28 March 2010

No need to fear November

It has become conventional wisdom to expect serious losses for the Democrats in this November's elections, but I'm not worried. While the Democrats will very likely lose a few seats -- that almost always happens to the party in power in midterm elections -- there are important factors working in our favor.

(1) HCR is a plus, not a minus. Polls already show a modest bounce in its approval rating since it was passed. Many who opposed it did so because they felt it didn't go far enough, not because it went too far. Many who oppose the package actually like the individual programs that make it up -- they object to the bill because they are misinformed about what's in it. And some of its provisions will take effect before the election. Voters will then be judging the reform by what they see it actually doing, not by horror-fantasies about death panels and Communism.

(2) The biggest factor influencing the vote will be employment. The job-loss data don't lie -- losses have decreased almost every month since Obama took office. Recent economic growth has been stronger than expected, and although employment is always one of the last indicators to recover after the end of a recession, it will do so. The hopeful-sounding predictions by the administration's enemies that the economy will slide back into recession have the air of an increasingly-desperate clutching at straws. They will come up empty. And Congress has plenty of options for acting to stimulate job growth.

(3) With enemies like these, who needs friends? The Republicans' relentless obstructionism on HCR and their bitter-end negativity may be energizing to the worst of their base, but they can't be appealing to the broad center, which is where elections are won. And Republicans' failure to condemn or even quite acknowledge last week's rash of violence and threats against Democrats is even uglier. Intemperate statements now will turn up in campaign ads later. And don't forget the NY-23 syndrome -- hard-line rightists undermining more electable moderate Republicans. An example is teabagger JD Hayworth's primary challenge to John McCain in Arizona, which has pushed McCain into a series of increasingly extremist statements in an effort to out-loony Hayworth for the sake of base primary voters. Either Hayworth will win the primary and (probably) lose the general, or McCain will prevail, but as damaged goods in the eyes of centrist voters and still viewed with suspicion by the base.

(4) A President should be a strong leader. During 2009 Obama's fixation on bipartisanship, futile in the face of the Republicans' intransigence, made him look weak, dithering, and unable to get things done. Since January he seems to have realized that such efforts were pointless, and the change has affected his image as well as the actual results achieved: Working with Congress to get HCR through despite the lack of Republican support, and using recess appointments to fill essential posts despite Republican obstruction, not only is strong and effective leadership, it also looks like strong and effective leadership. There will be more, and it will all help in November.

It's always possible, of course, that some unexpected major event could happen and change everything. But barring that (and such an event might be one that favors rather than harms our side), I don't think November's going to be all that bad.

Update (29 March): Arthur Greene has more detail on why HCR will probably help the Democrats in November -- benefits for critical groups like the elderly and the middle class will already have taken effect. Greene is a conservative and writes from an anti-HCR viewpoint, but his points on this are solid. Blogger DemWit also e-mails:

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, otherwise known as CLASS Act, provides for a national insurance program to help cover the cost of long-term care -- something 70 percent of people over 65 will need at some point along the way. The premiums will be much lower than those for private plans, and you won't get screened out because you've already had some health problems.

Class act indeed. So much for the death panels.


Blogger Sue said...

I agree completely! I believe Democrats will do very well in November and for decades to come! :-)

28 March, 2010 07:28  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

One thing for sure, all the Teabagger types will be voting, come rain or shine, they will be at the polls. If the Dems. can do a bit of galvanizing in late October, I agree with you, might not be as bad as predicted.

28 March, 2010 08:37  
Blogger tnlib said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 March, 2010 09:20  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

I don't think November will be an all-out catastrophe for progressives and Dems. For one thing, the economy is still on the upswing, although slowly. For another, I believe President Obama's approval rating will be risingtoo, after passing health care and securing a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. But most importantly, it was the Republicans who destroyed our economy and they have produced absolutely nothing of benefit or substance - not one thing - since Obama took office. Saying no to everything and needlessly holding up a great many appointments is hardly a record which inspires confidence.


28 March, 2010 09:33  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sue: I actually wouldn't be too surprised if we even gain seats, the way the Republicans are going.

HE: One thing for sure, all the Teabagger types will be voting, come rain or shine, they will be at the polls.

You may be right, but I'm not so sure. A lot of them are getting disillusioned with the Republicans too. If they turn out but vote for nutty third candidates instead of Republicans -- or if they pull the Republicans nutward in hopes of capturing their votes -- they'll actually hurt the Republicans.

TNLib: That's where we come in. When October rolls around, bloggers need to be reminding everyone how a victory as sure as Massachusetts was lost due to low turn-out in Democratic-leaning areas. Remind them that we can't afford complacency.

28 March, 2010 09:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JJ: Quite true. The Democrats can run against the Republicans' record as well as on their own.

28 March, 2010 09:38  
Blogger tnlib said...

Deleted my garbled message which should have read:

I agree with you but I still worry about complacency - as JJ says. But I'm feeling pretty hopeful. Conservatism is one thing, extremism another and I think most Americans are very uncomfortable with the latter.

28 March, 2010 14:16  
Blogger MadMike said...

There are many who fault the president for not acting on their favorite issue, or for not acting enough, or for not holding out for this and that. Bottom line: he is one cagey dude, and on top of that he is smart. I am convinced that he has worked the system so that the next 7 years are locked in place and that success for liberal programs will be locked right in with them. Great post!!

28 March, 2010 17:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mike: Personally I have not faulted Obama for things he has not done, but for things he has done -- inviting Rick Warren to the inaugural, wasting valuable time on futile efforts at bipartisanship, etc. He's clearly a very intelligent person, but I think the problems in his first year in office were linked to his inexperience. I do think his recent actions show that he's learned, and will be much more effective in the rest of his term.

29 March, 2010 04:06  

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