Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Case for Both Sides

How Should You Vote in November?
This November's election is exciting and its impact will be real. Democrats seem sure to lose seats in both houses, but the extent of those losses will have a profound impact on government policy for the next 2 years. There are three plausible scenarios:
(1) Minimal Losses
This scenario would lead to very little effective change versus the status quo. The GOP would still have working filibuster capability in the Senate and moderate Republicans such as Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins would still rule the day in terms of getting legislation through.

Democrats would still set the schedule and the agenda and GOP-backed bills would likely not see the light of day.

So, Republicans would continue to be relegated to slowing down Democratic-backed legislation without much recourse to drive their own agenda.

(2) The GOP Takes the House
This would be huge as it would give operating control of the body from which all tax and spending legislation must originate. House rules would allow the GOP house to pass whatever agenda it chose to and would no doubt set up for a lot of showdowns between the President and Congress over budgets and taxes.

The GOP still couldn't get bills to the President's desk as the DEMs would still control the Senate, but they would have huge leverage in that they could cut off funding from anything already not enacted. They could, for instance, refuse to pass the appropriations bills for various cabinet departments until the President agreed to their demands to extend the Bush tax cuts.

(3) The GOP Takes Both Houses
This would effectively give the GOP full control over the budget, although they would still struggle to get other bills through a Senate, where Democrats would no doubt rediscover their respect for the filibuster. Senate control would also give the GOP a lot more leverage over Presidential appointments including cabinet seats and the Supreme Court.

President Obama would still hold the veto pen, but he really couldn't get anything done without compromise with the GOP. It would be like the second half of Bill Clinton's first term.

So, as you can see, our vote will be significant in November. In that vein, I asked two of my friends, one a Republican and one a Democrat, to list the top 5 reasons why a voter should vote for their party in November. These are obviously generic, not specific to any race, but I think they are still instructive.

Why You Should Vote Republican:
(5) Balance the Power
Let's say, for sake of argument, that you are a fan of the present administration's policies. Are you comfortable with them having their way 100% of the time with no need for compromise? Are you comfortable with how Obamacare was passed? Do you think the Democrats have a real plan to reduce the deficit?

There is a strong argument that the best periods for the country have come during periods of divided control of government. The 1980s and mid-to-late 1990s are the 2 most obvious examples.

Why does divided government work? Because when parties have to compromise, they come up with better solutions.

Wouldn't you like to see critical issues such as the deficit, health care, entitlements, immigration and energy policy decided in a bipartisan manner? Do you really think this will happen if the GOP doesn't control at least some of the power? Wasn't the central tenant of the President's 2008 campaign how he would work across the aisle?

(4) Out of Control Spending
Democrats love to point to the deficits during the Bush Administration as evidence of Republican fiscal irresponsibility. And it is true, President Bush spent too much. Too much on a prescription drug benefit that wasn't paid for. Too much on the continued federal takeover of local schools. Way too much on bailouts and giveaways.

But, make no mistake about it, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have done more damage to our fiscal situation in less than 2 years than George W. Bush did in 8. A stimulus bill that will cost over $1 trillion once accounting for interest that was supposed to keep unemployment under 8% that has, instead, left real unemployment stagnant at almost twice that level. Another $1 trillion health care bill that does nothing to control costs and is paid for by promises of future cuts in Medicare which are both wrong and will never happen. Huge supplemental spending bills loaded with pork. Earmarks continuing to grow, in spite of promises to the contrary. And everywhere you look, promises for more spending.

(3) Taxes You Can't Afford
Since taking office promising not to raise taxes of any kind on anybody making less than $250K, the President and Congress have ALREADY enacted:
* A tripling of the federal tax on cigarettes
* New taxes on employer-provided health care plans, many to lower-middle class hourly workers
* A new tax on sun tanning

With no Republican control in congress, the President and his friends are eager to take up choking taxes on your utility bill, new taxes on business profits that will discourage companies from investing and hiring new workers.

And while we are at it, let's talk about those taxes on the "rich". The President says we can afford to tax the rich because they invest their money rather than spend it.

Exactly where are jobs going to come from if we discourage investment?

(2) Broken Promises
The only way to hold a President accountable for breaking his promises is to vote his party out at the mid-terms. Let's review the President's promises that have been broken (and this is far from a complete list):
* He was going to post all bills online for 5 days before signing them....broken with the first major bill he signed (the so-called stimulus) and he never looked back
* He was not going to appoint lobbyists to administration jobs, yet he has more than any previous administration on record
* He was going to reach across the aisle and break the partisan divide
* He was going to reduce earmarks and veto bills that were packed with pork
* He was going to end income taxes for seniors making less than $50K
* He was going to introduce immigration reform in his first year in office
* He was going to have his health care negotiations on CSPAN

The list goes on and on...can you honestly say that the President has kept his word?

(1) The GOP Is a Better Alternative
Lower taxes, less wasteful government spending, less regulation. Let's let the private sector do what it has always done best...create jobs and innovate and quit getting in the way with cumbersome, expensive and ineffective government programs.

"He Who Governs Least Governs Best"

Why You Should Vote Democratic:
(5) No Return to 2000
You may not love every solution that President Obama has come up with to our nation's problems. But do you really think this is worse than the Bush administration? Do you really want to return to the days of no financial regulation, tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of needed programs for the middle class? Wars with giveaways to Halliburton and ineffective government response to crises from cronies in power?

(4) Real Solutions with No Alternative
Health Care Reform, Immigration, Energy, the Economy. Republicans love to take potshots at the President's solution. But what is their alternative? Can you tell me how the GOP would cover the uninsured? Reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Tackle the deficit? The answer is that they have no answers other than to say "no" to everything the Democrats propose and refusing the negotiate compromises. Do you really want to reward this platform with House and Senate seats?

(3) Scary, Fringe Candidates
Are you in favor of returning to prohibition? Repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Abolishing the federal Department of Education? Eliminating Social Security?

Than you'll love the crop of GOP Senate candidates, because all of those are real, on the record positions held by candidates for Senate this year.

(2) It's a Matter of Priorities
The GOP filibustered extending unemployment benefits during the midst of a recession. They are threatening to hold up middle class tax relief unless the rich get a tax cut too. They have opposed raising the minimum wage, prohibiting health insurance companies from discriminating against those with such "pre-existing conditions" as pregnancy and voted against a bill that would allow contractors who were raped in Iraq from seeking compensation against companies like Halliburton (and I'm not joking!)

Ask yourself...who represents you?

(1) Real Solutions
Health Care Reform, Economic Stimulus, FInancial Reform, Credit Card Reform. Can you think of a 2-year period in your lifetime where the government has done more to protect the average American?

Can you even name 1 bill with as much significance as any of those 4 that was passed during the Bush administration which was 4 times as long?

My Take
Judge for yourself. I'm still undecided. I'm not happy with the Democrats lack of willingness to candidly deal with the deficit but I'm not particularly impressed with the lack of a GOP agenda either. And I am scared of some of the tea-baggers. More on my personal decision later. But above all, please vote.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Election Update, The Watered Down Contract with America, The Democrats Have No Backbone

An Update on November
As expected, polling has picked up a lot post-Labor Day and we we have new polls in 20 Senate races this week. The updated averages are below. Of note, race rating changes are highlighted in blue or red, with blue meaning that the race rating moved from Democratic and red meaning the rating moved more Republican.

Major changes since last week:
(1) Although it is still razor close, Sharron Angle is now leading Harry Reid in our average of averages for the hotly contested seat in Nevada.
(2) Joe Miller appears to be settling in to a more comfortable lead in Alaska, even with Lisa Murkowski running as a write-in candidate. It is worth noting that Murkowski is actually polling ahead of the Democrats, although history makes me suspicious of whether people who poll for a write-in candidate will actually follow through.
(3) The second New York seat, presently held by Kirsten Gillebrand is getting a lot closer, at least according to some polls. One poll last week actually had the spread at 1%, although there was wide variation in the polling and all polls still showed her ahead. Definitely a race to watch going forward.

My Projection: 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, 2 Independents
Realclearpolitics (no toss-ups): 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 2 Independents
Electionprojection: 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 2 Independents
Electoral-Vote: 49 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 1 Independent, 1 Tie

In the House, our average of averages is the generic vote stands at GOP +4.2%, which projects in my model:

My Projection: 223 Republicans, 212 Democrats
Realclearpolitics (splitting toss-ups): 220 Republicans, 215 Democrats
Electionprojection: 218 Republicans, 217 Democrats
Electoral-Vote (splitting toss-ups): 237 Republicans, 198 Democrats

In aggregate, all of the major projection sites are yielding very similar results in Senate projections, net a seat here or there on the very close races. All project Democrats to retain control of the Senate, but with a much reduced majority. Assuming Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman remain in the caucus (which seems highly likely at this point), Democrats would have between 51 and 52 caucus votes. They need 50, with Vice President Biden's tie-breaking, to retain operating control.

In the House, 3 of the sites, including this one, project a narrow Republican takeover, with 218-223 seats. is projecting a stronger GOP majority. Either way, we are looking at a very different House from the one that passed the stimulus bill and health care reform.

The Pledge to America is Weak
The GOP "Pledge to America", released this week really covers very new little ground. The key tenants, as I can see them are:
(1) Repealing Obamacare
(2) Extending all of the Bush tax cuts
(3) Freezing all spending at pre-stimulus, pre-TARP levels, excluding military, veterans, social security and medicare
(4) Attacking the federal deficit

Okay, a few problems here. There is a legitimate debate to be had about the size of government and the associated taxes and how we should balance the budget (what combination of spending cuts and tax increases.) But the GOP "plan", as published CAN'T work. Why? Because item #3 effectively puts 70% of the federal budget off limits. Combined with #2, you would need negative spending on all other spending in order to balance the budget.

Simply put, it is IMPOSSIBLE to balance the budget while simultaneously extending the Bush tax cuts and not touching entitlements or defense.

I wish, instead, that the GOP had put forward credible plans to reform entitlements. Clearly, the GOP philosophy is not going to allow them to promote some of the solutions that I have proposed in this space, such as lifting the cap on Social Security taxes. However, there are things that are aligned with GOP core values that would help to solve the budget issue such as:
(1) Raising the retirement age for both Social Security and Medicare to 70 over time
(2) Indexing Social Security payouts to inflation instead of wage growth

These would be great ideas over which to have a debate. But we aren't having the debate. Neither party is proposing credible deficit reduction proposals because they are scared to death of going after either seniors or military spending. And that is a shame, because this is a debate we need to have.

Spineless Democrats
They have punted on the budget until after the election. Now, they are punting on the debate over the Bush tax cuts until after the election. If you are too petrified to take the Republicans on about taxes for those making over $250K per year, then you probably deserve to lose the election, because you clearly don't have the courage of your convictions.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Correction on Senate Tracker

It has been brought to my attention by a reader that the first edition of the Senate Tracker contained an error pertaining to the North Dakota race. While the spread was reflecting correctly (very strong GOP positioning), it was incorrectly classified as a "Safe Hold" instead of a "Safe GOP Pick-Up" as it should have been. My previous projections had correctly listed the race as a "Safe GOP Pick-Up".

My corrected projection is 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans and 2 Independents.

I apologize for the error, which will be corrected in my next publish.

Obama Approval: More of the Same, Is Alaska In Play?

Obama Continues to Slide
Absent one month where his numbers were flat month on month (September 2009) and one month where he posted an approval increase (May 2010), it has been a slow, steady decline in President Obama's numbers, and the past month has been no different. His decline is interesting, as it does not appear to be driven by finite events (such as a scandal or particular issue), but more a slow decline as people increasingly become disappointed with the government response to the recession, it's treatment of the deficit, the tone in Washington, or whatever else is on people's minds this year.

His numbers for September show him as modestly unpopular, not as bad as in the media, but far more concerning than the absolute numbers is the continued trend. His numbers show no signs of upward movement and continued decline makes his bully pulpit smaller and smaller.

Democrat in Alaska?
Could Democrats actually win in Alaska? With Tea Partier Joe Miller as their nominee and Lisa Murkowski running as a write-in, it's certainly possible...

Friday, September 17, 2010

2010 Senate Tracker -- Edition 1

Edition 1.0 of my statistical tracker shows the GOP poised to take 6 seats from the Democrats (4 to 8, depending on the very close races), in line with most of my recent non-statistical projections, but with some obvious race rating changes. Harry Reid is back in the lead and Patty Murray has re-established her position. Meanwhile, Alaska has tightened up a great deal, thanks to Joe Miller's win, and Delaware is back in the DEM column, thanks to Christine O'Donnell's Tea Party Express ride to the nomination over Mike Castle.

Note that with the bad news in Delaware, the GOP would now not only need to win the two close races in which I am showing them trailing (California and Nevada), they would also need to take 2 out of the other 3 Democratic leaners (West Virginia, Connecticut and Washington.) Quite tough, but not completely impossible in a year like this.

In many of the races, we don't yet have the polling depth that I would like, as some races are presently covered by only one or two polling firms, lessening the capability of my averaging methods to smooth out sample error or bias. Having said this, I think this is a pretty accurate picture of the November election as it stands today.

In the House, I'm still projecting a GOP takeover at this point, with the generic polling average of averages at GOP +5.5%, yielding a projection for the new House of:
Republicans - 227, Democrats - 208

Other current averages for both the House and Senate: (toss-ups split evenly)
House: 224 Republicans, 211 Democrats
Senate: 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 2 Independents (does not designate toss-ups)
House: 218 Democrats, 217 Republicans
Senate: 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 2 Independents (toss-ups split evenly)
House: 235 Democrats, 200 Republicans
Senate: 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, 2 Independents

Correction: I had declared Tuesday the end of primary season, but there is actually a primary in Hawaii on Saturday. It is not one of much significance.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Last Primaries on Deck...Another Tea Party Shocker in the Brewing? Our Tracking System for 2010

Exciting Primaries to the End
Tomorrow marks the end of the primary season in the 2010 and Wednesday the unofficial start of the general election campaign (although obviously, the parties have been jostling for position for months if not years already), with primaries in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Of these races, by far the most interesting is in Delaware, where Tea Party activists are once again trying to upstage an established Republican moderate. The GOP party establishment has to be somewhat worried, as moderate Rep. Mike Castle (R) was as close to a cinch to win the general election as a Republican can get in blue Delaware, holding double digit leads against the Democrats. Christine O'Donnell and the Tea Party had different ideas, however and we could have a huge upset brewing against the long-established and well respected Castle, with O'Donnell showing a narrow 3 point lead in the only poll available in the race (a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic Polling firm whose numbers I normally do not use in my averages, but who, as the only poll available here, warrants some attention) and all the enthusiasm on their side. O'Donnell, if she wins, will be a tough sell in Delaware and is currently polling behind in the general.

In New Hampshire, establishment Republican Attorney General Kelly Ayotte is still the front-runner in a 4-way race, leading by 3-7 points in recent polling, but Tea Partier Ovide Lamontagne, currently running second in polls, has an outside chance at the upset. An upset by Lamontagne would put the race, currently tilting Republican, at least back to a toss-up and probably to a slight Democratic advantage, although a Tea Partier certainly would have a better chance in purplish New Hampshire than in Delaware.

My Guide to the General
Starting approximately this weekend, once all the primaries are settled, I'll be publishing the spreads based on the aggregation of polling. In the interest of full transparency, here are my basic rules for how I will calculate the averages:

(1) Only reputable, non-partisan polls will be used. Partisan-affiliated firms, such as Public Policy Polling and Strategic Vision will be excluded. Reputable polls include such firms as Gallup, Rasmussen, Survey USA, Research 2000, etc.

(2) The polls used for averaging will be as follows:
a. If there have been at least 3 qualifying polls in the past week, the lesser of all the polls from the current week or the 5 most recent polls will be used. More than 5 polls will be used only if polls are tied for being most recent.

b. If there are less than 3 qualifying polls in the past week, the 3 most recent polls in total will be used, including polls up to 3 weeks old.

c. If there are not 3 qualifying polls in the past 3 weeks, all polls from the past 3 weeks will be used, along with older polls. The polls older than 3 weeks will have an adjustment factor applied based on either the movement of other polls during that time period (if data are available) or the movement of generic polling data nationally (if race specific data are not available.)

(3) Averaging Methodology
Three methodologies will be employed for the qualifying polls used.
a. Simple mean -- the unweighted average of all polls
b. Simple median -- the median reading of all polls used (the middle value, or in the case of an even number of qualifying polls, a simple average of the two middle values)
c. Sample-Weighted Average -- the average of all polls, weighted based on sample size. For instance, a poll of 1,000 voters would receive twice the weight as a poll of 500 voters.

The simple mean of methods a, b and c will constitute the "average of averages" that I will use for race determination.

(4) Rating Denotations:
Note: I will be eliminating the "Toss-Up" category, as has been my habit, now that we have moved to the statistical projections.
0 -5 points = "Slight Lean"
5 -10 points = "Lean"
10 - 20 points = "Likely"
20+ Points = "Safe"

The categories don't mean as much, now that we are moving into mathematical models...the difference between a 4.9% lead and a 5.1% lead is arbitrary.

My methodology sounds very complex, but I've done a lot of modeling that substantiates the three averages. The sample-weighted average is the most scientific method, but using the median and simple mean help to counterbalance the disproportionate impact that one outlier poll can have on the race. In the 2008 Presidential election, this method clearly outperformed either of the averaging methods used by itself.

I welcome your feedback on the methodology or any suggestions for improvement.

First projections, approximately this weekend.

Get ready for game time, boys and girls.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust in Alaska, The Pre-Season View of the Elections, What You Can Expect the Wednesday After

The Tea Party Breaks Another Establishment Republican
I'll admit it, this one caught me surprise. Lisa Murkowski wasn't even on the radar for being at risk of losing her Senate seat in the Alaska Republican primary. Yet virtual unknown Tea Bagger Joe Miller pulled off a narrow but stunning upset. This shows a few things, in my opinion:
(1) The Tea Party is becoming the overriding force in Republican primaries in some states
In Utah, Kentucky, Nevada and Alaska, Tea Party loyalists upset establishment-backed candidates to take Senate nominations. In Florida, while Marco Rubio is not exactly a Tea Bagger, the movement certainly had an influence in pushing Crist out of the Republican race.

(2) But Let's Not Overstate the Case
The Tea-Party candidates have lost where the establishment had good candidates. They couldn't defeat Mark Kirk in Illinois. The didn't even come close to unseating John McCain. In Delaware, Castle won the GOP nomination virtually unopposed, despite basically being the antithesis of a Tea Party Republican.

The movement is evolving in an attempt to be more mainstream, but my fundamental belief that this is a fringe movement is unchanged. They still have yet to win a general election race, with disasters in the House special elections where they have taken over the GOP base. They still have only one shot at winning a Senate seat in a mainstream race, the battle for Harry Reid's seat in Nevada, and victory is far from assured there. Even in the ultra-conservative states where they are winning nominations, such as Kentucky, the seats are not a lock.

(3) If the Tea-Party Wins, the GOP Loses Long-Term
In a Republican year, you can run candidates that are further to the right and potentially still be victorious. But things change quickly in Washington. Remember all that talk of the permanent Democratic majority? Yeah, that's so 18 months ago. In a more balanced year, Tea Party Republicans will have big challenges holding on to GOP gains. The Republican party would have been better served to get more Castles and less Pauls if they want to make more permanent gains.

(4) The Underlying Cause Has Traction
As radical as a lot of the Tea Party movement is, the fundamental concern about deficits, taxes and the size of government has real traction and resonance with the American people. When deficits rise, people get mad at Washington. This is a lot like Ross Perot's movement in 1992, which ultimately netted him 19% of the Presidential vote, and might have netted him more if he'd been a better candidate.

But United We Stand faded quickly, as I would expect the Tea Party to do, because as the economy improves, the anger subsides.

This all makes for a fascinating election year.

An Updated Looked at November
The traditional view of elections is that campaigns really start in earnest on Labor Day. People start to tune in, debates begin and media buys pick way up. That being said, campaigns have been starting earlier and earlier, so we already have some good perspective on where the races stand heading into this critical season. Let's look at the latest.

We'll go race by race, from most Democratic-leaning to most Republican-leaning.
Safe Democratic Holds (4)
Hawaii, no new polls
Maryland, 1 new poll: Mikulski +16%
New York (Schumer), no new polls
Vermont, no new polls

Likely Democratic Holds (4)
Oregon, 1 new poll: Wyden +20%
Connecticut, 2 new polls: Blumenthal +7%, +10% (close to moving from likely to lean)
New York (Gillebrand), 3 new polls: Gillebrand +15%, 20%, 25%
West Virginia, 1 new poll: Manchin +6% (close to moving from likely to lean)

Lean Democratic Holds (2)
California, 2 new polls: Boxer +5%, Fiornia +2% (close to moving to toss-up)
RATING CHANGE (from Toss-Up to Lean Hold): Nevada, 3 new polls: Reid +1%, 3%, 4%

Democratic Controlled Toss-Ups (2)
Wisconsin, 1 new poll: Johnson +1%
Illinois, 2 new polls: both polls tied

Republican Controlled Toss-Ups (1)
RATING CHANGE (from Lean Ind Pick-Up to Toss-Up): Florida, 4 new polls: Crist, +4%, +7%, Rubio +5%, +10%

Lean GOP Pick-Up (3)
Colorado, 2 new polls: Buck +4%, +9%
Pennsylvania, 3 new polls: Toomey +6%, +9%, +10%
RATING CHANGE (from Lean Hold to Lean Pick-Up): Washington, 2 new polls: Rossi +3%, +7%

Lean GOP Hold (6)
Missouri, 2 new polls: Blunt +1%, +13%
Kentucky, 3 new polls: Paul +5%, +5%, +10%
New Hampshire, 2 new polls: Ayotte +8%, +13% (close to moving back to likely hold)
RATING CHANGE (from likely hold to lean hold): North Carolina, 1 new poll: Burr +9%
RATING CHANGE (from likely hold to lean hold): Alaska, 1 new poll: Miller +6%
RATING CHANGE (from toss-up to lean hold): Ohio, 2 new polls: Portman +6%, +7%

LIkely GOP PIck-Ups (2)
Delaware, 1 new poll: Castle +12%
Indiana, 1 new poll: Coats +21%

Likely GOP Holds (2)
Georgia, 1 new poll: Isakson +12%
RATING CHANGE (from Safe Hold to Likely Hold): Iowa, 2 new polls: Grassley +8%, +20%

Safe GOP Pick-Ups (2)
Arkansas, 1 new poll: Boozman +38%
North Dakota, 1 new poll: Hoeven +44%

Safe GOP Holds (8)
Kansas, 2 new polls: Moran +33%, +46%
Louisiana, 2 new polls: Vitter +12%, +21% (close to moving to Likely Hold)
South Dakota, no new polls
Alabama, 1 new poll: Shelby +32%
Idaho, no new polls
Oklahoma, 1 new poll, Coburn +42%
South Carolina, no new polls
Utah, 1 new poll: Lee +25%

All of this leaves us with the following projection ranges for the Senate:
Current Senate: 57 Democrats, 41 Republicans, 2 Independents
Projected Senate: 48-50 Democrats, 47-50 Republicans, 2-3 Independents
Central Projection: 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, 2 Independents

As we move closer into election season, I will be eliminating the "toss-up" rankings and focusing more and more on the strict mathematical projections.

In the House, the latest generic polling paints a very bleak picture for the Democrats, indeed, with some of the worst generic numbers on record in some polls. Our average of averages is presently at: Republicans +5.7%. This implies:

Current House: 255 Democrats, 178 Republicans, 2 Vacant
Projected House: 206 Democrats, 229 Republicans
Realclearpolitics House Projections (splitting the toss-ups): 212 Democrats, 223 Republicans
The Cook Political Repot (splitting the toss-ups): 232 Democrats, 203 Republicans
Electionprojection Projection: 215 Democrats, 220 Republicans

Cook has been the most conservative in calling races all year, as he tends to need a lot of data to be willing to project an incumbent to be unseated. The other 3 tallies all tell the same story, whether you look at national polling and extrapolate (as I do) or do race-by-race analysis (as realclearpolitics and electionprojection do), you get the same story: the GOP has the advantage in taking back the House headed into the heart of campaign season.

What You Can Expect After a GOP Rout
So what exactly will happen if the GOP actually pulls off the kind of big rout that I and others currently show? Let's say they win the House and fall just shy in the Senate with 49 or 50 seats. A few things that I think that you would see fairly quickly:
(1) Some cabinet departures -- President Obama has held his top team together for 2 years, but when you see a big rout of an incumbent party, there tend to be a few changes in the Cabinet, such as when Bush dismissed Donald Rumsfeld. Incumbents don't like to fire their cabinet members during the election season, because it can be a sign of weakness, but after a loss, it happens a lot. Likely candidates? My top one would be TIm Geithner. Can't think of anyone that would be upset with a change at Treasury. Gates has also announced he will likely depart sometime in 2011, but this is unrelated to job performance, as he is highly popular in both parties.
(2) A Quick Search for Common Ground -- if the GOP controls the purse strings in the House, President Obama better figure out something that they can agree on. Middle class tax cuts? Payroll tax holidays? Maybe a revenue-neutral gas tax?
(3) Gridlock -- no immigration reform, no cap and trade....any "signature" issue of the Democrats is DOA in a GOP-controlled House. Depending on your political perspective, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

It certainly is shaping up to be another historic year. Thanks for reading and I'll do my best to keep you posted on all the latest.

Projected New House