osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

We're Back, and Random Reflections On Last Week

We're back from the beach. I'm trying to get a handle on things. Last week was a busy week on a lot of fronts. But a few items caught my eye.

Is the U.S. economy in trouble?. Hale Stewart points up some warning flags that the recovery is slowing.

Results from Tuesday's primaries and special election. The Dems won in PA with Critz, they lost in HI against Djou. The special elections bear out my previous observations from last November. Races are not going national this year. It is all about local races, local issues, and who turns out the vote. Neither national party likes this outcome too much, from what I can tell, for a variety of reasons. It leaves much to chance, mutes the power of national messaging, requires more expensive, targeted, ad buys, and puts power in the hands of local organizers who can turn out local voters.

A narrative for this upcoming election stubbornly refuses to materialize. There are two models from recent history: 1994 and 2002. Everyone has been telling the 1994 story for months. But the factors that made 1994 an utter surprise win year for Rs are lacking. They have no platform. The Dems are not bogged down with scandal (any more so than the Rs). Dems have not been in power 50 years. Demographic trends that favored Rs in 1994 have reversed and the demographic trends -- to the extent they matter here -- continue to favor Ds.

At the same time, this doesn't feel like 2002. For those with short political memories, 2002 looked like a strong year for Ds. Even into August, Ds expected to expand their 1 seat majority in the Senate and retake the House. Instead, Ds lost ground, making 2002 one of the few years in which the President's party gained seats in an off-year election.

But the factors that made 2002 good for Rs are not present for the Ds. There, the Ds were fragmented and in panic at looking "unpatriotic." The result was that Ds "ran to the right," suppressing enthusiasm among their base, while Rs ran a superlative "get out the vote" campaign. The Rs are not going to "run left," and the D ability to "get out the vote" remains unclear.

Unlike the 2006 and 2008, when I could predict outcomes with reasonable confidence in May, the crystal ball here remains stubbornly cloudy. Not sure when it will clarify.

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