Pondering November

There are a lot of forecasters saying the Republicans will take the house in November. In a word, no.

There are two things this group of forecasters are referencing as supporting their predictions. These are the dissatisfaction with Democrats and the relatively greater enthusiasm of the Republican likely voters. Both are discussed in comparison to 1994 and 2006. Both ignore a couple of things I think are critical.

The Democratic approval is, indeed, low. Approval levels are in the gutter. However, the Republican approval is in the sewer – and this matters. See, in 1994 and 2006 the “other party” had better approval numbers. For ‘the other guy’ to be acceptable he’s got to be seen as at least no worse than the one you’ve got.

The enthusiasm is a factor. There are two mitigating elements here, however. First, it’s too early to consider this factor. Enthusiasm waxes and wanes. It’s mid-July, four months from the elections. Let’s see what things look like at the end of August at the earliest, and late September more likely. The second mitigating element is that this is not really party but partisan enthusiasm – Tea Party partisan enthusiasm.

Look real hard at individual races and you can see this. You’ve got a lot of primaries still unresolved. In a very large number, the incumbent Republican is facing a very hard push from the right — from the Tea Party candidate. In a lot of these races, the winner is going to get lackluster support from the loser’s side.

I’ve discussed this before. You’re seeing a zealotry battle in progress. All the noise is the zealots fighting the non-zealots. The problem with zealots is there is no gray, no middle ground. If you are not wholly with them, you are against them. Or more accurately say if you are not wholly with them, they will refuse to accept you. The result of driving the weak and non-believers out of your temple is that even if they don’t join the other side, they’re not supporting you. Gideon’s principles only work on battlefields, not the ballot box.

One more thing that makes me doubt the Republican Wave is that it only seems to show up when Likely Voters are chosen. Likely Voter models are always suspect as you’re using demographics and past tendencies and maybe a bit of intuition to guess who will and will not go to the polls. Thing is, the LVs for the past year’s worth of special elections have been less accurate than the RV (Registered Voter) models. Though some have been worse than others, the LV models of all the pollsters seem to need some correction – they’ve been predicting greater R margins than have actually occurred.

I think the Democrats are going to lose some seats. They are not, however, likely to lose the house.


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