Will The 2010 Midterms Become A Squandered Opportunity?

Because of the considerable amount of economic data that is coming to voter’s attention now it is reasonable to expect that politicians will exacerbate attempts to manage the interpretation of this information. Managing expectations is the necessary task of all politicians. The more cynical political practitioners would claim that managing expectations is the very DNA of political survival.

With that in mind it is a wonder how the Trilateral Commissariat of Obama/Pelosi/Reid intend to manage voter expectations as unemployment worsens and the economy continues to shrink. There are no discernable indications that unemployment growth will change in the next year. In other words, job losses will continue. There are also no indications that the economy, which is driven by consumer consumption (70%), will recover. Recent GDP data that showed a slow down in the rate of GDP decline was greeted by a hallelujah chorus in the Washington/New York press corps. Smart people know better.

The biggest political conundrum today is whether the Democratic Party can ride out the current downturn and retain majorities in the House and Senate. (DJ has some related thoughts below) Some say RNC Chairman Michael Steele has found his voice. Color me unconvinced. Economic realities and political circumstances have presented Republicans with the biggest political target in decades but it remains to be seen if the opposition party can even field a competitive response in 2010.

During the run up to the 1994 midterms there were several galvanizing issues that brought together a voter revolt against fifty years of Democratic majorities. Among them were the House check kiting scandal, the HillaryCare failure, a disconnected and ineffective House leadership (Rostenkowski and Foley) and an organized Republican opposition led by Newt Gingrich.

Republican incumbents paid dearly in 2006 for abandoning core principles on fiscal responsibility. While the unanimous House opposition to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid stimulus bill was a good start, it’s hard to win with just a good defense. Somewhere out of the Independent/Republican/Blue Dog Democrat/Tea Party mix must emerge a fiscal and social conservative that can bring together a majority. Not since 1979 has an economic scenario and flawed incumbent policy so favored a Party out of power.

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A Clear Sign, But What Does It Say?
  • jim

    Republicans for the most part haven’t figured out that they are part of he problem too with their out of control spending and love for big government.

    Until the GOP gets back on board with the idea that people taking responsibility for themselves are the solution and not more government programs they will remain in electoral limbo.

    Right now I see only small movement toward the GOP and only in marginal districts where ‘conservative’ Dems have made themselves vulnerable by voting party line.

  • Michael

    Instead of being predictably pessimistic…why not wait and see and keep your negativity to yourself.

  • jim

    I live in Illinois. The leading GOP candidate to run for Roland Burris’ Senate seat is Mark Kirk. One of the 8 GOP stooges to vote for Cap and Trade.

    Where exactly in that do you find anything akin to hope for a conservative comeback? When I see GOP putting all their hopes in a candidate whose politics are a hairs breadth away from the Dem platform I see someone who I don’t really care to support.

    When we did have a GOP Senator who really did have conservative principals the party refused to support him and he declined to run for re-election. That failure is why we got Obama in the Senate and now the White House.

    Maybe it’s different in the rest of the country, but it’s more of the same right here.

  • I live in Kirk’s district too, and I plan to vote for whoever runs against him for Obama’s Senate seat.

    He not only crossed the aisle to vote for Cap and Trade, but he was also one of the crossover votes to cut and run in Iraq a couple of years ago, out of a “crisis of conscience”. Once he got an earful from his Congressional district, he had another one.

    I agree he’s part of the problem and will not support him for any reason. That leaves me with my own crisis of conscience. But I will not support him. I plan to seek out whoever runs against him and work to see Kirk defeated. I just hope I have somebody worthy running against him.

    I have read a portion of the Cap and Trade bill, and it’s an eye-opener. Just read the preamble which describes the purpose of the bill. I swear it was written by the Sierra Club.

    Every canard about Anthropogenic Global Warming is there in black and white. You might well read it, or at least until your heads explode. I figure that should only take about two pages for projectile vomiting to set in.

    It will only take you about two minutes to find it in the Thomas Register. You’ll be paying for it for the rest of your life, so go see what you bought. And Kirk is one of the political slimeballs who got it passed in the House.

  • VL

    Really good blog. I think Conservatives know what they want. Now, let’s see if the Republicans can figure out something.

  • Les Nessman

    bob, jim

    I don’t blame you for not supporting Kirk. My only suggestion: if you are dead sure you will not vote for Kirk, be sure you let the local and state GOP organization know why beforehand.

    As to the subject of the post, I think it is 50-50 at best.

  • RicardoVerde

    Being repetitively redundant and such:
    I have said that it will depend on which way the arrow is pointed when it comes time for the 2010 show. Even if things are pretty bad, BUT voters think things are improving, then Democrats will prevail. It’s said that folks vote their pocketbook, but I would change that to people vote the PERCEPTION of their pocketbook moreso than reality. Making sure that the voters know their real position is very important. The statists (I’m on the bandwagon too) will certainly bring MSNBCCBSABCetc. to bear to let you know getting $50 worth of blue pills for free is certainly worth an extra two or three hundred a month donchaknow.

  • vech

    2010 may not be as bad as people think. Many Dems got in because of Obama and he’s not running in 2010. Most people seem to be very dissatisfied with what they see and will express that view in the voting booth. If most people are not dissatisfied, we’re screwed far beyond this election. It’s unfortunate, but most people like free stuff and Obama and his cohorts are giving it to them.

  • “Economic realities and political circumstances have presented Republicans with the biggest political target in decades but it remains to be seen if the opposition party can even field a competitive response in 2010.” I think it’s really important to focus on the House and, there, the big thing is local races, naturally. That means that state GOPs need to be the ones going after their local Dems – they can do it quicker and better than the nationals anyway. Hell, the national party pretty much lost us a seat in NY with their heavy-handed, out of touch tactics.

    (of course we don’t HAVE a state party here, but that’s neither here nor there for the rest of you)

  • SER

    Personally, I am bitter about the last few years of GOP management (I do cling to my religion, but I don’t own a gun). I would like the conservative candidates to go out and say “I support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I don’t see any Democrats doing this, since they can’t say the word “life” in a speech. I feel like all of the Repub politicians feel like their Demo counterparts that they have to try and “provide happiness” through government. It doesn’t work and it makes us all unhappy.

  • Out come the goodies for votes programs. Unemployment will get extended. Obama, ever the patriotic supporter of our troops, now wants an additional $78 for a new GI Bill, including 4 years of tuition and 4 years of living expenses. Before he’s done, he’ll be handing out wine and cigarettes to the homeless like they did during the Milwaukee elections. A second stimulus bill with goodies for all from the Washington Pinata, just in time for the mid-term elections. Just so you forget the first stimulus bill, nationalization of the auto industry, the banking industry, the Cap and Trade Bill, ObamaCare and $10 Trillion in national debt.

  • Texan99

    For me the only slogan that really works is, “When in doubt, government butt out.” I’m disturbed by the trend I see on fairly neutral comments boards, like the one in my local newspaper, because the revulsion against Democrats is almost matched by the revulsion against Republicans. Too many people are fantasizing that there will be a third-party candidate for whom we can vote without completely wasting our time. Others won’t vote at all, because of a settled cynicism. People who can see that the Democrats are full of it nevertheless suspect Republicans of wanting to set up shop as the Church Lady. I’m very conservative socially and religiously myself, but I know we can’t run candidates who think they can force others to agree with those principles. What they can do is get the government to quit bailing out people whose social and religious principles are leading them to ruin their own lives.

    Free markets, commercially and philosophically — and no public dole for anyone who’s not truly disabled.

  • JLawson

    One of the big problems with any elected politician is that they have to be visibly ‘doing something’ to get re-elected.

    And frankly, there’s just not that much left that needs doing. Look at the Fannie-Freddie problems w/the ‘subprime’ loans – WHY were the subprime loans created?

    So a politician would look good to his ‘poor’ constituents. They were buying votes, plain and simple. (I’ll give them 10% for ‘trying to do something helpful’ – but damn – stop trying to be so helpful, because you keep screwing things up!)

  • bryanD

    Note: Successful former Republican governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating, will run for governor again in 2010, making him the instant favorite in the race in this conservative state.
    His platform will consist of vocal denunciations of the Bush administration and its “nationalization” of the banking industry and its “wrecking” of the economy.

    He was rehearsing it all on KFAQ radio this morning. The host-drone tried to steer the conversation back to safer political zones like “crime” and “taxes”, to mixed effect.

  • MPR

    I wish we had a Republican in my state that even stood the slightest chance of winning either Senate seat. I share the frustration with RINOs but, where we are now if we can get even the slightest majority it would make a huge difference. With the majority, Republicans would get the Senate and House leadership and the chairmanships of all the committees. This is where the power is in the Congress. The Speaker of the House(Pelosi) has tremendous power to stop any legislation she doesn’t want. The Senate majority can do the same. The chairmanships can quash the minority’s bills in committee. Look up the chairmanships in congress now and it is an absolute rogues gallery of the most partisan liberals in recent history. If we have any chance of stopping Obamalala’s anti-American, socialistic agenda we need the majority in either house of congress. Just don’t stay home on election day.

  • SCSIwuzzy

    BryanD, as usual, is ignorant of the facts or repainting them to fit his addled agenda…
    Of 24 men to hold the office of Governor of OK, only 3 have been republicans. The governor before and after Keating are democrats.
    Of the 17 men to represent OK in the senate, 8 have been Reps (with one Dem being elected to both senate seats).

    There are more registered Dems in OK than any other party… though OK dems might be rabid conservatives in most blue states.

  • James H

    I don’t expect substantial GOP gains for a while. The last century or so of American politics make me think that sea changes are generational, with a single charismatic leader bringing one party to a political dominance that lasts, for a generation, then continues with next-generation children of the revolution who manage to muck it up.

    I’m thinking in particular of FDR and the New Deal, succeeded by the Reagen revolution, and now succeeded in turn by Obama.

    It’s entirely possible for the GOP to make political gains in the upcoming political cycle or two, but I don’t expect a sea change to GOP politics for another generation or so. The charismatic leader just isn’t there.

  • SER

    James H,

    You may be right, but I’m not seeing President Obama as a “leader.” I don’t see a “sea change” with him. Has he done anything that is “transformational” from what Democrats / liberals have desired from 1968 until now? Granted, he ran as a “post partisan” candidate, but when he tells other elected officials that he doesn’t care about their opinions, because “he won.” He is not “post partisan.” How are President Obama’s positions any different from George McGovern’s? or Jimmy Carter’s? Walter Mondale? Michael Dukakis? Bill Clinton (before the 1994 smackdown)? I am not seeing it. Please explain.

  • James H

    When considering transformational leaders in US politics, I think it’s important to look not just to their politics, but also to their personalities and personal charisma. Which is why I tend to point to Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and Reagan. Both of them brought the sort of outsized personality and charisma required to energize voters and command respect in Washington.

    Obama definitely has that charisma. I would say, though, that we’ve yet to see whether he can use it effectively.

  • SER

    James H,

    So if I may paraphrase, “Style over substance.” It doesn’t matter what a President believes or does, it just matters that he is charismatic. I hope you are wrong, because charismatic leaders have done a lot of damage throughout the history of the world and I prefer to live among a free people than among a group led by a “charismatic leader.”

  • James H

    SER:

    I would say that the style and the substance both matter, as do timing. I mean, there’s a reason we remember Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, but don’t recount the presidential achievements of John Tyler or James Monroe.

  • SER

    James H,

    That’s my concern about President Obama. I believe (to paraphase Gertrude Stein) “there’s no there, there.” He does not appear to be a person of substance – his ideas seem to be re-treads of Sixties philosophies. Besides, I like the Monroe Doctrine and partial to John Tyler (since I am a Texan).

  • James H

    Well, yes, we learn a bit about the Monroe Doctrine. And those who are students of history might be surprised to learn the John Tyler effectively established that a vice president becomes president — not “acting president” or “temporary president” — when an incumbent chief executive passes away.

    But they don’t hold as much talismanic power as other presidents’ names, do they?

  • bryanD

    SCSIwuzzy, nice wiki familiarization. While your facts are correct, your conclusion is flawed and your understanding is wuzzy– I mean, fuzzy, as usual.

    Every county in Oklahoma “went” McCain/Palin in 2008.

    77-0.

    That makes my comments cogent and notable and your comments goofy and irrelevant. Get of the computer. It’s nice outside.

  • Larry Dickman

    Repubs tried to pretend that the economy was FINE in the last election . . . in hopes of winning the election. America wasn’t that stupid. Now you are hoping the economy stays in the tank to win the next election. Read and weep:

    http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/03/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?postversion=2009080315

    You obviously can’t forecast, and you’re incapable of learning from the past.

    If you don’t want to become a rural, Southern party, try identifying just one conservative principle, sticking with it, and actually living it. Don’t tell us you’re the family values party, show it. Don’t tell us your are fiscally conservative, show it.

    But instead, what are you doing? You’re already looking at data and trying to figure how to spin it for political gain.

    Good luck with that.

  • SCSIwuzzy

    Bryan, all that proves is that people in OK had the good sense to think Obama wasn’t ready to be President, not that they’ve suddenly become republicans.

  • Rob

    I wouldn’t get too excited, the numbers for Obama’s approval rating are not really what is relevant: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/most-important-number/the-most-important-number-in-p-24.html