Tuesday, August 09, 2011


More on the Gallup poll I talked about in the last post, this time from USA Today:

Another "wave" election that could dramatically change the capital's political makeup may be building, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Only 24% of those surveyed say most members of Congress deserve re-election, the lowest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1991. Fifty-six percent say their own representative deserves another term, similar to the levels just before tumultuous elections in 1994, 2006 and 2010 that changed control of the House or Senate....

Yeah, but here's what happened in those years that seems very unlikely to happen in 2012: the out party worked very, very hard to nationalize the campaign and focus it on the party in power's failings. Republicans in '94, Democrats in '06, and the Republican/teabagger/Koch/Fox hydra-headed beast in '10 all ran nationwide against the very notion of the party in power, or at least (in '06) against its most prominent policies.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it's hard to imagine President Obama making the 2012 campaign a campaign primarily against the GOP. He's not going to be Truman in '48 -- instead, he's going to run against some vague idea of D.C. finger-pointing and factional squabbling; he's not going to run on the slogan Vote Democrat because Republicans are horrible. He's going to run as the reasonable man; he and other Democrats might run, in some vague way, against massive entitlement cuts (if they still can do that after the supercommittee process has run its course), and maybe in favor of "balance" going forward, and vague notions of clean energy and education and so on -- but they're unlikely to say Republicans are the problem, and there's no way in hell they're going to have a wave if they don't.

Someday (2014?) Democrats could conceivably have a 2010 of their own -- they could run new candidates promising red-meat progressivism, the way the GOP ran tea-party types promising red-meat conservatism; they could say they know the party lost its way and abandoned core principles, the way the teabaggers did. It would help, of course, if progressive Democrats had had a noise machine for decades spinning out a progressive narrative; it would help if they had a very popular TV channel pumping out 24/7 propaganda throughout the campaign; it would help if billionaire donors wanted to fund such a campaign (though, of course, that would defeat the purpose). None of that is the case. So I'm not holding my breath waiting for a Democratic wave anytime soon.

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