less dissatisfied about things.
5. Some candidates elected as Democrats might switch sides and become Republicans.

Basically, I think control of both houses of Congress are pretty much up for grabs. I wouldn't be terribly surprised either way, though I'd certainly be happy if the Democrats can pull through with a win, providing a necessary check on Bush's bad ideas for the last two years of his Presidency.

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