Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mid-terms ??

I have watched, with a certain amount of amusement, as the media and various pundits have predicted a Democratic disaster in the November mid-term elections. Certain factors have shown themselves as “critical” in their eyes including which party is in power, economics, and the mood of the electorate. These factors are stated as though they stand alone on the simple issue of their … name.

The “party in power” theme is supposed to reflect dissatisfaction with incumbents, especially those reflected in polls regarding the Congress. To be horribly over simplistic about poll numbers, if you take a two party system in a roughly evenly divided country that means half the people don’t much like the other party. Throw into that the seriously enthusiastic partisan nature of the divide on at least one side of the body and tempers become a bit more short. That divide means that rhetoric is hotter and progress through “the process” is slower and the public doesn’t care about process and numbers plummet. The caveat that is seldom spoken in election punditry regarding those poll numbers is that they reflect a general sense rather than a specific one. Throw the bums out doesn’t just simply include everybody - the excluded person tends to be “my bum.” The person elected to represent a CD or a State is known to those voters unlike the other persons from other places and voters tend to like their own. I take this theme quite a bit less seriously than a lot of pundits.

Mid-term disasters in relation to “party in power” have their roots in a whole lot of issues beyond simply who has the majority at a given time. One of real factors is the length of time that party has been in power. Democrats took a bath under Bill Clinton, they also had a really extensive history and a pretty high factor of, as best I can describe it, arrogance. The 2006 crunch for the GOP came after a long run both in opposition to the President’s party and as the party of the President and what looked, again, like real arrogance. Being the party of an unpopular (put mildly) President doesn’t create real favors with the electorate.
Economics as an issue has a bunch to do with who is held responsible for a state of the economy and where that state seems to them to be headed. Neither of these are too tightly linked to facts, they are an emotional response to a perceived status. This has a bunch more to do with who you relate with and how you see yourself and them doing than it does with the actual state of the economy. It also has to do with how their information sources treat economic news – or don’t with rhetoric taking its place. Figuring out how people will feel months in advance of November is pretty unrealistic with a moving target like the economy and emotions about it.
Mood is a funny thing and pretty darn capricious. Some of this regards what is actually getting done and even more has to do with perception. Information sources can have a lot to do with that and even more of it can have to do with how the politicians present themselves. Democrats being the party in power and supposedly under threat have fairly recently shown some kind of backbone publicly and the GOP has turned up the crazy but figuring out where that goes is way beyond my predictive powers and I’m damn skeptical of the crystal ball gazers taken seriously by media.

I’ll start taking predictions made about November and maybe even making a bit of guesswork myself after the Primaries are over and when November is in some kind of near future.

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