Saturday, October 21, 2006

On Having Realistic Expectations

The current wave of dissatisfaction sweeping through the U.S. electorate, coupled with very favorable generic poll numbers for the Democrats, has given many of us the sense that a Democratic landslide is coming. While I think we will definitely make gains, I would simply caution my friends to not anticipate too much. The United States may be thought of as an enormous ship that's been traveling at high speed. It will take us time, perhaps two or three elections, to stop its rendezvous with the iceberg Bush has us heading toward and turn it around.

We need to be realistic.

Generic poll results do not always mean success in particular races, as we all know here on DKos. Anger at the Republicans does not always affect the Republican candidate in a given state or district, who may be well known and liked by the electorate there. We have to further temper our expectations by remembering that the GOP has about a two year jump on us in terms of microtargeting voters. Although we have made great strides in this respect, we are still behind the curve. The Republicans still have the monetary advantage, although we have closed the gap mightily. The right still has its noise machine going full blast. And the expectation that the hardcore Republican voters will not show up in the same numbers as previous years is simply not plausible. In short, although I think we will win the election, it will not come up to the more optimistic expectations of some of us.

In the Senate, I sense that Chafee is through and that Whitehouse will win. I think Casey will prevail over Santorum. We then have to look at probabilities. Of the set comprised of Brown (OH), Ford (TN), McCaskill (MO), Webb (VA)and Tester (MT), I see no more than 1 or 2 victories in that group, with Brown having the best shot. In NJ Menendez will survive; in MD Cardin will survive. In CT, I am not optimistic about Lamont. In short, I don't see a Democratic Senate, although our numbers will be around 48 or 49. This, hopefully, should make it harder for Bush to ram atrocious Supreme Court nominees through the Senate.

In the House, as the Foley scandal fades, local issues will reassert themselves. A Democratic landslide in NY with Hillary and Spitzer winning by gigantic margins may pull in two or three new Democrats with them. We may win 1 new seat in IN, one in IL (although I don't see it), and a scattering of other races in AZ and CA, among others. I see a Democratic gain of 10-12 seats, leaving the House 220-215 Republican. This may give us a shot at making temporary alliances on key issues with the dwindling number of GOP moderates in the House. It will be harder for the radical right to push us around in the House. But we will not control the agenda.

We will, obviously, gain the governorship of NY. We will elect Deval Patrick in MA and Ted Strickland in OH. We will probably win new Governor's chairs in CO and MD as well. Angelides will lose, perhaps more narrowly than we now think, a golden lost opportunity. Our candidates for Governor will do well overall, and we will retain OR, and MI. We will make important progress in the state legislative and executive races such as those for Secretary of State.

Yes, we need to keep working and contributing. But let's be honest with ourselves. It took a while to bring the U.S. to the edge of the disaster in which it finds itself. It will take the elections of 2006, 2008, and 2010 to reverse this disaster. We will ultimately prevail because we are right, we care intensely, and the truth is with us. All of the crimes and mistakes of the Republicans will catch up with them. But not all at once.

The searing disappointment and depression we suffered after November 2004 has made me cautious, I suppose. I also know the right still controls the electoral machinery in many areas and can suppress our vote in many ways. Life has taught me not to get my hopes up too high. We will have success, and we will eventually save our country.

But it will take time.

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