Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Democrats face midterm meltdown

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spea...Image via Wikipedia Laid out rather starkly, considering it's from the drive-by media, is this forrcast of the loss of both houses of congress this fall in record numbers, to what is described (accurately I think) as likely the most conservative republican congress in history.

Barack Obama’s Democratic party faces a series of dramatic defeats at every level of government in Washington and beyond in the November midterm elections, according to leading analysts and opinion polls.

The University of Virginia’s widely monitored Crystal Ball will on Wednesday forecast sweeping setbacks on Capitol Hill and the loss of a clutch of state governorships on November 2.

It follows a Gallup poll that showed the Republicans with a 10 percentage point lead over the Democrats – the widest margin in 68 years. Separately, a University of Buffalo paper has predicted a 51-seat gain for Republicans in November.

The Democrats have a 39-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Many believe Democratic control of the Senate is also at risk.

“Voters are going to deliver a big fat message to President Obama, which he will not want to hear,” said Larry Sabato, who runs Crystal Ball. “The Republican base is at least 50 degrees further to the right than where it was when Newt Gingrich took control of the House in 1994, so we would be looking at two years of absolutely nothing getting done on Capitol Hill.”

The numbers, which threaten Mr Obama with a “wave election” similar to those of 1994 and 2006, when Democrats wrested back control of the House after 12 years, also extend to key states.

According to local polls, Democrats are on course to lose the governorships of traditionally left-leaning states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania and may be vulnerable in Illinois, long a party bastion.

Such is the scale of the expected losses that analysts are already focused on how Mr Obama can turn Republican domination to his advantage in his 2012 re-election race.

Washington is awash with speculation on whether the Republicans will over-reach as Mr Gingrich did in 1995 when Bill Clinton won a stand-off that had resulted in the shutdown of government.

“The political environment for Democrats is now every bit as poisonous as it was for them in 1994 and for Republicans in 2006,” said Charlie Cook, the widely tracked electoral forecaster.

The expected groundswell is driven by the composition of voter turnout, which at about 40 per cent would be significantly lower than the 63 per cent that brought Mr Obama to power. According to polls, likely Republican voters are twice as motivated to vote as Democrats.

That “enthusiasm gap” was on display last weekend at the Tea Party movement’s rally in Washington.

Recent polls show that 61 per cent of Americans “always or usually” live from pay cheque to pay cheque, up from 49 per cent in 2008.
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