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Managing (Electoral) Expectations

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:40 am - November 2, 2010.
Filed under: 2010 Elections

Perhaps the biggest thing Democrats learned from Obama is that when you have high hopes, you often end up sorely disappointed.  Perhaps, the liberal Democrats with whom American-born British commentator Janet Daley spoke in New York, would be less despondent today had their expectations not been so high two years ago.

Via Facebook, I recently e-mailed some Republican friends this article on the various prognosticators’ predictions of Republican gains in 1994.  Most forecast about 25.  Republicans won 54.  Now, most are predicting Republicans will pick up about that many.  “You do the math,” I quipped.  Earlier today, Bruce linked two polls suggesting an even bigger blowout than those, who failed to anticipate the size of GOP save, in 1994, anticipate this year.

And while I’m predicting the GOP picks up 63-67 seats, while wondering if that number is “too conservative“, I urge a little bit of caution, not because I’m not optimistic, but because, well, I want to avoid disappointment.  What if the Republicans “only” won 45 seats?  The media could use that figure to spin the election a not really a Republican rout because Republican candidates underperformed expectations.

Last week, Jim Geraghty noted how the Washington Post‘s David Broder was preparing to dismiss GOP gains of 5o seats.

I am optimistic about today’s contests, but am trying to temper my optimism, so that I’m not too disappointed if we don’t pick the 70-seats that Geraghty anticipates.  And if we do win that many seats, well, then so much more to celebrate.  Unanticipated pleasures are often far sweeter than anticipated ones.

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11 Comments

  1. Perspective, Dan. After the 2008 elections, the Obamacrats were confident they were going to push their gains even further. They were confident of picking off Republican senate seats in NH, NC, OH, FL, KY, and LA. Certain trolls told us we were in for a long decade of Democrat domination. And now, look where they are; trying desperately to save Boxer and Reid.

    And we tried to warn them. We told them, people don’t like this health care plan, people don’t like these bailouts, people don’t like this massive expansion of Government. But they wouldn’t listen. The only Democrat who has any traction is Manchin in West Virginia whose entire campaign is based on pretending he now hates everything he used to support as a Democrat.

    BTW, those same warnings apply to any Republican elected today; if you don’t listen to the people and try and govern against our will, you’re gone, too.

    Comment by V the K — November 2, 2010 @ 5:33 am - November 2, 2010

  2. “If it’s not close, they can’t steal it.”
    Well, we’ll soon find out what “close” means these days.

    Comment by Bill G. — November 2, 2010 @ 7:33 am - November 2, 2010

  3. Another race to watch is Massachusetts Governor. “Coupe” Deval Patrick is the Obama prototype, a charismatic ultra-liberal African-American governor elected on a Democrat wave. He is generally favored for re-election because of a split opposition. If he goes down, though, it could be a clue to defeating Obama in 2012.

    Comment by V the K — November 2, 2010 @ 8:04 am - November 2, 2010

  4. If they win 40 and takeover the House that to me keeps me happy, EVERYTHING after that is icing on the cake 🙂

    Comment by JadedByPolitcs — November 2, 2010 @ 8:41 am - November 2, 2010

  5. Points well taken, but it’s also worth managing expectations for post-election matters too! 🙂

    Comment by HeartbreakRidge — November 2, 2010 @ 9:02 am - November 2, 2010

  6. VtheK is right- this is a vote to change the way politics is done in Washington DC. When the R’s get in there, they had better remember why they’re there, and who put them there!

    Comment by Trish — November 2, 2010 @ 10:22 am - November 2, 2010

  7. I would like to see a clear majority for Republicans in the House of Representatives. If Democrats are kept below 200 members in that chamber, I will be estatic. I would also like to see Republicans battle to at least a tie in the Senate, but would be most happy if that chamber also has a Republican majority. A win for Christine O’Donnell in Delaware is my special prayer today. The way that she has been treated by the media, her own Republican party, and the DemoRats (because that’s what they are anymore) angered me, and I hope many in Delaware feel the same way about that, and vote for her as a message to the establishment.

    Comment by nomobama — November 2, 2010 @ 11:22 am - November 2, 2010

  8. Dan, managing expectations is -at best- and inside the ballpark game that seasoned, tested political animals do as a predicate to the bigger and far more important role of governing, versus campaigning. Most people don’t really care about it.

    Despite what gets discussed in some quarters, this election isn’t about “Democrats losing rather than GOPers winning”… that’s nonsense. The GOP will be the winners on E-Day 10 and that will set the table for a JimmyCarter’ish upset on E-Day 12. Obama will be castrated and American liberalism will struggle for 2 yrs to understand how they screwed up one of the greatest opportunities in American politics.

    The biggest news in this election is that the TP movement didn’t become a 3rd, divisive political party of spoilers. It got managed properly and contributed in a united fashion to a GOP win of staggering import. It won’t be going away –it’s influence will be felt in 2012 throughout the Nation. But it isn’t a 3rd party and that’s a huge win for the GOP.

    I agree that the GOP has to deliver on cutting govt, cutting spending, stop any tax increases, keep Americans safe and preserve a greater promise of liberty for all rather than more enslavement and greater reliance on govt. We can’t do the Contract ’94 thing again and simply deliver greater transparency or higher ethical standard to Congress… those have to givens, not accomplishments to grandstand upon in 2012.

    Each of those 5-7 items are core GOP values to begin with –and have been for generations. The GOP needs to NOT get sidetracked on divisive social issues like Terry Schiavo, English Only or gay marriage and legalizing dope.

    I have little doubt that Obama will be willing to amend his ways and help harness the energy and message of this election into positive constructive change. I think he’ll become the “President of No” as the GOP majority in the House works with a coalition in the Senate to get the Prez to ink-up his veto pen, rather than to man-up and control his pride and arrogance and change his ways.

    Making Obama a 1 termer, consolidating political gains in state and federal elections, redrawing political boundaries and advancing a strong conservative fiscal agenda are all compatible action items. Nancy Pelosi and Teddy Kennedy and Hillary Clinton use to be fond of spinning their agenda as “doing the People’s business”… the GOP needs to get busy doing the taxpayers’ and voters’ business –because that’s where we’ll be judged either as failures or success on E Day 2012. Just like E Day 2010.

    Let the political animals inside the beltway chatter about managing expectations… the GOP has to manage success. And that’s a great opportunity for America.

    Comment by Michigan_Matt — November 2, 2010 @ 12:22 pm - November 2, 2010

  9. Well when you have your soon to be speaker talk about 100 seats in play, and you only get 40 or 50, it does leave open the question could we have do better?

    Republicans have played in this expectations game and it might may bite them in the ass. If they don’t perform at least as good as the predictions, then all these questions will begin to fly. “What went wrong, did they go too extreme? How could they not take the house?” So on.

    Managing expectations is almost as important as winning, 08 primary showed me that.

    Comment by darkeyedresolve — November 2, 2010 @ 1:33 pm - November 2, 2010

  10. Dark eye…..dude where you been?

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — November 2, 2010 @ 3:01 pm - November 2, 2010

  11. Working mostly, and its football season, so I like to focus on that. Even if my teams are not doing all that well…but elections are fun, so why not drop by for a bit. And I talk to Dan enough, so I’m in the loop of thing.

    Unless you are being more sarcastic, since text doesn’t give tone, I’ll just ignore it.

    Comment by darkeyedresolve — November 2, 2010 @ 3:07 pm - November 2, 2010

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