Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Predictions

I’ve been asked to make election predictions. The problem I have that when I participate in pools and such--football, academy awards, etc.--I never pick those I really think will win, but those I’m rooting for. And so I never win, but I always enjoy myself.

Peter’s Republican optimism, given below, makes him more of a faith-based Straussian than I am. But I appreciate his defense of his own against all odds.

I would rather not do this, but I’m going to say what I really think based on the information I really have.

For the Senate: MT, MD, and VA at this point are all Republican long shots. AZ is a Democratic long shot. TN and MO are toss ups. The most likely result if the odds are calculated honestly: D 50/R 50. What would I really bet, given how D this year is: D 51/R 49. If I got good odds or had a couple of glasses of red wine, I would certainly bet on both Steele and Ford: That would return it to 50/50. So I’ll a be a little reckless and say 50/50.


For the House, if you really take the toss-up races and divide them evenly, the Ds would pick up about 25 seats. But they’ll do better than that; the truth is they have the momentum and the intensity, and there really is a blow-out belt in NY, PA, IN, and (yes, Peter) OH. (And as Steve H. notes below, the news from Iraq is very troubling.) So I say (it’s not my hope) the Ds will pick up 32 seats.

As a lover of federalism, my view is that the stats on the distribution of the governors are meaningless. Besides, those races are subject to state-specific factors about which I know little. So I will limit myself to the prediction that the Republican governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, will be reelected.

Discussions - 25 Comments

Readers may be interested in Larry Sabato’s ">">http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/article.php?id=LJS2006110201"> latest.

Steve, Thanks. Larry and I are pretty conventional guys in terms of going with the evidence. He’s more pessimistic on MO and MD than I am, but his arguments are good. On the House, he’s apparently just being a bit more cautious. Going over his list and analysis, I actually think it could be more than 32 for the Ds.

Yes. The Senate will be 50-50, as Santorum, DeWine, Chafee (yeah baby!), Burns, and Allen go down. I am taking Novak’s word for it that Talent will survive, but have serious doubts about this one. Steele will, very unfortunately, come up a little short.
Kean is toast.

We will lose fewer than 20 in the House and could, possibly, maintain the majority. It may prove to the bright spot of the evening.

Governors’ races are important because people live under state governments as much as under the federal government. I cannot be indifferent when a majority in a state, even knowingly -- chooses social liberalism and statism even knowingly, because the (politically) virtuous minority suffers thereby. And of course it is even more dismaying when a non-liberal majority, or enough of them, ignorantly choose a liberal state government. Republicans will lose six governorships: MA, NY, OH, MN, AR, CO.
The only pleasant surprise here: Ehrlich hangs on in MD, thanks to the Steele campaign and the Post endorsement.

I said it before: it’s not the end of the world to have two parties running the country. It curbs the excesses. And it gives you someone to blame if anything goes wrong.

If I have to have Governor predictions, DF is playing the odds in every case, MD is just about a tie in the polls, and MD is the one state when the statewide R candidates have enthusiasm, so Ehrich is the one.

Daniel K. - Good to know that Democrats are, in your book, still part of a legitimate opposition. Otherwise we’d have to arrest them or deport them.

Ehrlich, I meant. And of course, Steve, that it’s corrupting in lots of ways for one party to stay in and the other stay to out of power for too long. A huge no. of Americans believe right now that the Republicans just want to hold on for holding on’s sake, and there’s something to what they think.

Peter - Yes. I’m sorry to say that I was venting with a bit of sarcasm. I had this in mind. In my American politics class, we consider some of Harvey Mansfield’s remarks about partisanship (in his subtle and hilarious little book A Student’s Guide to Political Philosophy) and then we look at the origins of partisanship in America: in the 1790s and especially after the 1800 election. I have the students read part of Hofstadter’s The Idea of Party. In that light, one begins to see the differences between heavy-handed ideology and partisanship.

Ideology sometimes feels the need, it seems, to say "it’s not the end of the world to have two parties running the country."

Just to clarify Steve, I’m a liberal. Further proof that sincerity is hard to distinguish from sarcasm without emoticons. :)

Daniel K - Naturally I feel like a jerk. Our ancestors who wrote letters to one another must have been far better writers than we all are, conveying far better than we the tones and cues that prevented misunderstanding. Thanks for being gentle with my doppiness.

In view of the fact that the Democratic party (official and unofficial) established the system we now live under, I think it’s entirely appropriate to view the Republican party as, relatively speaking, the opposition party -- even though it doesn’t oppose as clearly or consistently, by a long shot as it needs to. In any realistic view of power in American society, majorities in Congress (especially small majorities), even in combination with the White House, are simply the icing on the cake. In my view, they do little more than give us a seat at the table. That’s why the talk about checks and balances, the value of parties alternating in "power," etc., is largely misleading and misdirected.

Wow pretty pessimistic here. Cheer up. In the Senate we lose RI, PA for sure. MT and OH are becoming Republican longshots. VA is a toss-up and MO and TN are leaning ever so slightly Republican. On election day we will win MO, TN, and at least one of VA, MT, and OH. So the Democrats will gain 4 seats.

House we lose, but only slightly

The governors are depressing. I think the analysis is more straightforward here, although I still think Pawlenty will pull through in MN. If he does, he is quite a star and will be on the 08 ticket.

David Frisk - I suppose this is off the point of Peter’s original post, but I see what you mean. Your idea I associate with Sid Milkis (see his book "The President and the Parties"): FDR’s ambition, in the end, was to create an "administrative state" relatively immune from the existing parties. Reagan confronted it head-on, with, to be sure, quite limited effect. Bush has chosen a different strategy: continued party-building (the better to prepare a final assault), while leaving policy and the budget relatively untouched (stressing instead throwing bones to the base). If this analysis is right, then at stake on Tuesday is whether that strategy has succeeded; whether the Republican "opposition" (the quotes call attention to the irony of the Republicans’ current control of Congress) can break the continued hold of liberalism on "the system." As a Democrat, I am betting not. At the same time, like Milkis I can see the defects in FDR’s achievement (which makes me an unreliable liberal, I suppose).

P.S. - One implication of Milkis: not all Democrats are either liberal or conservative. American political history offers hints of an alternative, and Milkis follows the late Carey McWilliams in trying to keep it alive. McWilliams liked to point to the Anti-Federalists and to Toqueville’s political associations, among others, as confreres: here’s a regulative principle, if not a constitutive principle, of a decent politics.

Yes, Tocqueville,.

How many McWilliams Democrats (socially conservative, even Puritanical; pro-life; pro-Vietnam War and at least against any implication of cutting and running in Iraq; yet "Old Democratic" (=roughly Gephardt, anti-oligarchic) are there? Let me know. I might vote for one.

Peter - Alas, this is a vision; it never was a party, and my guess is McWilliams often felt politically homeless in his unrequited loyalty. I do not think of it as "Puritanical" (though Carey was a Calvinist). It is a partisanship capable of nurturing bipartisan friendships out of a deep understanding and love of this country, felt in common among political foes.

How many are there? Not many, which means the country is in trouble. Sometimes they’re Republicans!

Nobody, even Tocqueville, has talked up our Puritans better than Carey.

Peter - Yes, I know. I was reacting to the ordinary connotations of the word "Puritanical."

Post #13 is very interesting, thanks Steve...as for #14, I’ll have to ask Sid sometime if he’s really a McWilliams Dem.

With Peter leading the way, providing the exemplary emancipatory lead: Shameless self-promotion: in the next issue of Perspectives on Political Science, I have have an article on McWilliams on the Puritans. (The issue is a festschrift devoted to Carey’s thought.)
Carl, talk with RR about Milkis’s misunderstanding of and antipathy toward Tocqueville. Carey, however, employed Tocqueville-epigrams for 16 (I believe) of the twenty chapters of his magnum opus, The Idea of Fraternity. For that and other reasons, I doubt that SM is anything approaching a McWilliams Democrat (but we’ve established that that’s a rare specimen to begin with.)

13: Steve Thomas, I think FDR was quite successful in redefining American politics for the rest of the century and -- to most appearances, anyway -- well beyond that. Michael Barone has some interesting points when he says that the FDR-era and postwar-era "big unit America" has given way to a more Tocquevillian society. But it’s a difference in degree, not in kind. When the Baby Boomers start retiring, we’ll have a large augmentation in the already huge population of tax eaters. Most Americans do like the idea of limited government. But that doesn’t have much cash value, so to speak, if they don’t also like the practice of limited government. And most apparently don’t.

This is a fascinating thread. You have judiciously chosen not to discuss the election’s outcome! Thanks. The whole next issue of PPS is on McWilliams, and Paul’s essay really is great.

A quick survey of polls and such reveals more pro-D news. Kyl is down 4% in early voting in AZ, according to a poll. And several more House seats now lean D. On the other hand, Corker seems to be pulling away a little.

Kyle is down according to an exit poll? OH WOE IS US!!!

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