Saturday, October 16, 2010

17 Days to Go, My Personal Endorsement

Just A Little Over Two Weeks...
Minor changes this week in what is shaping up to be a pick 'em battle for control of the Senate. We probably won't know for sure who will be in the majority and the minority until election night and beyond.

We have new polling this week in virtually every state. What changes there were last week were modestly favorable to the Democrats, with the projected winner changing in one state, flipping the projected operating control of the Senate to 51-49 from 50-50 a week ago.

Rating Changes:
Illinois -- in what continues to be consistently one of the closest races in the nation, new polling flips the race very slightly in the blue direction as the race rating moves to Slight Lean Hold by a margin of just 0.04%.

Connecticut -- could a massive GOP upset from WWE Exec Linda McMahon be brewing? I'm not calling it yet, but the race is definitely tightening as McMahon has gone on air with ads reminding everyone of Richard Blumenthal's shameful lies about Vietnam service. The race is now a Lean Hold.

Washington -- in the back-and-forth race between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi which has usually shown Murray with a lead but by varying margins over the course of the past two weeks, Murray pulls out to a slightly larger lead. Lean Hold.

Alaska -- at last some new polls in the weirdest race in the nation. Joe Miller still leads but incumbent Republican and longtime Sarah Palin adversary Lisa Murkowski is closing in via write-in (although I continue to wonder if all those poll respondents will actually take the time to write her name in.) Murkowski intends to continue caucusing with the GOP, so this battle is GOP vs. Independent in a technical sense only. Slight Lean Miller, for now.

North Carolina -- I'm not sure the Democrats ever really had a chance at this one except in the very early going. It's tightened just a little and moves down to a Likely Hold, but I'd frankly be shocked if the Democrats found a way to pull this one out.

Ohio -- this once toss-up race is not completely out of the Democrats' reach. Safe Hold.

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

So, this week, we are all still calling for a Democratic operating control of the Senate but by varying margins...from 50 to 52 voting seats.

In the House, our average of averages stands at GOP +7.9%.

My Projection: 202 Democrats, 233 Republicans
Realclearpolitics (splitting toss-ups): 204 Democrats, 231 Republicans
Electionprojection: 203 Democrats, 232 Republicans
Electoral-Vote (splitting toss-ups): 217 Democrats, 218 Republicans

Electoral-Vote has the House very close (although still a GOP control pick-up), whereas the rest of us have the Republicans winning by a fairly substantial margin. I'm marginally predicting the largest Republican majority, although I don't pretend to have less than a 1 seat margin of error.

Jon Runyan for the House
I don't pretend that anyone should particularly care how I vote. I urge everyone to educate themselves about the issues and vote the way that they believe is right. I do, however, always share my personal plan a couple of weeks before the election and share my reasoning, in the hope that my thought process might shed some light on your individual quest for the truth.

For those who have started reading this space recently, they will know that I'm a registered Democrat with a strong Independent streak. I voted for Democrats in the last 3 Presidential elections, but did not support Clinton in 1996. In my moves across the country, I've voted for 2 Republican Senators (John Warner in Virginia and then-Republican Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.) I voted Independent in this past years Governors race, although based on Chris Christie's performance so far, I frankly wish I had voted Republican.

I live in New Jersey's third congressional district, a classic swing district in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Incumbent first term congressman John Adler (D) is a moderate with blue dog fiscal tendencies (he voted for the stimulus but against the health care bill.) Former Eagle lineman Jon Runyan is a committed conservative on both fiscal and social issues.

My decision is based on both macro and micro circumstances.

On a macro level, my view is that the single greatest threat to our country in our massive and growing federal debt. Neither party has presented a credible solution. Democrats seem content to spend away, not touch entitlements and continue to spend heavily on the military in Afghanistan. They are proposing new infrastructure spending and want to extend 75% of the cost of the Bush tax cuts, by extending them for everyone making less than $250,000.

Republicans are no better. No entitlement reform. Higher military spending if anything. 100% of the Bush tax cuts. Empty statements about "cutting waste" ignoring the fact that it is mathematically impossible to balance the budget, maintain entitlements, cut taxes and strength the military at the same time.

My only hope for progress is, frankly, gridlock. A Republican congress unwilling to pass spending bills to a Democratic President. It's not a fool-proof plan for sure, but it worked pretty well in the 1990s.

At the local level, John Adler has run a scummy campaign. His campaign planted a fake "tea-party" candidate on the ballot to attempt to siphon off votes from Runyan. He has run misleading ads about property tax breaks Runyan's family received. He hasn't talked about the issues much and when he has he's sounded like he has no backbone.

Runyan and the Republicans turn my stomach in a lot of ways. Their backwards views on gay rights, immigration and a host of other social issues frankly make me pretty sick. I wasn't sure until very recently what I was going to do in this election, precisely because of those issues. A friend of mine made a point to me that made the decision very clear. He simply said:
"All the social issues you care about don't matter if the country isn't here 50 years from now."

Managing the deficit is a matter of survival for our country, and no, I don't think that is overly dramatic. Our best shot for forcing our government officials to deal with the deficit is a divided government.

Reluctantly, Jon Runyan for Congress.

1 comment:

mw said...

Mssr Snake,
I really enjoyed your post, and as a courtesy wanted to let you know that I linked, excerpted, and commented on it in my latest compilation of divided government writing.

As a committed Dividist, I've been beating this horse on my blog for the last four years. Over that time, I have frequently found myself reluctantly supporting candidates I didn't really agree with (or actively despised) in the hope of securing the moderating benefits of divided government.

To close the loop, I'll also include my comments here - "It worked before, and it can work again. The Rattlesnake is a Democrat doing the right thing by voting Republican to restore divided government. I respect that. For similar reasons, and because there is no reason to trust Republicans more than Democrats, I expect I will be supporting Barack Obama's re-election in 2012 to maintain divided government.