Friday, February 08, 2002

Mid-term Prognosis

A good friend from Michigan weighs in on the mid-term election outlook:

"You didn't ask, but -- my view as of now:

In general it seems that the Republicans have a pretty
good chance of holding the House. To summarize:

The three things nominally going AGAINST the GOP are:
(a) history, (b) the economy, and (c) Social Security-health care.

History. The President's party normally loses seats in
elections comparable to the one this year, but that assumes there was at
least some coattail impact on the House in the Presidential election --
ergo, providing space for the pendulum to swing back. Not so in 2000,
except in the sense that the Republicans didn't lose as many seats as they
might have.

Economy. Unless the current situation turns into a
double-dip recession and begins to really impact the middle class (the kind
of folks who actually vote in House elections), the effect should be
muted. (The type of people whom a mild recession effects directly tend to be
both non-voters and residents of CDs which are not contestable.)
There could be some real danger should weakness show up in the general public
perception numbers -- "consumer confidence", for example.

Social Security, Medicare (especially prescription drugs), HMOs.
This still gives the Democrats some leverage (the poll reported
by Roll Call notwithstanding); how much depends on what happens in the
next few months.

The Republicans have some (other) things going FOR them:
(a) off-year demographics, (b) re-apportionment, and (c) (maybe) a
very popular President.

Demographics. The electorate is always more Republican
in off-year elections and I don't see anything about the hotly-contests
gubernatorial & Senate elections that is likely to change that significantly re
the House contests.

Re-Apportionment. With the notable exception of CA, my sense is
the GOP is getting a bit of an edge from the re-districting.

Presidential Popularity. Normally not a big deal in
marginal House seats, but as of now it's so strong a force that
we are in uncharted territory. Of course, I need not tell anyone old
enough to remember "41", that sky-high Presidential poll numbers can turn south in
a big hurry.

As far as I know, there is no marginal House district in Michigan.
Republican Candice Miller (currently Secretary of State) and Democrat Carl
Marlinga (currently Macomb County Prosecutor) will tear each other's hearts
out, throw them on the gound and stomp on them, while all the time
screaming wildly, but at the end of the day Miller should win."