Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Election Aftermath

So what's next for the Republicans?

The House

1. The Dems took control of the House of Reps this time around, but keep in mind that every single representative is up for election in 2008. One effect of the '06 elections is that Republicans now have to fight incumbent Democrats, and incumbents generally have an advantage. But on the other hand, part of the reason Dems were successful this last time around is that they had the luxury of keeping quiet about their own plans and policies, and merely attacking the Republicans. They lose that advantage in '08, because they will have track records, and votes they will have to defend (assuming their Republican challengers take advantage of the situation). Because every single Dem gain has to be defended two years from now, it is entirely possible that the Repubs can recover their losses then.

2. George W. Bush, like it or not, has serious negative political baggage. Some of the most successful Dems were able to link their opponents to Bush, and thus associate them with his negatives, even where such an association is unwarranted (such as immigration or the Iraq war). Obviously in 2008, all those negatives go away. Giuliani, Romney, McCain, or any other presidential hopeful can easily avoid the Bush effect, and yet retain credibility among the security voters, by claiming that Iraq was a good idea, but improperly executed. Whether true or not, it gives the presidential hopeful the positives of Bush's foreign policy without any of the negatives.

3. The single greatest advantage the Republicans have ever had is that they are running against Democrats. If there is any group of people in this country more committed to over-reaching, it is the Democrats. The American people may not have thought through the consequences of voting Dem (or, rather, refusing to vote for scandal-plagued Republicans), but they will be reminded of those consequences every time Nancy Pelosi opens her mouth. That's something to think about. Granted, the Dems might learn the lesson that it's better to keep silent and be thought a communist and terror sympathizer than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt -- but somehow I don't think that's gonna happen.

The Senate

Unlike the House, those who won Senate seats this time are safe for six more years. That means New Jersey is stuck with Menendez, Maryland is stuck with Cardin, and Missouri is stuck with McCaskill until 2012 at the earliest (shudder). With only so many seats in play in '08, the possibility of a Republican take-over is diminished. The good news is that the Dems only barely edged the Republicans, so we only need two pick-ups to gain control. Let's look at the board:

1. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
2. Wayne Allard (R - CO)
3. Max Baucus (D - MT)
4. Joe Biden (D - DE)
5. Saxby Chambliss (R - GA)
6. Thad Cochran (R - MS)
7. Norm Coleman (R - MN)
8. Susan Collins (R - ME)
9. John Cornyn (R - TX)
10. Larry Craig (R - ID)
11. Elizabeth Dole (R - NC)
12. Pete Domenici (R - NM)
13. Dick Durbin (D - IL)
14. Mike Enzi (R - WY)
15. Lindsey Graham (R - SC)
16. Chuck Hagel (R - NE)
17. Tom Harkin (D - IA)
18. James Inhofe (R - OK)
19. Tim Johnson (D - SD)
20. John Kerry (D - MA)
21. Mary Landrieu (D - LA)
22. Frank Lautenberg (D - NJ)
23. Carl Levin (D - MI)
24. Mitch McConnel (R - KY)
25. Mark Pryor (D - AR)
26. Jack Reed (D - RI)
27. Pat Roberts (R - KS)
28. John Rockefeller (D - WV)
29. Jeff Sessions (R - AL)
30. Gordon Smith (R - OR)
31. Ted Stevens (R - AK)
32. John Sununu (R - NH)
33. John Warner (R - VA)

Of those 33 races, only 12 are Democrat seats, and 21 are Republican seats. Just as a question of mathematics, Republicans have a lot more to defend this time around than the Dems. We'll have to spend much more just to avoid a loss, let alone pick up seats.

The good news is that a good number of the Dem Senators have been featured prominently in the news, in a manner that will make it fairly easy to tar them as terrorist-appeasers (e.g. Carl Levin). John Kerry now carries the stigma of a loser in a national contest, and before you argue that he's completely safe as a Dem in Massachusetts, keep in mind that Ted Kennedy just barely beat Mitt Romney in that state six years ago. And Mary Landrieu, who beat Susan Terrel by a small margin last time around, can be attacked for her gross incompetence in the wake of the Katrina disaster (and Landrieu's best defense -- pointing at President Bush -- will be moot, because Bush will be gone).

Predictions are impossible at this point, but I'd say a Republican pick-up, while possible, is not very likely, and we will be lucky just to avoid losing another seat or two.

This is Kind of Cool: I just got a hit for this post from the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms. Welcome, U.S. Senate! (Except for Ted Kennedy, who is an insufferable douchebag. Yes, I'm talking to you).