Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The battle for control of the US Senate

Sorry, Dr. Alameel, you won't be mentioned in this post, or in any conversations going forward about the topic.

Many pundits, politicos, and prognosticators are giving the edge to the GOP for a flip this fall in the Congress' upper chamber.  I'm not one of them, and not for partisan reasons.  I have believed for some time now that there is some amount of unmeasured, unpolled support for candidates across the country who favor actual progressive populism, including women's issues such as reproductive choice and raises in the minimum wage, not to mention the revulsion of the policies and conduct of Republicans in general and Tea Party Republicans in particular.  And I also think that female candidates are somewhat uniquely positioned to take advantage of that.  And I have two recent data points that support this premise.

-- The first is the result from yesterday's Georgia Republican Senate primary, where former Dollar General Store chief David Perdue vanquished Rep. Jack Kingston for the right to face Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in November's contest to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Despite Kingston having the stamp of approval from the Tea Party and the US Chamber of Commerce (the most disparate of bedfellows among conservative factions) and the fact that nearly all polling showed Kingston leading comfortably -- the last one taken just a week ago gave him a widening 7-point margin -- Perdue prevailed by a slim 51-49 margin.  (That's still Eric Cantor-ish.)  And Perdue won despite declaring his support for tax increases, in the home stretch of the GOP primary two months ago, a fact his conservative opponents repeatedly hammered him with in both the primary and runoff campaigns.

Even Digby thought that Perdue was dead after that.

This is more than the usual significant: a Republican candidate deviated sharply from longstanding Republican orthodoxy, and finished first in a crowded primary and then won his runoff.  In Georgia.

Perdue's autumn opponent, Nunn, also a relative of previous Peach State electeds, currently holds a 5-6 point lead in the recent polls.  In Georgia.

Are Republicans really in this much trouble in their bid to take back the US Senate?  Well, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell certainly is, and his challenger, Allison Grimes, seems well-positioned for the shades-of-Tom-Daschle upset.  And we could go on from there about female Democrats -- and male ones too -- either holding their own in unlikely places or showing uncharacteristic strength in their races.

-- The second data point comes from a source I am usually in vehement disagreement with: a pair of very establishment Democrats who are among the highest paid consultants in the nation.

Look at the most competitive US Senate seats up for grabs in 2014, and you might be surprised that they are, in fact, competitive.

Of the 12 states in which there is so far no likely winner, eight are traditionally conservative. Mitt Romney won those states in 2012 – six by double digits.

But according to Democracy Corps, a political nonprofit formed by Democratic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg in 1999, their polling indicates that the Democratic candidates are not that far behind.

The group points to what it says is a spillover effect of the House GOP’s record-low favorability rating as the main reason that the Democratic Senate candidates in the 12 states are within striking distance.

And the group has advice for how the Democratic candidates can close the remaining gap with their opponents: Rebrand their message to unmarried women, an undermobilized electorate.

“Unmarried women comprise about a quarter of the electorate, so they have a lot of sway in terms of determining who is and who is not elected,” says Page Gardner, founder and president of the nonprofit Voter Participation Center, a research-driven non-profit seeking to increase the political participation of historically under-represented groups. According to Ms. Gardner, the changing views of women in the 12 states result in significant shifts in polling results.

Read on there.

It's accurate to point out that this same demographic is the low-hanging fruit for the Wendy Davis campaign, and she will certainly harvest it.  I have previously underscored my concerns about her actions that degrade critical electoral support among Latinos, however, and Texas is still Texas and not Georgia.  Unless I am gravely mistaken -- always a possibility, and I would be delighted to be wrong about this -- she has already committed a fatal error by lining up alongside our Full Metal Jackass governor on the border.

Even as Greg Abbott demonstrates new depths of corruption, she is unable to capitalize.

But this post is about the US Senate.  Which, as of today, will very probably remain under Harry Reid's control.  That would be a good thing for Barack Obama, as he would not have to deal with an impeachment proceeding in his final two years in office.  (That doesn't mean the president should keep attending fundraisers as Palestinian civilians are slaughtered, and a humanitarian crisis in South Texas continues.  Optics and all that.)

Now if we could get some vampires to actually crash a Ted Cruz fundraiser at the W library... why, we would have a true moral victory in Texas.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Wonder if Harry Reid will go meddle in Kentucky, speaking of Daschle-like? He just might. He has more cojones than Obama, at a minimum.


Full Metal Jackass ... will add that to AG Strangeabbott and Stinking Anglo Formerly Known As ...


And for Ted Cruz to complain about misogyny? Pots calling kettles black while painting themselves.