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.

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