Are The House Democrats Already Doomed For 2014?
[Before we get started this evening, let me just mention that the last congressional race of 2012 was a run-off today in Louisiana's 3rd congressional district pitting two conservative Republicans, "Lord" Charles Boustany, the Establishment candidate, and teabagger Jeff Landry. Democrats were allowed to vote but both Republicans were so busy claiming that they were more right-wing than the other one, that I suspect most Democrats were turned off. Turnout was light. A.P. called the race pretty fast for Boustany, who is best known for having once bought a fake British title of nobility for himself in an online scam. With 100% of the precincts counted, Boustany's win was 58,726 (61%) to 37,688 (39%). I wonder if His Lordship gets anointed with Crisco. And will Landry try to challenge Mary Landrieu in the 2014 Senate race?]
Yesterday Chris Cillizza's column in the Washington Post was titled House Democrats face long odds in 2014 but rather than talking about the anti-heroic stand Obama and the dominant New Dems are taking in the Grand Bargain or about what a unmitigated disaster it was for Nancy Pelosi to appoint clueless loser Steve Israel to head the DCCC again, he happily pukes up another Beltway voodooism-- "the 6 year itch." Remember how Beltway pundits were crowing about how no president can ever be reelected if unemployment is above 8 percent? At least we'll never hear that one again. And that one makes relative sense compared to the 6 year itch.
Where I do agree with Cillizza is that the Democrats are unlikely to win back the House in 2014. But I reckoned that the moment I was told that Pelosi was reappointing Israel-- who still insists the DCCC was victorious last month and that he did exactly as well as Patty Murray did at the DSCC. That alone would disqualify him from consideration if Pelosi was still sentient.
Cillizza points out that Democrats won "slightly" more of the popular vote for Congress than Republicans did. Although the Democratic majority is still growing, the last I looked voters had given Democratic House candidates 59,247,617 votes and Republican House candidates 58,096,033 votes. We don't have to quibble over the meaning of the word "slightly" but 1,151,584 votes is more than that. What happened in past elections-- "the president’s party has rarely gained House seats in a midterm election"-- has a lot less meaning outside of the realm of Beltway conventional wisdom than the real problems the Democrats will face: Israel's willful incompetence and Obama's insistence that he's being forced to sell out to the Republican predators. No House Member who goes along with him will deserve reelection-- which will make the Democratic boycott of the 2010 Great Blue Dog Apocalypse look like the good old days for congressional Democrats.
The silliest part of Cillizza's silly post are his 10 most endangered incumbents list. Raul Ruiz doesn't belong on that list at all. He beat a popular longtime incumbent, Mary Bono Mack, 98,843 (52%) to 91,507 (48%) in a district that is dramatically turning bluer and bluer by the day. Cillizza, of course, goes right for the most hackish possible reason to predict a GOP victory: "in a midterm election... presumably, the district’s sizable Latino population will turn out in smaller numbers." In reality, a Republican should probably never in our lifetimes win in CA-36 again.
Cillizza called it right when he predicted that Republican Rodney Davis will have a hard time being reelected in 2014 but he somehow neglected to mention that the only reason he won last month is because a ConservaDem bit into Democrat David Gill's support, taking 21,319 votes, while Davis' margin of victory was a tiny 1,002. He's also correct in predicting that conservative corporate whores Ron Barber (D-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UR) will all have trouble in 2014. In fact all three won because of Libertarian candidates taking enough votes from their GOP opponents to let them slip into the winner's circle with under 50%.
Patrick Murphy's seat is his to win or lose depending if he reverts to being a Republican and alienates the Democrats who voted for him or if he decides to take a strong stand defending working families. Since he's already joined the New Dems, it's likely that he'll sell out at every opportunity and lose the seat. But when Cillizza mentions one of the reasons Murphy will have a tough time in 2014 is because it was "one of the most expensive and nastiest races of the cycle ." It was but that has no relevance whatsoever, unless Allen West runs again, which is unlikely. First of all, as far as the expensive part, West spent $17,836,728 and Murphy spent $4,312,665. No one will have that much money to spend against Murphy again. And the same goes for outside spending in the district. About $3.5 million went into bolstering Murphy and about $3.3 million went into bolstering West, a wash.
In the case of Dan Benishek, who managed to fend off DCCC pet Blue Dog Gary McDowell again, Cillizza claims the district was evenly split between Obama and McCain. Um... More to the point (much more), Obama beat McCain 49.7-48.4% but Romney beat Obama 53.6-45.3%.
When Cillizza predicts major gloom and doom for Joe Garcia he sites the dubious conventional nonsense about how Garcia only won because David Rivera is a crook and that the district is a Republican district. The district's demographics have changed considerably since the last time Cillizza bothered to check on the numbers there. In 2008, McCain managed to beat Obama 50.0 to 49.6% this time, Obama did significantly better, beating Romney 53.1-46.4%. Only in the world of Beltway pundits doe s that describe "a GOP-leaning district."
Where I have no quibbles with Cillizza are on his 2 most endangered seats. #2 is Blue Dog Mike McIntyre's. He won by 654 votes and next year the Republicans will make him their #1 target and find a solid candidate to beat him. In even worse shape is right-wing fanatic Gary Miller here in California who only won in a quirk of California's idiotic new primary system in which so many Democrats ran that the two top vote getters were Miller and another Republican which meant there was no Democrat in the general election-- and in a pretty safely Democratic district. In 2008 the district went to Obama 56-41% and this year Obama expanded his lead to beat Romney 57.2% to 40.6%. Miller is a corrupt shill for Big Business and he's an unhinged zealot. He'll lose in 2014, as long as the Democrats manage to get a candidate on the ballot this time. Of course, with Steve Israel running the DCCC again...