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Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands the speaker's gavel to incoming House Speaker John Boehner after Boehner was elected Speaker on the opening day of the 112th United States Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 5, 2011. Republicans are t
Could this thing be headed back to the left in January of 2015?

Perhaps it is merely a sign of how desperate political junkies are to talk about anything that is not debt ceiling/shutdown related. Or perhaps it is a sign that those same junkies are dying to see what repercussions, if any, exist from the debt ceiling/shutdown contretemps.

Either way, it is pretty darned rare that a series of House polls, conducted 13 months out, would garner as much attention as the spate of polls released last week by PPP/MoveOn received.

Those polls, conducted in two dozen districts currently held by Republican incumbents, found that the Democratic target of 17 pickups is potentially within reach, based on how those incumbents perform against generic Democratic opposition. As most election junkies know, most polling experts have fairly reasonable quibbles about the use of a generic opponent. That said, at 13 months out, and even the better Democratic recruits remaining relatively unknown, that might be a decent barometer of those Republicans and their current state of political affairs than a true trial heat, which at this point might give them an artificially large lead built solely on name recognition. In other words, while it doesn't purely have predictive value (these Republicans will not be running against a "generic Democrat" in 2014), that doesn't mean they should necessarily be ignored.

The reaction to the PPP/MoveOn polls has essentially fallen into two camps:

  • "This doesn't mean squat. The Republicans are still a virtual guarantee to be in the House majority in 2015.
  • This means everything. The shutdown has completely eroded public confidence in the Republicans. Speaker Pelosi. Get used to it. Again."

My sense? Both of these reactions are a bit overcooked. Anyone who puts Republican control of the House at greater than 95 percent is being unduly optimistic on behalf of the elephants, I would say. But anyone who thinks that the Republicans have pissed away the majority over a year before the midterms is ignoring history.

The PPP/MoveOn polls grabbed a lot of attention, but those data are not in isolation. And, taken together, the numbers lead me to think, at least for now, that the question of which party controls the House after next year is quite a bit less apparent than most analysts suspect.

What's more: I'd make the argument that only a willfully blinded GOP cheerleader would try to seriously argue that the House forecast for the Republican majority in 2014 is not worse now than it was six months ago.

Follow me past the jump for a critical look at the PPP/MoveOn poll analysis, and a "best guess" about the current state of play.

A representative sample of the "this doesn't mean anything" crowd was a piece earlier this week by The New Republic's Nate Cohn.

He pooh-poohs Democratic prospects on a couple of different grounds.

The first of those grounds is one that should, indeed, slow the roll of any "Speaker Pelosi" arguments:

The preponderance of undecided voters supported Romney and their incumbent congressperson last November, so there’s good reason to assume that Republicans will consolidate their support in the absence of a strong challenger.
This is easily the best argument Cohn makes, because there is plenty of history to support it. Sure, it is possible that the Republicans could become so toxic that they could repel even supporters of Mitt Romney in legitimate quantities. But, on balance, it seems more likely that those somewhat dismayed Republicans will simply come home, particularly in a close election where Democratic seizure of the House becomes a possibility.

And, ultimately, a reluctant vote counts the same as an enthusiastic vote, as long as it gets cast.

Another of Cohn's pillars for his argument is certainly defensible, though I think the case can be made that recent history undermines its impact:

There’s a huge problem with the PPP survey: It pits named Republican incumbents against generic Democrats. In many of these districts, Democrats don’t have challengers capable of taking advantage of whatever favorable conditions may exist. Even if the Democrats do recruit decent challengers, they still might not do as well as a generic Democrat.

The recruiting issue is one that even PPP's own Tom Jensen conceded could be an issue. It's a cliché, but a valid one: You can't beat someone with no one. Without naming names (I have no taste for demeaning the candidates that did make the bid), Democrats had to kick themselves for the number of seats where they had ill-funded and little-known candidates that notched between 40-47 percent of the vote. Identifying excellent prospects for pickup, and getting candidates in those races who can take advantage, is one of the primary tasks of the DCCC. And there is little doubt that it has an important job to do in the coming months.

However, there are two pretty big caveats to Cohn's argument here, as well.

For one thing, it would appear to me that those 24 districts were not chosen in a vacuum. Democrats have recruited candidates in many of them already. If you look at the early DCCC lists of candidates, and the districts that are listed in the PPP/MoveOn poll, there is an ample amount of crossover. Indeed, if you look at the DCCC's ActBlue page for their list of "Jumpstart" candidates (challengers in vulnerable GOP seats), you will find that of the sixteen candidates listed there, all but two are running in districts that were polled by PPP/MoveOn. To put it another way, the Democrats are already running DCCC-promoted candidates (many of whom are already fundraising at a more than respectable clip) in more than half of the districts polled by PPP/MoveOn. What's more, Democrats have fairly known quantities that have announced in several other of those districts (Jim Mowrer in Iowa comes to mind). I find only a handful of districts where the Democrats are either still waiting on a candidate, or are still saddled with Some Dude.

Furthermore, if a partisan wave (or, in this case, perhaps undertow would be a better term) does develop, the "quality" of the opposition matters a lot less. I mean, let's be honest, is anyone going to argue that Blake Farenthold and Joe Walsh were rock-star political candidates? In 2010, did that matter?

Cohn's third point, one echoed to an extent by Huffpost/Pollster head Mark Blumenthal, is that PPP has been this way before, in the last election cycle, and issued numbers that wound up far rosier than the final outcome.

It is something Jensen even acknowledged in a follow-up with Blumenthal, and cited the recruiting issue as a primary issue. It is also a caution that was issued when PPP released a second round of GOP House polls on Friday:

To be sure, as Stuart Rothenberg and others have noted over the last week, these polls are a snapshot of opinion at one point in time and hardly guarantee electoral outcomes 13 months from now. Democrats must recruit strong candidates and run effective campaigns in individual districts if they are to capitalize on the vulnerability revealed by these surveys. And they must maintain a strong national advantage to net 17 seats and win back the House. But given these results, and other national surveys that show more Americans now believe in Sasquatch than approve of Republicans, one would have to almost be willfully ignorant of the facts to argue that a wave election in which Democrats retake the House of Representatives is out of reach.
That last sentence, to me, is the key, and it has to date been one of the more frustrating things about the collective shrug most in Pundit-land have given to the 2014 elections.

If the argument were that a Democratic reclaiming of the House of Representatives was merely difficult, given how the 2010 redistricting constricted the playing field and picking up 17 seats is a tougher task than it used to be, that would be one thing. Indeed, there is no shortage of validity to that argument.

But, it is the general sense that a Democratic majority is basically an impossibility that seems odd. In what is, by and large, an excellent critical piece by The Guardian's Harry Enten on the PPP/MoveOn polls, he prefaces his analysis with this statement:

Outside a few diehards, no analyst gives Democrats much of a chance to take back the House of Representatives. It would take at least 17 seats for the House to change hands.
My quibble with that is that there is no shortage of evidence that the GOP brand is absolutely lower than low right now. Generic ballot tests of recent vintage are as lopsided as we've seen in quite some time. It seems a bit much to dismiss anyone who sees legitimate prospects for a Democratic takeover as a "diehard" lacking in objectivity.

At this point, I think there is a clear, and objective, case that the Democrats have a realistic shot at either seizing a narrow House majority, or doing serious damage to the Republican advantage in the House.

But, it must be said, anyone who thinks that this is somehow a foregone conclusion is probably setting themselves up for disappointment.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given my own political preferences, the bulk of my Twitter feed is made up of folks whose political views run to the left-of-center. And those folks were positively giddy this week when the PPP/MoveOn polls were released.

It is tempting to think that the GOP intransigence on the budget, which has contributed to their abysmal poll numbers, is a guaranteed golden ticket to the majority. But it's not. At least, not yet.

There are a few things for the excessively optimistic to bear in mind:

  • While the Republican Party brand name is lower than dog poop (literally, if you've read the national PPP poll from this week), it is not like the Democratic Party is in clover. While the Democrats are certainly weathering the storm better than the GOP, their collective poll numbers are not stellar, either. As an example, look where the net favorability ratings for the Democrats stand now, versus the two Democratic wave elections of recent memory. In October 2005, the Democrats were a net plus-16. In late September of 2007, the Democrats were a net plus-10. In a Gallup survey earlier this month (the earlier surveys were also Gallup, so an apples-to-apples comparison applies), the Democrats were a net minus-6.
  • Now, the counter to that, which is more than fair, is that the GOP's numbers are way worse than they were in 2005 or 2007. Furthermore, there is precedent for a political party with net-negative approval (the GOP in 2010) winning a massive number of seats.

    But the circumstances are different than they were in 2005 or 2007. The Democrats had much more low-hanging fruit in those cycles, and the GOP had two waves worth of low-hanging fruit to pluck in 2010. The pundits are not wrong here: There are far fewer obvious candidates for either party to flip than there have been in previous cycles. What that means, unlike in previous cycles, is that to claim a majority, the Democrats are going to have to win an extremely high percentage of the competitive races in order to win a majority.

  • Thirteen months is a long, long time. And voters have proven in the past that they are capable of having frustratingly short memories. Helpfully, in 2011, Mark Blumenthal took a look into the past at how voters responded to the 1995 Gingrich/GOP shutdown. The results should be a cautionary tale for optimistic Democrats. Among the data points he cited: the shutdown gave the Democrats a yawning gap in the Congressional ballot test (Democrats +8) within a month or so after the shutdown. But what happened on Election Day 1996 (with a larger turnout than we are liable to see in 2014)? The Democratic edge evaporated, and the Democrats picked up about half of the seats that they needed to reclaim the House, which was held by the Republicans by a roughly similar margin to where the GOP edge is today.

So, when Democrats are buoyed by individual polls, or by analysis such as this piece by Princeton's Sam Wang, a cautionary note must be struck. No one gets elected 13 months before an election. And there is recent history that suggests that major gains, or a seizure of the chamber, is far from guaranteed.

So, what is the state of play? As I said earlier, I agree wholeheartedly with the final sentence of that PPP analysis of their most recent dozen House polls. You'd have to be willfully ignorant to entirely dismiss the prospects that there may be a wave election in our future. But the key word here, and one Democrats would be wise not to forget, is may. Individual data points like the PPP/MoveOn numbers look good, but those Republican opponents won't be running against "someone else" come November 2014. What's more, the assumption that the GOP will linger in the cellar is just that—an assumption. They could well find the fairway between now and 13 months from now (though they show no sign of that to date).

If I had to quantify it, I'd put the Democratic odds are reclaiming the House at about 25-35 percent ... but rising. Which is not as bleak a forecast as many in the pundit class remain insistent upon, but nowhere near as optimistic as many Democrats have become over the past month.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 09:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the republicans are starting to look like (5+ / 0-)

    those monks that set themselves on fire.  Although they are too happy to take others along with them.

    •  "Those monks that set themselves on fire" refers (11+ / 0-)

      to Vietnamese Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire to protest the Roman Catholic puppet Diem's persecution of them in 1962- 63.

      I really must object in the strongest terms possible to any comparison between these Republican scumbags and the Vietnamese Buddhist monks.

      •  there is no comparison (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hamm, tikkun

        It is a bogus analogy founded on the ignorance of the commenter.  It is a sad display.

      •  yes, there is no comparison (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is a bogus analogy founded on the ignorance of the commenter.  

      •  Deeply offensive and poorly reasoned (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IndianaProgressive, MichaelNY

        Offensive (as stated above) as well as a very weak analogy. The TP Republicans are unlike the Vietnamese Buddhist monks far more than they are like the monks.

        •  I meant that what they're doing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is ineffectual.  I don't know, did the monks ever get any results out of their self annihilation?

          •  Absolutly they did (4+ / 0-)

            It became an international focal point that brought world-wide attention to the evil and corrupt Diem regime.  I think it was a stunning example of how non-violent protest (in this case with people making the ultimate sacrifice) can help change the world.  And they have served as an inspiration for people ever since of how one simple person, acting on sincerely held beliefs, can stand up against power.

          •  Sure. Kennedy's people paid $42,000 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to get the Diem brothers killed. Then installed Drug Biz generals.

            Not what the Buddhists wanted.

          •  Understood (0+ / 0-)

            A comparison between the man (John Constantino) who set himself on fire on the Mall last Friday might be better, then. I can see how self-immolation could be regarded as a last, desperate act (and in his case it likely was). By 'weak analogy' I meant that the similarity between Quang Duc and the TP Republicans ends at the most superficial level - after that, they are vastly different.

            My answer to your question would be that there were no immediate or direct positive effects. Of course, there are people here that are far better able to respond to that specifically.

            Lastly, I understand you didn't mean to touch a nerve. It is certainly an example that is familiar to nearly everyone.

      •  Not just that. (5+ / 0-)

        Self-immolation is a fairly common form of protest-suicide in Asia. I think it may have started with Buddhist monks supporting a variety of causes (the aforementioned Vietnamese protests, human rights protests in Burma, I believe some Tibetan Buddhist protests against Chinese rule), but it has since been used by lay people as well -- including by Chinese protesting forced demolitions, among other things.

        Certainly not a good analogy to the GOP strategy. Self-immolators generally do their protest in the middle of a paved road, as far as I've seen -- thus they can be seen by everyone but are less likely to hurt others by catching people on fire. A few other cases with people protesting forced demolitions involved them self-immolating in their homes, though I'm sure they reasoned that the building was going to come down anyway.

        Meanwhile, the GOP strategy is explicitly about hurting everyone, and then pointing fingers in various places where the hurt is going on as if to say "see what you made me do?" It's very much more the tactic of a bully or an abuser.

        •  One of the saddest moments in Errol Morris' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          documentary The Fog of War about McNamara was when the filmmaker discussed the life and death of Quaker Norman Morrison who committed self-immolation right outside McNamara's Pentagon office in early 1965 to protest American escalation in Vietnam.

          Even at that early date, McNamara and LBJ knew the war could not be won at a cost acceptable to the American people. But still 54,000 Americans and 1-2 million southeast Asians had to die and countless more be wounded and have their lives destroyed.

          The Teabillies remind me more of Samson (minus the heroics, of course), willing to destroy themselves and anyone around them irrespective of the harm and suffering they will cause.

          Thanks for the detail on the cultural roots of self-immolation. I was especially saddened to read of the self-immolation recently of a Gulf War vet Constantino (?) on the National Mall. Unclear as I write exactly what he was protesting. But he apparently fired off a salute in the direction of the Capital before he lit himself on fire.

      •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is both an ignorant and offensive comparison.  I'll give the poster (and the five people who have recommended it) the benefit of the doubt and call it more on the ignorant side.

  •  i give 95% odds (20+ / 0-)

    that in november 2014, there will be an election.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:05:42 AM PDT

  •  Another factor not mentioned--- (14+ / 0-)

    Business groups like the Chamber and NAM have said in the last few days that they will seek out and fund moderate republicans to raun against some of the tea party house members.

    Contested primaries for republicans haven't been factored in to the equation, but it can't be a good thing for them.  At a minimum it will require the expenditure of money and could easily demoralized the voters on the losing primary side.

  •  Jump start candidates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Are they worthy of being backed?  Not in their chances to win, not in their ideological purity, but in their competence and openness to reason and facts?

    If they are, I'm inclined to let me contribute to them sooner rather than later.

  •  That was the spin on Georgie today-- (12+ / 0-)

    Noonan and Senor dismissed the chances of Democrats capturing the House in 2014 as basically "no chance in hell", to paraphrase.

    Of course, they are also supremely confident that the ACA is going to be such a colossal failure that Republicans will just say "Obamacare" and that will be that.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

  •  Everything is so fluid (4+ / 0-)

    solid Rs that get crossover support could be primaried out by nutzo baggers if they vote the "wrong" way on the DL/Shutdown.

    Too early to get concerned about the status of the horse race at this point imo but it is interesting, and you can learn a thing or two, watching them line up getting ready to get into the gate.

  •  I think the pattern of Repubs holding the House (10+ / 0-)

    and Democrats winning the presidency is going to hold for awhile.

    Dem inability to match Repub vote in midterms, plus that more than "frustratingly short memory," will keep the House in Repub hands for a "frustratingly long time."

    Only generational change will break this logjam. Crises used to do it, but even terrible crises don't work anymore.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:17:44 AM PDT

  •  Not only is the GOP "brand" low... (11+ / 0-)

    ...but the things they'd need to do to resurrect it would damage enthusiasm among the hardest core base.

    Or worse.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:20:50 AM PDT

  •  Query... (4+ / 0-)

    did the Gingrich shut down include threats over the debt ceiling and sequester cuts coming down?  No one's going to forget this!  And the images of the TP whupping it up at their conservative party while the nation suffered?  

    Run the clips during election season.

  •  Why wait until next year? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Calamity Jean

    Before the nation plummets into a default and the next recession and whatever crisis that comes with that - why not call on those 17 Republicans to switch party, elect a new Speaker of the House and get the clean bill passed...

    Just sayin' ;-)

    PS: I'm quite aware that the chances are zero, but it might shine an additional light on the fact, that it is probably not only that orange guy who puts his own job before the nations's interest - you'll be hard pressed to actually find one Republican in the House who would put country first...

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

    by RandomGuyFromGermany on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:23:24 AM PDT

  •  We WILL win. They CAN'T have America. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, TofG, Tommy Aces
  •  I'm just hoping Dems gain enough to put the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, skohayes, MichaelNY

    house realistically in range for 2016

  •  willfully blind cheerleaders? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, judyms9, Tommy Aces

    welcome to the GOP where the Libertarian wing is arguing they have helped the brand and the really radical ones are arguing that a government default would be the best thing for the world economy.

    It is going to get interesting as our partners and allies are getting really really nervous, most notably the Chinese.  With about 1/3 of their reserves in US debt, they are very unamused with the GOP kabuki.  Worse yet, they seem to have little patience with the GOP as well, as they historically have more pragmatic solutions for contentious opposition parties  

  •  Good analysis---which prompts some questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, barkingcat, The BigotBasher
    in absence of a strong challenger
    What constitutes a strong challenger in a high-R PVI district?

    How does one go from zero name recognition to being a strong challenger in a high-R PVI district?  In a lot of districts all Democrats will be "little known" because the Democratic Party is assumed to be dead there.

    Furthermore, if a partisan wave (or, in this case, perhaps undertow would be a better term) does develop, the "quality" of the opposition matters a lot less.
    So how do Democrats create a wave election in an off-year after having won the Presidency in the previous election?  Now consider this question with the Republicans having an unlimited amount of money and media capability to saturate the election down to the dog catcher level.

    But both 1994 and 2010 show that wave elections can be created by the GOP out of whole cloth (deliberately lying to voters).  And likely a defense against a wave election could be done the same way--through voter confusion.

    Outside a few diehards, no analyst gives Democrats much of a chance to take back the House of Representatives. It would take at least 17 seats for the House to change hands.
    The analysts by and large tilt GOP anyway.  And the analysts know that Steve Israel is the one coordinating the Democrats' House campaign.  That in itself should cause some pause in the giddy optimism.

    Given the history of laziness and the Blue Dog tilt of the Congressional establishment, how exactly will the Democrats differentiate themselves so as to win new districts?

    And voters have proven in the past that they are capable of having frustratingly short memories.
    Because the GOP and the Wall Street media chip away at voter discontent and the Democrats go silent or are shut out of view.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:39:28 AM PDT

  •  What an excellent write up Steve. Three cheers to (11+ / 0-)

    you sir.  Data, facts, no hyperbole, sound reasoning, no partisan hypocrisy or intellectual dishonesty.  I very much appreciate your good work here.

    MMT = Reality

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. Please join our Kos group "Money and Public Purpose". The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it.

    by Auburn Parks on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:42:51 AM PDT

  •  Method to the madness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even the tea party nihilists are somewhat capable politicians or they wouldn't be there. They are making the calculation that the money they get from their base now will be worth whatever lingering poll hit they take a year from now.

    They are probably right. People in this country have very short memories when it comes to politics and most people will remember the shutdown as "that time when all the politicians shut down the government." So much will have happened between now and then that the most present thing in people's minds will be the campaign ads splattered all over the place.

    We can win, but it will mean finding a way to remind everyone what the Republicans did. Optimally the debt ceiling could be extended until one year from now. For one thing it would provide the occasion to rehash this year's fight. Secondly, we could probably swing a pretty sweet deal since another shutdown would be untenable right before the election.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:44:26 AM PDT

  •  The point is we are back in contention. (13+ / 0-)

    As I've said before, you can't introduce 'government shutdown' into the body politic without it having an effect. It raises the political antennae of the general public just as much as 'war' or 'recession.' And certainly, the anti-government party can't effectively make a case that the pro-government party shut down the government. Much easier to make the inverse.

  •  "Speaker Pelosi" part deux (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, waterstreet2013

    That in and of itself scares the entire spectrum of the GOP.

  •  A lot of good points here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't forget the structural factors, though. In the absence of crazy circumstances (1998's impeachment fiasco + phenomenal economy), the 6th year of a presidency is bad news for his party, particularly if he's under 50% approval.

    Are this year's events "crazy" enough to override the sluggish economy, unpopular president, massive Democratic exposure in the Senate, etc.? Perhaps. But we can't lose sight of the tides under the waves, which are pulling distinctly against us in a 2nd-term midterm -- especially because this wave is likely to recede at least somewhat in the public's mind.

    For now, I'm in the "can't" camp. But a strong recruiting class and continued Republican shenanigans could change my mind.

    Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

    by cardinal on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:58:33 AM PDT

  •  That caption blew me away: (0+ / 0-)
    Could this thing be headed back to the left in January of 2015?
    When was the last time the left had it?

    So.... a Democratic President who pushes through pro-1% / anti-worker "Free" Trade Deals is complaining about Republicans wanting to hurt the poor. Do Go On.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:00:44 AM PDT

  •  Good analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been very skeptical of Dems retaking the House. A net 17 seat gain is a very heavy lift, especially in a midterm.

    In great political environments for the incumbent in the WH, the GOP gained 8 seats in 2002, and the Dems gained 5 seats in 1998.

    Add in the fact that we have lot of seats in moderate districts that we won/held in 2012 that we cant afford to lose in 2014.

    But the government shutdown certainly hurt has hurt GOP's chances of keeping the House. How much? We'll have to wait a few months to see the full effect.

  •  Polls are interesting but... (0+ / 0-)

    neither party has leadership or solutions to move the country and the economy forward.

  •  It's not just the shutdown and threatened (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    malie, barkingcat

    default that should be hung around the necks of the GOP, it's the effects the radical rightwing has had on US stature in the world and how they are making us more vulnerable because we appear to be having a collective nervous breakdown.  The GOP must be repeatedly cited for this because they have always pretended to be the party with the only acceptable foreign policy and have tried to project national strength and unity.  That just isn't happening now, thanks to them.  The TP is the nation's three year old raising hell in the supermarket checkout line.  Everyone takes note.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:20:34 AM PDT

    •  You think American voters (0+ / 0-)

      by and large care about how foreigners view the US? Well, they don't. If they cared much about that, they would never have voted for Republican extremists in any election.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:29:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Assuming that the Republicans hold (3+ / 0-)

    the House in 2014, is there a chance to build a coalition of Dems and moderate Republicans and elect a sane Speaker? It's not as though the TP has control of the house. There must be a few Republicans wanting to distance themselves from the current idiocy.

    ... but He loves you! -- George Carlin -- (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:24:03 AM PDT

  •  Now is the time for... (0+ / 0-)

    While the votes won't be counted for 13 months, folks who don't like the shutdown can and should donate money now.  A massive advantage in fundraising would put the Republicans on their heels, especially since Dem donors tend to donate $25 or $50, and thus can do it again later.  
    If Republicans do try to match a surge in Dem donations, they will probably "shoot their bolt," and not be able to donate more next year.

    The President has the power to delay funding of (for instance) military contracts until after the debt ceiling is lifted

    by computant on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:27:04 AM PDT

  •  The key word is "can" followed by a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, MichaelNY

    series of "ifs," such as "if a suitable candidate decides to run" and "if an electable candidate receives an appropriate level of support."

    Thanks for the reality check.

    preborner: (n.) one who believes that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    by 1BQ on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:27:12 AM PDT

  •  what about the "kick them all out" folks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which is polling at around 60%? Does that mean that the real wave might be "replace all incumbents with newbies," which would damage Democrats as well?

    Or will that narrative also fade as the shutdown (hopefully) recedes in the rear-view mirror?

    •  I would take a House with 232 Dems to 200 Repubs, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      even if it meant my own dearly beloved Rep Maxine Waters takes a hit.

      Waters won't, b/c she's no bum. She does great work for the people. Can't praise her highly enough.

    •  I would like to see 2010 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MetroGnome, waterstreet2013

      I would like to see the numbers on a 'kick them all out' question from 2010.  My memory is that that number was very high then as well- and had very little bite against Republican members.

      'Anybody else' is a much weaker test than even 'Generic other Party'.  The real candidate will be a republican, and to even tap into this sentiment will have to message well and disavow current party leadership while getting support from party activists.  How do you convince a voter that it is Democratic back-benchers fault and it would be better to give more control to Boehner and friends?  Throw them all out is a gap of frustration but not neccessarily something that leads to an even result.  At least with 'generic other party' one piece of info on the alternative is known.

  •  The success or lack of success with be a main (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, waterstreet2013

    factor in the mid terms.  This factor has yet to be determined.  If it is a success then be have as strong of a chance as ever, because we can run to defend it for a population that wants it and likes it and does not want it to go away.  If it is less of a success, then they can and will run on getting rid of it and the same population might be receptive to that argument....perhaps even very receptive to that idea.

     We must make the ACA as much of a success as possible.  The number of enrollees must be as high as possible.  Young people who are healthy must be there in large numbers, so premiums don't sky rocket.  The web site must be working and user friendly.  People must be enrolling rather than paying fines that will just make them mad.  We can do it, and we must do it because it will be a huge part of 2014.

  •  Koch Brothers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, a2nite

    These billionaires are intention crafting a bizarro-world democracy of their own making. Cato Institute needs to be challenged on its 401(c)3/non-profit status.

    •  How long (0+ / 0-)

      But, how long do they get away with this until people realize what they are doing and money becomes a wash?  I'm not at all convinced that Citizens United has ruined democracy, forever, as much as I'll fight doing whatever I can do to roll the decision back.  I'm not at all convinced that they pull off another 2010, and definitely not next year.  The tea party was was an abberation, not a brave, new world.

  •  Funny (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, skohayes

    I do recall a certain Rush Limbaugh wishing for Obama to fail. I awake to see angry tea people with their Confederate flags waving ready to crash the whitehouse gates. Ugh it looks like something is taking alright and its our government. Rush gets his wish. How sad for America.

  •  Is the DCCC capable of the challenge? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As Steve writes:

    Identifying excellent prospects for pickup, and getting candidates in those races who can take advantage, is one of the primary tasks of the DCCC.

    In the past, the DCCC and state-level Democratic parties have proved not entirely up to the task.

    The task for us is to make registration of new voters as easy as possible, however debilitating the particular state's law might be, and to verify the validity of existing registrations, a process that can ferret out problems in advance. This is basic precinct work, but it's important and doing it well (and recruiting volunteers to help with it) can settle Progressives into existing party organizations.

    Another task is to keep the obstructionist politics of Republicans on the forefront. That means thoughtful, reality-driven non-dogmatic letters to editors, participating in town hall meetings with persistent good questions (and with video cameras or other recording devices) and being sure there's publicity of them ... or the absence of them. This also involves active promotion of Democratic achievements: hosting ACA/ObamaCare information meetings anyone?

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 11:35:23 AM PDT

  •  How the GOP extortion relates to chemical weapons (0+ / 0-)

    It was asked this morning in the ABC "This Week" show why Obama wouldn't compromise with the House GOP on the debt default issue.  The response was that Obama did not want future presidents to have to deal with repeats of this extortion threat.

    The current GOP use of debt default as a weapon can be likened to Syria's possession and use of chemical weapons.  No matter what your belief on what tactics should have been employed to disarm Syria of those chemical weapons, there was no dispute worldwide that the future use of those weapons could not be tolerated.  So much so was world opinion united on this fact that the Nobel Peace Prize this year went to the organization whose purpose is to detect and destroy chemical weapons.

    An actual debt default caused by the GOP would trigger worldwide financial meltdowns, much worse than what was seen in 2008 when Lehman Brothers defaulted.  The credit markets would seize up.  So the dismantling of the debt default weapon is every bit as important as is the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons capability.

  •  Regarding Nate Cohn I'm reminded of Nate Silver. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gritsngumbo, skohayes, MichaelNY
    I don't want to totally lump reporters and pundits in together," SIlver said. "It's kind of venial sins versus cardinal sins basically ... where reporting is very, very important and journalism is very, very important, and there are some things about campaign coverage that I might critique. Whereas punditry is fundamentally useless.
    Nate Silver being interviewed by ABC's Jonathan Karl. Bold emphasis mine.

    I'd pick Wang everyday over Cohn. Wang has a track record of success.

    •  I certainly liked his (Wang's) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ratcityreprobate, MichaelNY

      take on it over Nate Silver's well written piece. :)

      Even if the shutdown were to have a moderate political impact — and one that favored the Democrats in races for Congress — it might not be enough for them to regain control of the U.S. House. Instead, Democrats face two major headwinds as they seek to win back Congress.

      But I liked Ezra Klein's take on it too:

      I agree with Nate Silver on this: Political events in October 2013 are very unlikely to drive an election in November 2014...
      There are two ways to interpret the GOP's ill-considered strategy over these last few weeks. One is that it's an aberration. They just made a mistake. It won't happen again.
      The other is that it's structural. They're not here because they forgot to carry the one. They're here because their party has become structurally dysfunctional in ways that are leading to self-destructive behavior.
      If the structural explanation is correct, then some kind of temporary deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling to make room for budget negotiations isn't likely to do the Republican Party much good. The problems will persist, and recur, over the next year — and thus they will affect the 2014 election.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:57:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Impact of Top of Ticket (4+ / 0-)

    The top of the ticket either governor or senator has a big impact on the marginal turnout in an off year election.  For example in New York and California right now their is no mainstream Republican candidate for governor and the most likely candidate is likely to be a classic tea party supporter like New York had in 2010.  

    Similarly both Pennsylvania and Florida have very unpopular Republican governors running at the top of the ticket.  So in at least four major states the Republican at the top of the ticket is a likely to be a net negative ( vote for the Democrat for governor and vote for the Republican for the House).

    In a none wave election or an election where the wave is running against the Republicans, the lack of a viable, attractive candidate at the top of the ticket could reduce Republican turn out substantially.  This is especially true in areas which run a unified turn out operations because it is hard to recruit people if the top of the ticket is bad.

    To see the impact of the top of the ticket people should look at New York and Colorado in 2010, where the Democratic loses seemed to be less than expected.  

    I think the impact of the top of the ticket is the one missing piece of all of this analysis.

    •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

      And something we've learned over the last 3 years is that governors, especially right wing ones, can have a much more immediate and injurious effect on us than the federal government, so we need to work on taking back governorships and state legislatures.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 04:00:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This will motivate Dems and demotivate even the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    most rabid Teapot.  Of course we must fight even harder.

  •  I think a good way to think strategically (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shrew in Shrewsbury, MichaelNY

    about the shutdown as an electoral factor is that it gives us a weapon—but we have to use it. People will remember the shutdown if we remind them, especially by folding it into a narrative that attacks the GOP's strengths. (Never forget Rove's Law. Dude's had his more than his share of cerebral flatulence, but a brain-fart that was not.)

    So what are the GOP's strengths in the mind of the average Joe? I'd need a focus group to be sure, but my guess would include things like “smart,” “serious,” and “reliable.” Also “patriotic.” Not hard to see how we can undermine those strengths using the shutdown saga, but again, we have to use the weapon.

    Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
    Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
    Code Monkey like you!

    Formerly known as Jyrinx.

    by Code Monkey on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:06:12 PM PDT

  •  Turnout, turnout, turnout. (0+ / 0-)

    When elections go below 40$ turnout, it is no longer about who is more popular. In 2010 registered voters polled were pretty much equal Dem / Republican. In likely voters (voter intensity) the tale of woe to come was more than foretold.

    If the shut down does not drive democratic voters out in a mid term, serious thought needs to be given about what other than protest about an illegal war will get the voters out.

  •  Does the Tea Party Stay Home and/or Go Elsewhere? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One thing I haven't heard mentioned in all this is the fact the Tea Party really, really wants to get rid of Obama care and is being told this is their moment.  What happens when that doesn't work?

    More than anything, we need the Tea Party to reject Republicans in 2014.  If they feel betrayed, enough of them won't vote for their incumbent.  Or they will replace the incumbent with someone who will throw the election to the Democrats.

    To put Pelosi back as Speaker will require both, I believe.  Democrats have to be more popular than Republicans and the Republican base needs to be at war with their own party.  Fortunately, both seem to be true at the moment.

  •  Always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Always playing it safe.  Nice way to split the middle.

  •  Unity Caucus for the House ??? (0+ / 0-)

    Has anyone suggested forming a Unity Caucus to put through sensible legislation ???

    Declare it nonpartisan.

    Pass basic legislation that eliminates these shutdown and debt ceiling issues.

    Then, anyone wants, go back to the normal insanity.

    Make some axxhole like Pete King the IRA Man (from Long Island) the Speaker. Get things done.

  •  I lived through the Walker recalls, (0+ / 0-)

    so "if the election were held today" polls are meaningless to me.

    It's not just about them being a year away. The GOP has not had a chance to saturate the airwaves with poll-tested political aids spinning the blame onto someone else as they would in an actual campaign.

  •  Good essay (0+ / 0-)

    But I think you're a bit overly optimistic, as things stand. I would consider the feat of taking 17 seats from the Republicans to be no more than a 15-20% chance right now, if that.  Come back next year at this time, if the Republicans have shut the government down again.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:33:14 AM PDT

  •  The 800 lb gorilla(s) (0+ / 0-)

    There is no question that Democrats should be very grateful for the addled Oompa Loompas on the other side, but it's not like they have much to crow about.

    1.  Millions remain mired in the effects of the 2008-2009 economic collapse nearly 5 years into the current administration.  The body count of foreclosed homes continues to pile up.  

    To watch the news is to see a continuing 4 year recovery that is invisible on the streets in much of the country. If Republicans can stop clowning around and get serious, Democrats are vulnerable on the economy. Hell, 2012 should have been a very different election.

    2.  ACA will be reality for everybody.  Happy/unhappy will be a factor in the electionsl.  If big broad deep happy applies, Republicans  will have a problem.  If big braid deep unhappy applies, bye-bye Speaker Pelosi.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 03:25:51 AM PDT

    •  Foreclosures (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Foreclosures are down, way down.  A lot of people got kicked out of their homes during the recession, but by the hard numbers, the housing market is pretty well recovered.  So, let's not make stuff worse than it actually is to try and make a pessimistic point.  I'd say to try and paint the foreclosures as a "body count" as opposed to how they are usually viewed would be a great way to skew an opinion to make things look worse than they are.  There is actually a "normal" rate of foreclosures just as their is a "normal" rate of unemployment.

      Foreclosures aren't and will not be one of the "800lb gorillas" in the room, and so long as the economy holds steady (and it's very likely to continue growing, even in the face of all kinds of conservative intrasigence and sabotage), the Democrats may not be able to make much of a gain off of it, but it certainly won't be a liability.

      Some folks are trying to find a way out the world backwards to try to cover their asses in predictions, and it'd just be good to look at the trends of the actual numbers and mood of the electorate.  It reminds me of 2012 when people were playing it safe by predicting that it was even likely that the Democrats would have a net loss of seats in the House.  Really, these folks are worse to me than the delusional cheerleaders, because these folks are knowingly being disingenuous.

      •  You really need to analyze better (0+ / 0-)

        Most important, you must recognize that there have been at least two economies in the last five years: the depression and the people who were slammed by it and everybody else.  I would venture to guess you are one of the everybody elses.

        Being down from a high level of foreclosures is better, but not necessarily good in an absolute sense.  Many of those foreclosures are follow-ons of people who have been badly battered previously, and finally run out the string.

        In terms of the "not everybody else" crowd, more and more people are losing their homes (ie, the pile is growing larger) even if the current rate is going down. The same thing as the economy at large -- no depression for those who got slammed, continuing misery for those who did.  No sense of shared hardship, millions left to dangle in the wind.

        Finally, there is some ebb and flow with foreclosures.  Fortunately for the fortunate, there is no wave of "new" foreclosures. "Old" foreclosures climb in spurts as one court action or another is settled or one government decision or another is issued.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 08:18:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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