Monday, November 01, 2010

Vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does. And here' s why it's not over until it's over.

Vote As If Your Life Depends On It. Because It Does.
In case you're thinking there's no point because it's hopeless and the good guys (and gals) are gonna get hammered on election day, here are some alternative scenarios to help you get out of bed in the morning and go to the polls and send a message that democracy is not for sale.

First, there are Nate Silver's 5 Reasons Democrats Could Beat the Polls and Hold the House from his Five ThirtyEight New York Times polling blog, which has been predicting for weeks that Republicans are likely to win control of the House of Representatives. Silver considers some reasons -- not likely, but possible -- that this might not happen after all. They mostly involve systemic polling error and include:
1. The cellphone effect.
2. The ‘robopoll’ effect.
3. Some likely voter models, particularly Gallup’s, may “crowd out” Democratic voters.
4. Democrats probably have better turnout operations.
5. The consensus view of Democratic doom is not on such sound footing as it seems.
Silver's discussion of these points makes for interesting reading. Check it out here. Again he's not saying the Democrats won't lose seats. And he's not saying they're likely to hold the House. But he's saying it's possible they will. Turnout will play a big part in determining the outcome.

Then there's the question, which election are we comparing this to, anyhow? The media have been full of stories about comparisons to 1994, the first midterm election of the Clinton presidency, the one in which Newt Gingrich rode a wave of voter backlash to control of the House with the help of a group of entering freshmen even more rigidly right-wing than he was. But why 1994?

Some observers say 1934 is a much better comparison. The nation was in a Depression that started on a Republican administration's watch, FDR seemed overwhelmed and uncertain, and Republicans were clamoring for more of the same policies -- budget cuts, tax cuts for the rich, less regulation, etc. -- that had brought on the Depression in the first place. People were suffering, and they were angry. But who were they angry at? Not Roosevelt, it turned out. Although the Democrats had feared losing seats in Congress, they scored the biggest midterm election victory ever. Michael J. Wilson recalled this history recently in Huffington Post.
We can look back to history for guidance on the message and results for the 2010 election. But looking back only to 1994 is a striking misread of history, and leads back to 1929 thinking.
Again, it all depends on turnout.

Here in Wisconsin, there's only one way a rich manufacturer and political neophyte who has been drinking too much tea and thinks sunspots are melting the polar icecaps can defeat Russ Feingold, one of the great progressive voices in the U.S. Senate. That's if the people who know better stay home. There's a time and a place to be a couch potato, but this isn't it.


Anthony Thompson said...

So true, Peter! Boxer and Feingold: I would mourn if either were defeated. Both are progressive and independaent thinkers!

Joaquin said...

My life depends on this election? Really?!!