The government shutdown has been averted at the expense of, some conservatives argue, the leverage we earned last November. I don't know about that, but I do believe we
would have risked a powerful backlash had a compromise not been reached. While it is true that this is not 1995, I'm still persuaded that the mainstream media's spin would have
effectively pinned the fault of a government shutdown on the Republicans. So, in that sense, I'm not opposed to the deal - especially since the economic policy debate now centers
around how much we will cut, not how much more we'll spend. This is a small but important tipping point. And, to be sure, one that would never have been reached if control
of Congress still resided with the Democrats.
It speaks volumes about the Democrats' mindset that even with our government's endless and growing expanse of debt, Republicans had to haggle until the final hour and finally
compromise to avoid a government shutdown...just to cut 0.1% (that's one one-thousandth) of its insanely bloated budget.
Until now, I have been worried that the GOP may not realize the potential gains in Congress that appear to be there for the taking. Sure, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are disliked by the
voting public. Their approval ratings are dismal. But, then I look at the approval ratings of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Theirs are much worse. Polling
is all over the place. And sometimes I fear the Tea Party movement is overreaching (e.g.: Sharron Angle) and providing the liberal media with plentiful ammunition to paint the GOP as
way too radical for mainstream America.
Until now, that is.
I feel quite a bit differently today after stumbling across the most important and telling poll I've seen in this
cycle. The poll tests the 60 Democratic and 10 Republican House seats deemed to be the most vulnerable. The findings are nothing short of remarkable. From the
top line numbers to the in depth analysis, the survey reveals an overwhelming red wave barreling its way toward November 2nd.
I'm going to evaluate and respond to several aspects of the poll's results, but before that, I want to let the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner react to their own
work. (Actually, they collaborated with a Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, in conducting the poll.) Here's part of what GQR
had to say.
The results are a wake-up call for Democrats whose losses in the House could well exceed 30 seats. In the named-congressional ballot in the 60 Democratic districts, Democrats trail
their Republican opponent, 42 to 47 percent, with only a third saying they want to vote to re-elect their member. In the top tier of 30 most competitive seats, the Democratic
candidate trails by 9 points (39 to 48 percent) and by 2 points in the next tier of 30 seats (45 to 47 percent). On the other hand, the Republican candidates are running well ahead in
their most competitive seats (53 to 37 percent).
With an aggregate 9-point deficit, the Democrats will be hard-pressed not to lose 90% or more of their thirty most vulnerable seats. Among the second tier 30, a 2-point GOP lead
would translate to roughly 16 seats or so more. That's 27 and 16. Forty-three. On the Republican side, these numbers indicate that truly vulnerable GOP seats are
practically non-existent. Looking at individual Republican seats, however, it's clear that a couple are very likely to end up in the Democratic column after Election Day. So,
we'll subtract three from the takeover count. That leaves a 40-seat net gain for Republicans. It also adds up to a GOP majority, folks.
But there's more to be happy in this survey if you like red political maps. Again, from GQR's own analysis.
62 percent of Republicans in Democratic districts describe themselves as very enthusiastic about the upcoming election. That compares with 37 percent of Democrats in those same
This is more compelling evidence that polls measuring registered voters are missing the true picture - badly. A twenty-five point enthusiasm gap is monumental. It will prove to
be much too much for many a Democratic incumbent to overcome.
But the good news doesn't end there. Beyond an enthusiasm gap, these Democratic districts are witnessing a mass exodus from Democratic candidates. In 2008,
survey respondents in blue districts voted for the Democratic congressional candidate by double-digit margins in both Tier 1 (48-37%) and Tier 2 (50-35%) races. Computing the
difference between those numbers and the poll's findings for 2010, Republicans enjoy 20-point and 17-point improvements in Tier 1 and Tier 2 districts, respectively.
So what's driving this enthusiasm, and is it sustainable? According to Talking Points Memo's
analysis of the survey, unless Democrats change their narrative on the issues or succeed
in winning back voters to their way of thinking, these numbers are not likely to change in their favor. Republicans win hands down not just as un-Democrats, but as better alternatives on the issues.
The poll of 60 Dem-held districts and 10 GOP-held districts found voters across the board favoring Republican candidates on the generic ballot tests, as well as agreeing more with Republican
messages on the economy, health care and other issues.
These findings are remarkable not just for the rosy picture they paint for Republicans in November, but also in the depth of distaste voters have for the policies of the current administration
and its cohorts on Capitol Hill. With less than 5 month's to go until the first tangible referendum on Obama's presidency, signs point unmistakably to a fundamental and substantial shift
toward the GOP and more conservative policies. Job approval of sitting incumbents in these districts further illustrates that the mood out there is anti-Democrat, not so much
anti-incumbent. Those approving of their congressman's performance in Democrat-held districts are just 40% with 38% disapproving. In Republican-held areas, voter approval
of the incumbent is 22% greater than voter disapproval (54% to 32%). That hardly fits an anti-incumbent message.
Clearly, after experiencing the effects of complete Democratic control in Washington for the last 18 months, voters seem eager to give Republicans another chance in 2010.
I interviewed Renee Ellmers. She's the
GOP nominee running against Democrat Bob Etheridge in North Carolina's 2nd District. I'm a big fan of Ms. Ellmers and her stances on limited government and personal
responsibility. I'm rooting hard for her to defeat Mr. Etheridge and his lock step support of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate.
Apparently, though, it is more than his ideology that puts him at odds with me and most of his constituents. A video on YouTube reveals that he also harbors an elitest abrasive
streak. You really need to watch this clip of the congressman's interaction with students on a Washington DC
sidewalk. We can do better than that. We need to defeat Bob Etheridge.
David Hogberg, journalist at the online Investor's Business Daily, has written a good examination of
the current mood of the electorate 10 months away from November's midterm elections. While he was researching for the article, Hogberg asked me to chat with him about my
thoughts on the GOP brand and how it will impact probable GOP gains this year. I'm not going to spill the beans and tell you what I said - you'll just have to go read the article.
Democratic Congressman John Murtha has died from gall bladder surgery complications.
Regardless of the political idealogy of the man, tragedies like this are unwanted and sad. My heart and prayers go out this evening to his family and friends. May they be
comforted during this difficult time. An appropriate time will come to examine what his passing means for the balance of power in the House; now is not that time.
There's a famous scene in the first Crocodile Dundee movie where Dundee and his female companion are accosted by a knife-wielding mugger while walking alone at
night. The companion shrieks, "He's got a knife!" To which Dundee replies confidently, "That's not a knife!" and as he pulls out a mega blade from its
sheath by his side, he says proudly, "That's a knife!"
Now that President Obama's first deficit has been adjusted
even further up, echos of folks complaining about the
budget deficits during the Bush years ring in my mind. Sure, we ran up enormous, never-before-seen deficits during those years, and I won't even try
to justify them. Nevertheless, at $455 billion at their height, those deficits pale in comparison to the $1.6 TRILLION deficit we are projected to
swallow this fiscal year.
It is illustrative, I think, to restage that scene for this issue. In our little re-enactment, Obama plays the part of Dundee, Bush stands in as the thug (I
know my liberal readers will like that thought!), and we, the American People, are the female companion. There we are walking hand-in-hand with President
Obama, when out springs Bush brandishing his $455 billion deficit, "Eek! He's got a deficit!" we scream in dismay. But our strong and confident Obama retorts
eloquently, "That's not a deficit!" And unsheathing his own deficit - all $1.6 TRILLION of it - he smiles and says, "THAT'S A DEFICIT!"