Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Congressional Race Handicapping-- Perhaps Blue Dogs Losses Are The Best We Can Hope For Next Year


Stoopidest congressional graphic du jour. Can you spot the GOP closet case?

Only 20% of Americans now self-identify as Republicans. And those who do, are split between delusional extremists (teabaggers) and the old fashioned mainstream conservatives. What's happening in NY-23, where a deadly fight between teabagger Doug Hoffman and mainstream conservative Dede Scozzafava, is virtually guaranteeing that a quasi-Democrat will win this seat next month. Ironically, by driving moderate Republicans-- like Bill Owens-- into the Democratic Party, the teabaggers will contribute to make the Democratic Party more conservative! Sorry for the (ugly) tangent. What I want to look at today are the prospects for Democrats in the midterm elections.

History says the president's party loses in the election two years after he's first voted in. 1934 was a spectacular exception, when obstructionist Republicans screaming "Socialist" at everything FDR tried to do to rescue the country from the mess Republicans had left it in. They were shocked to see themselves further marginalized as the electorate completely rejected them and their obstructionism. Unfortunately, Obama, as we've seen, is no FDR and his tepid and uncourageous politics don't seem to be inspiring anyone who bought into his Change or Hope messages. So... those of us dreaming of seeing the worst of the Republican hypocrites getting what's coming to them-- not likely, not next year.

The DCCC pointed out yesterday that 67 Republicans who voted against Obama's Stimulus Bill are running around trying to claim credit for... the Stimulus Bill. It includes all the trash Republicans that Texas sends to Washington but, alas, none of them are likely to lose their gerrymandered seats in 2010. Same for the atrocious batch of Know Nothings Florida is sending to Congress, from John Mica, Bill Posey, Ginny Brown-Waite (who many people consider the single stupidest person ever to take a seat in the House of Representatives), Cliff Stearns and the Diaz-Balart ganster brothers to Tom Rooney, Adam Putnam and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The only one we're not going to see in Congress again in 2011 is Putnam who's likely to move on to the stepping stone post of state Agriculture Commissioner, which also puts him, a dedicated anti-consumer fanatic, in charge of consumer affairs for the state.

Anyway, instead of pursuing the really bad bad guys, Democrats are hoping-- sadly-- to make up for expected losses by picking up a few open seats. Democrats look likely to capture blue-leaning seats in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Illinois, seats that all went for Obama and have entrenched Republican representatives-- respectively, Mike Castle, Jim Gerlach and Mark Kirk-- who are abandoning their seats to run for higher office. Democrats also have unlikely shots at taking redder districts being given up in Kansas and Florida. Fundraising for Democratic candidates in these districts is good.

Sounds like bad news? There's a bright side. Most, though not all, of the endangered Democrats are reactionary Blue Dogs. The loss of characters like Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith in Alabama, Glenn Nye in Virginia, Charlie Melancon in Louisiana (who is leaving his House seat to run for Senate and will probably be replaced by a Republican) Walt Minnick in Idaho and Frank Kratovil in Maryland-- all likely GOP pickups-- will be no loss to progressives. Democrats will still firmly control the House leadership and these half dozen anti-progressive voices inside the caucus inexorably pushing the Democrats further and further right and away from supporting working families, is a really good thing, despite the fact that in every case the Republican replacing them will be far worse.

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