I'm not sure how you get the job as electoral prophet, but I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with ever being right. Charlie Cook is probably like Mel Kiper, a guy who built is name for predicting the NFL draft not because he had any record of ever being right on either guessing who will be good NFL players or who the teams would actually pick, but because he was the only one who first started obsessively writing about it. Why do I bring this up? Well because of course I made the mistake of reading Cook's latest column, where he decides more than a year in advance that the Democrats are in for a disaster. This is of course only two weeks after he wrote essentially the identical column.
As end of his genius analysis (in which he goes on and on about the a Republican pollster finding (surprise!) good things on the horizon for the Republicans), he states
Sure, November 2010 is a long way off, and the economy may well be substantially better by then. But Democratic lawmakers, who must face the voters two years before Obama does, should remember that the public's attitudes tend to eventually harden. Think cement.
I could go on and on about how stupid and wrong this is, since most people don't even follow politics in non-election years and don't make up their mind until the last couple months, but what's the point? He's not actually predicting. He's just writing for people who like to read predictions. To prove my point, I wasted some time on his previous articles:
The political environment is not good right now for Republicans. Recent polling shows low approval ratings for President Bush and Congress, as well as an increasingly pessimistic electorate.
So what might this mean for House candidates running in the 2006 midterm elections?
Probably not much.
- Democrats' '06 Fantasies Star Surprise Squeakers, March 12, 2005
How many times have we heard about the "perfect" challenger who can beat John Hostettler, R-Ind.; Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Dennis Moore, D-Kan., or Anne Northup, R-Ky. -- only to see these battle-tested incumbents go on to win again?
Democratic recruiters are understandably eager to expand the House's tiny playing field. But simply putting a district on a wish list doesn't automatically create a turnover -- as both parties certainly know by now.
Note: both Northup and Hostettler lost.
- The GOP's Many 'Micro' Advantages, March 25, 2006 (Note: this is even post-Katrina)
Structural barriers are protecting the GOP's majorities like seawalls, and would likely withstand the surge from a Category 1, 2, or 3 storm.
Despite national political trends indicating that the GOP is in serious trouble, a race-by-race "micro" analysis suggests that Democrats cannot easily seize control of the House or the Senate this fall.
The Dems are going to lose seats in '10, but I think we can hold off the drama until we see the 3Q GDP and unemployment figures. Oh and a freakin' health care bill to see would be helpful to.