Election 2012 has been trending Democrat for months. It's not that long ago that the GOP and many others thought that Republicans could capture the Senate, given the number of vulnerable Democratic seats up for grabs and the power of incumbency for the seats they have to defend. President Obama's reelection seemed vulnerable with unemployment North of 8% and no one in their right mind argued that Nancy Pelosi was a favorite to reclaim the Speaker's gavel. Today, though, it seems at least 47% more likely that we will soon again hear the wondrous words "Madame Speaker" ring out in the People's House, that Democrats will control and reform filibuster in the Senate and that President Obama will serve two terms.
The next Congress, the 113th, is unlikely to fare worse than the only previous Congress ending in 13. The 13th Congress sat during the War of 1812, suffered the British sacking of Washington D.C. and found itself scattered to the four winds. I daresay, that John Boehner, if he is given one last grasp of the gavel, wouldn't do a whole lot worse than that. But I don't think he's going to get it.
For more thoughts about my deep, abiding and growing sense that the next Congress will be ours, come out into the tall grass.
It starts in my home district, the Illinois Tenth. I blogged passionately about the young progressive who sought the nomination here, and have hardly written a word about the race since he lost to a triangulating, New Democratic Coalition businessman, in a 4 way race (the good guy ran 2nd).
I live in the most Obama 2008 + Congressional District in America still represented by a Republican, first term incumbent, Robert Dold. Alas, the Democrat, Brad Schneider, offers only a modest philosophical improvement over Dold when it comes to regulatory, labor and tax matters, But, to the good, Democrat Schneider is the complete opposite of GOP, Dold, in Schneider's robust support on marriage equality, choice, women's health, and other cherished progressive issues. So, Schneider gets my vote and, more importantly, Speaker Pelosi will get his in a Democratic majority caucus. If our Party is to control the 113th Congress, we must win seats like these.
In past elections outside groups and the GOP have run tough local ads against our local Congressional candidate and waged vigorous local campaigns. This year, though, the Congressional campaign is barely a whisper. Judging only by the direct mail campaign, and comparing it to what I experienced during the primary, I'd have to say there is nothing much going on, at all. The Chamber of Commerce was up with a lame generic ad, but I've seen no effort by Dold to define Schneider or stake a position in this race except against tax increases. The direct TV war is no better. Here is how a local paper described it:
Nowhere in any of the five commercials aired so far—three by Dold and two from Schneider—is the word Democrat or Republican mentioned. Neither are the words progressive or tea party used in the spots in this race drawing national attention.It's like the Republican campaign doesn't know what to talk about any more. None of the old stuff works any more and they don't have any new stuff. I have every sense that the GOP incumbent will be whisked out and Obama's coattails will whisk in businessman, wobbly Democrat, Brad Schneider, to what I'm beginning to sense will be the Democratic 113th Congress.
In fairness to reality, the little objective data available on this subject suggests that I am wrong, about the 113th Congress, if not about my local district. I located only one poll for the Illinois Tenth, showing the candidates tied at 46%. Huffington Posts poll tracker has not yet seen a tip to probable House control by Democrats. Huffington Post projects Democrats to fall more or less half way short of the seats necessary to capture the House. Intrade gives us a 26.5% chance of pulling it off, as of today.
But the pundits picking the races only have to be wrong in a small number of cases for there to be a very different outcome. And just like the only poll in my local Congressional race, taken in August, a lot of the relatively scarce Congressional race polling data could be badly outdated if it doesn't account for the general, recent cascade of GOP fortunes under the tender mercies of Romney and Ryan.
What betides the 113th Congress is, at least, a weakened GOP majority and, at best, Speaker Pelosi.