Thursday, March 25, 2010

Got Em Right Where You Want Em, Do You?

It's become one of my personal political axioms that you can tell who won and who lost a political battle in America by the statements of the two sides. The people who lost are the ones who declare victory. The people who won are the ones who say "The battle still continues. Keep sending those contributions."

For example, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) is quoted as having said this today:

Dodd (D-CT) told reporters this morning that "The health care thing kind of changed the atmospherics around here."

"I think, frankly, there are a number of Republicans who went along with the strategy of 'just say no' who were never really happy with it, but if it worked they would go along," Dodd said. "They saw it fail. And now they've had enough of it. and they really want to be involved in crafting things."

Dodd: Republicans Are Getting Tired Of The 'Just Say No' Strategy

Yes, that strategy has worked out really well. Here's how the Congressional generic ballot has gone, according to Pollster:
Image credit: Screenshot of Pollster page by Cujo359

It's going really well, isn't it? The national generic congressional ballot is normally just slightly more meaningful than the number of living hair follicles on Chris Dodd's head for determining the outcome of an individual congressional race. As a statement of how the country feels about the job Congress is doing, though, it's a somewhat useful metric. It's also somewhat relevant for open Congressional seats (seats where the incumbent is not running), which is typically where most of the change in these elections happens.

Here's what the country thinks about how Congress is managing health care, courtesy of Talking Points Memo:
Image credit: Screenshot of Talking Points Memo page by Cujo359

Oh, yeah! That's what I'm talkin' about! High fives all around! Nothing like a minus eight rating on an issue of prime importance to boost those re-election chances, is there? But it gets even better, as Rasmussen reports:

Eighteen percent (18%) of voters now say Congress has passed legislation that will significantly improve life in America. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disagree. Twenty-five percent (25%) more are not sure.

On the eve of the House health care vote, just 40% said that Congress is at least somewhat likely to seriously address the most important issues facing the nation. Fifty-five percent (55%) said that was not likely to happen.

Seventy-six percent (76%) think most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than in helping people. Just 12% say most in Congress are more interested in helping people.

Congressional Performance: March 22, 2010

The overall disapproval rating of 64 percent is the second worst in three and a half years, surpassed only by last month's.

Gallup isn't quite so gloomy, but they now rate Democrats as only a slight favorite to hold onto the House. That could change, however, since Gallup isn't yet using likely voters as their polling group:

Historically, Gallup has found Republicans more likely than Democrats to vote in midterm elections, meaning their electoral strength is typically underestimated in survey results based on all registered voters. Gallup will institute its traditional "likely voter" model closer to Election Day (narrowing the sample of voters to the subset deemed most likely to vote). Until then, historical trends would indicate that the Democrats need to hold a better-than four percentage-point advantage among registered voters nationally in order to have a reasonable chance of leading among likely voters and, ultimately, in House seats.

Race for Control of Congress Remains Close

Translation: Expect things to get gloomier once our polls are more accurate. That article rates the Democrats as being ahead by three points.

Approval for health care reform got a slight bump thanks to Congress having finally passed it, but even this is not good news. Anyone who decides he likes this bill because it passed is an idiot. Next week, such people won't like it for some other reason. Skeptics aren't likely to be convinced by seeing benefits - none will kick in until 2011. Even forgetting my own abiding distaste for the bill, it's pretty clear that Democrats aren't going to get much benefit. On timing of benefits alone, they've screwed the pooch, at least for this election.

Meanwhile, the economy is about to get worse, thanks to the effects of the stimulus having about run their course, and there being no real recovery, and no new government programs, to replace it.

This will be a very tough year for Democrats. Considering that they're losing to these Republicans, they should be embarrassed. But embarrassment seldom plays well in politics, so what we see are statements like Dodd's.

Those of you who are on Republican mailing lists can expect another appeal for contributions real soon.

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