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Without Agenda, Dems May Not Capitalize on Dynamics of 2006

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:32 pm - November 6, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,National Politics

If the Democrats fail to capture a majority in either House of Congress tomorrow, they can attribute their failure primarily to two factors, the Republicans’ superior Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation and their own party’s failure to articulate a compelling agenda, their own inability to make clear what they plan to do once in power. Because so far, they have yet to tell the American people what they stand for — besides opposing President Bush.

Over a year ago, I suggested that the 2006 elections could resemble those of 1998 where the GOP expected to make gains against the Democrats merely largely because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal — as well as the Six-Year Itch. My party ran against Democratic corruption, but failed to offer an alternative agenda of its own — and ended up losing seats in the House (while breaking even in the Senate). That year, without anything to vote for, many Republicans stayed home.

This year, in the waning days of the campaign, there is some sign of an absence of enthusiasm for the Democrats. A recent rally for the Democratic gubernatorial and Senatorial candidates in Michigan featuring former President Bill Clinton “drew at most 500 people, the fewest at any Clinton campaign event in any state this year.

The clear sign of hope for the GOP this year is that, perhaps because of the Democrats’ absence of agenda, there appears to be, as Bruce noted earlier today, a last-minute surge to the GOP. (And since Bruce posted his piece, another poll confirmed this surge, this one by “the Democracy Corps. . ., a Democratic outfit, finds the Dems with only a four-point edge on the generic preference ballot, 49%-45%, with the Republicans closing fast.“)

This surge seems to reflect a pattern reminiscent of the election of 1992 — in Great Britain — where, as I noted in June, “voters deciding at the last minute opted for the incumbent party, not confident that the Kinnock, from Labour’s left wing, could pull the UK out of its then-lingering recession.

Noting a similar trend, blogger Robert Musil thinks “there is a very good chance that undecided voters will break disproportionately towards the GOP in this race – especially in Congressional races.” While he acknowledges that the Iraq war helps the Democrats, he observes that the information on that issue “is all out, and has been force-fed for weeks to virtually every voter. Anyone who is going to make a decision to vote one way or the other on the basis of that issue has almost certainly done so already.

The rest of the “major issues,” he claims “favor the GOP: nearly historic low unemployment, historic stock market highs, stabilized low interest rates, historic high home ownership rates, declining gas prices.” (Now that I’ve whet your appetite, read the whole thing as well as his cautionary followup post. H/t Mickey Kaus.)

While the dynamics of the year, notably the “phenomenon which pundits dub” as the “Six-Year Itch” works against the party in power, the Democrats have, by and large, failed to capitalize on GOP’s missteps this year. At the same time, Republican leaders, recognizing their disadvantage this year, have focused on the party’s GOTV operation, credited for helping the party overcome the dynamics of 2002, another off-year election where the party won back the Senate and made gains in the House.

In the final hours of this campaign, it seems that a number of factors are turning in the GOP’s favor. While this seems to guarantee that the GOP will hold the Senate, the House remains up for grabs.

If this momentum continues until tomorrow, the GOP may well hold both Houses of Congress. If so, we will have learned a lesson which Democrats don’t seem to have learned from Bill Clinton, the most successful Democratic politician of the second half of the twentieth century.

Clinton, unlike his non-incumbent British counterpart in 1992, understood that voters wanted something to vote for. Aware that Americans wouldn’t just vote George H.W. Bush out of office, he offered a moderate agenda, advocating welfare reform, a middle-class tax cut and supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This year, given that one of his acolytes, Rahm Emanuel, chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), one would expect the party to follow in the former president’s footsteps, offering a real agenda. Instead, Democrats have gambled that running against a president with mediocre job-approval numbers in a year whose dynamics favor them, would be enough to put them over the top.

While the Democrats could still pull this out, had they campaigned as did Clinton in 1992 and 1996, I would give them better odds. And Rahm Emanuel would be much less “nervous” than he has been in recent days.



  1. “nearly historic low unemployment, historic stock market highs, stabilized low interest rates, historic high home ownership rates, declining gas prices.

    The only major market indicator hitting new highs is the Dow. The far broader NASDAQ and S&P500 are well below their highs from 2000. Indeed the NASDAQ is about half its all-time high. Stabilized low interest rates? What a joke. My ARM interest rate benchmark (the relatively stable 11th District COF) has more than doubled in two years. And those wonderful home ownership rates have been at the cost of financing gimmicks that are going to wreck many dreams. As for the declining gas prices, they’ve stopped declining – must be an election approaching! Just wait until after tomorrow – oil and gas prices will climb back up.

    Comment by Ian — November 6, 2006 @ 11:08 pm - November 6, 2006

  2. ian, such a negative guy. Is the sky blue? I wish you had more experiences to compare too. Like the Carter years when unemployment was 7% and rising, mortgage rates were 18% and inflation was also 7% a year. The Bush years are nirvanna. You just have nothing to compare too. In Europe they are saddled with 1% growth a year. USA averages 3-4%. It’s great to live in this country. I wish you agreed.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — November 6, 2006 @ 11:44 pm - November 6, 2006

  3. Indeed the NASDAQ is about half its all-time high.

    Which is not surprising; the NASDAQ was the tech-heavy exchange, and its all-time high was set at the height of the Internet bubble. The NYSE, on the other hand, is much less so, since it’s mostly income-stock based, and considered to be a much stronger indicator of sustainable economic growth. Furthermore, since the S&P 500 is based on both the NYSE and the NASDAQ, it’s going to be low; it reflected the bubble as well.

    My ARM interest rate benchmark (the relatively stable 11th District COF) has more than doubled in two years.

    Indeed it has.

    However, as you note, what you are screaming about is the fact that it has gone from its low of 1.708 in May of 2004 to a current high of 4.382 — which is still over half a percentage point lower than the lowest it hit during 2000, and only just now approaching the levels it saw during the late 1990s.

    If you were measuring consistently, Ian, you would realize that. But the simple fact of the matter is that your economic knowledge is limited to the talking points you receive; that’s why you can whine that a bubble-based NASDAQ and higher interest rates made for a “better economy”.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 6, 2006 @ 11:50 pm - November 6, 2006

  4. #2:

    Is the sky blue?

    Here in Arizona it’s always blue. Look, Dan’s quote was pollyannish and I simply wanted to inject a note of reality.

    #3: Only the naive believe that one or two narrow indices are representative of the “stock market.” As for your casual dismissal of the NASDAQ, just tell that to all those who lost a lot of money in it over the last six years.

    The benchmark for my ARM has doubled in two years. Your blather notwithstanding, such performance hardly represents “stabilized low interest rates” which was what my comment was in reference to. Plus the trend is up and certain to continue in that direction – absent the Dems taking over one or both of the House and Senate tomorrow – what with the GOP’s profligate goverment spending.

    Comment by Ian — November 7, 2006 @ 12:21 am - November 7, 2006

  5. The benchmark for my ARM has doubled in two years.

    If there was any evidence needed to prove you’re an idiot….well there it is. And no, neither Bush nor the GOP has anything to do with that.

    just tell that to all those who lost a lot of money in it over the last six years.

    I haven’t, Slappy. If you’re not responsible and stay on top of it, that’s your problem, not Bush’s.

    But this fits the liberal template. Blame everybody else for your mistakes.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — November 7, 2006 @ 1:55 am - November 7, 2006

  6. Good one TGC
    You got Ian good.
    Calling him “Slappy” and an “idiot” really emphasized your points.

    And then of course NDT might put out some more stats that are blatantly warped yet fit his limited worldview. (or he might just call me an anti-semite again)

    Its folks like you two who make the rational leave this blog

    Comment by keogh — November 7, 2006 @ 7:51 am - November 7, 2006

  7. When the Nadaq was double, wasn’t it mostly because of scam-based businesses like pets-dot-com and the two trillion spent in Y2K compliance? How exactly was an economy built on dumb venture capitalists giving

    Comment by V the K — November 7, 2006 @ 7:56 am - November 7, 2006

  8. kazillions to dot-coms with nothing but an URL, a suite of overpriced offices in San Francisco, and a vintage Pac-Man machine in the employees lounge a great economic model?

    I still think Dan and Bruce are whistling past the graveyard. The Nuts will take over the House, and while they are very likely to launch insane impeachment investigations, massive tax hikes, and amnesty bills for terrorists and illegal immigrants, the Crooks should not just sit back and wait for this to happen. We have to figure out how use their time in the minority to get the GOP back to first (Conservative) principles.

    But speaking of the economy, if you really want to cripple the economy big time, just enact two centerpieces of the Democrat agenda… massive tax increases coupled with 100% inspection of all cargo containers entering the US. Since our economy is based on trade, that second measure will all-but-assure a recession.

    Comment by V the K — November 7, 2006 @ 8:04 am - November 7, 2006

  9. Ian, if you could find an index that was tied to the political fortunes of just the radical Democrats, you’d use it as a vector to prove BushCo is a failure. Guess what, after Election Day, that index would still be worth nothing.

    Just Do No isn’t leadership.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 7, 2006 @ 10:00 am - November 7, 2006

  10. If the Democrats take over the Congress the good thing is we will get out of the Middle East all together. The Jews can take care of themselves, or the Euros can assist them if there is trouble. Plus we really don’t need the oil from the Mid east for our economy, If you haven’t noticed a lot of people are driving Pris’s now. So $6 a gallon gas will just move more people to conserve. Yeah it may take a few months for most Americans to adjust but big whop. As jobs like trucking and the oil and gas industry are wiped out others will eventually rise up to take their place. We have gotten use to “next day deliveries” when this too is just a waste of the earths resources. This should all happen within a 10-15 year window. So only one generation of Americans will be hurt, but mankind and the eco system will be far better off in the long run.
    Gene the new Democrat from Pennsylvania.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — November 7, 2006 @ 10:03 am - November 7, 2006

  11. Web Reconnaissance for 11/07/2006…

    A short recon of what?s out there that might draw your attention….

    Trackback by The Thunder Run — November 7, 2006 @ 10:16 am - November 7, 2006

  12. #2 – Gene, right on the money. And I noticed that Insane And Nauseating didn’t respond to your query about “It’s great to live in this country. I wish you agreed.”

    In this case, silence is not assent. I don’t believe that he finds this country great or is glad to be here than, say, Chad or Lebanon.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — November 7, 2006 @ 12:45 pm - November 7, 2006

  13. Who are Chad or Lebannon? Is that raj with yet another handle??

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 7, 2006 @ 1:31 pm - November 7, 2006

  14. Because the issues that unite us as Republicans are the same issues that unite the vast majority of Americans: a commitment to winning the war on terror; a core belief in fiscal conservatism; and a faith in individual freedom. Advancing these principles, while staying on offense, can help keep the GOP a strong majority party in the United States.

    Thats so funny, if it weren’t sooo sad! Winning the war on terror..? What does that mean..? Terror has been around for 100’s of yrs…where’s the terro home base? Do they wear uniforms to recognize them? How man of OUR RIGHTS do we have to give up to win this so-called war??? Fiscal conservatives? Waaaaa? Maybe the Repubs of the past..but NOT this batch by far? You must be dreaming! Individual freedom? lol (unless your gay) With this brand of GOP now in ofc..we might as well say “Ta Ta” to the Republic now!

    Comment by Sad American — November 7, 2006 @ 3:25 pm - November 7, 2006

  15. #13 – I meant the COUNTRIES of Chad or Lebanon.

    Sorry if I sounded, well, like lester or keogh. You know, confusing and all. It’s not something that I do often.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — November 7, 2006 @ 5:18 pm - November 7, 2006

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