Sunday, October 26, 2014

Polls 1 Issues 0

The Republicans are surging on the prediction markets, leading pundits to write that the Senate races are all but over.

But Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, now has a 3 point lead in the latest poll for the Georgia Senate race.

President Obama, though, seems to be a real drag on Democratic candidates who are running from him as fast as they ran to him in 2012.

Meanwhile, an internal Democratic poll has Mark Udall in the lad in the Colorado Senate race, while a Republican polling firm shows Democrat Mark Begich up 10 points in Alaska.

With just over a week to go until election day, it's still anyone's Senate and don't let anyone tell you differently. New polls contradict old polls and wild swings in some states are showing that trying to gauge public attitudes is not for the feint of heart.

What we're missing, though, are issues. Yes, state races do tend to be won or lost on state concerns, but after four years of bashing President Obama you'd think the Republicans would run on something positive and the Democrats would run on the legislation they were elected to pass. There are some exceptions, such as this Representative in Florida who is running on environmental concerns by framing them in terms of clean water and flood control,  but mostly GOP candidates are running on governmental ineptitude regarding Ebola and ISIS, and Democrats are running on...well, that's even more difficult to determine since most are running away from health care, the environment, financial reform and guns.

Poll after poll shows the voters supporting what Democrats generally support and give Republicans lower ratings on governing, but that doesn't seem to matter. A few Senate incumbents will lose, but 96% of House members will be reelected. So much for throwing out the gridlockers.

And for those of you who need a history lesson, Bill Clinton is here to tell us that partisanship was worse in the 1990s, but that he and Newt got some things done. And Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill got even more done while sniping at each other all day, then sipping scotch and swapping stories come 5 o'clock. I can't help but think that the real difference between then and now is that we've elected a bunch of entitled, wealthy, spoiled brats to the Congress and that once we get some real adults in there we'll start moving some legislation.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Real Scare

Ain't nobody does scary like the Republicans. Even Democrats, who've been scaring the elderly for years saying that the GOP would cut their Medicare, can't hold a candle to the right wing fright machine once it gets enough cheap American gasoline inside it. This week was a banner week for scary, and it's going to grease the midterm slide so completely, that the Democrats won't need Joe Biden around anyhow.

Never mind that Ebola is devastating West Africa and wreaking havoc on international travel and national psyches. It's now a political issue and a subject for conspriacy theories. Some are comparing the government's response to the outbreak to GW Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, though the scale is, at this point, much smaller. And of course the anti-government crowd is blaming the government, the CDC and local administrations for fumbling the response. There is an element of truth in this. Potential carriers should not have flown on commercial airlines, nor should hospitals be unprepared for possible outbreaks.

Now, here comes the fear. If it's not Ebola, it's ISIS and the scary possibility that our borders are so porous that diseases and Islamic terrorists are pouring into the American southwest. With the economy growing slowly and the stock market sagging, it's more evidence to many that the Democrats do not deserve to keep their majority and since most of the Senate races are in red states, well, the writing's on the wall. I have been saying that the Democrats will hold their majority in November, but that will now depend almost solely on turnout.

So make sure you get out and vote. And don't be afraid.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Political Muddle

If the sentiments expressed in this article in the New York Times today is any indication, then the Democrats are in deep trouble in the November Senate elections. President Obama still has his fans, but even people who voted for him are losing some faith that he can lead the country out of its present political torpor in the last two years of his term. His opponents, and at this point there are more than ever, are downright gleeful at the thought of having the GOP take both houses of Congress, though they do express frustration and anger at his failures.

RealClearPolitics is being a bit coy about it, but most of the recent polling gives the Republicans leads in the states they need to win to take control of the chamber. The same is true over at Electoral-Vote, except the Votemaster is not being coy at all and is saying at this point that the GOP will claim at least 52 seats after the elections. And even over at the Princeton Election Consortium the news for Democrats is not positive, with the prognostication currently calling for 51 Republicans come January.

Does this mean that it's over? Not at all. Democrats famously under-perform in midterm election polling and there's still a half-month to go before the votes are counted. President Obama has lent his also famous get-out-the-vote apparatus to the national party and most polling organizations make an assumption that the electorate in 2014 will look a lot like that of 2010. If that's true, then the GOP will win. If not, and more of the Democrats' constituents come out to vote, then there will be many surprises on election night.

The mood of the country will have a good deal to do with the outcome, and right now the Republicans have the upper hand. Of course, they are running on the fear of Ebola and ISIS, which they are convinced will both run through the United States over the next couple of weeks. It also doesn't help that the seats the Democrats have to defend are in mostly red states.

If the Republicans win this year, then payback will most likely come during a more favorable cycle for Democrats in 2016. In the meantime, look for Congress to try to repeal the ACA, continue to investigate Benghazi, fortify the Mexican border against terrorists, and lower taxes on the wealthy.

You know, the real issues.

For more, go to or Twitter @rigrundfest