Spinning a Loss

A recent article by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post is indicative of the fantasy world of the average liberal.  In that article, in some bizarre preemptive attempt to explain anticipated Democratic losses in the Senate, he presents “four underappreciated facts” that need some explaining.  The first is the number of Democratic seats that are not in play at this point.  He notes that the GOP attempted to broaden the playing field because so many Democratic Senators were defending seats in red states at the beginning of this cycle.  His main claim is that Democrats are poised for victories in Oregon, Michigan, Virginia and Minnesota.  However, none of these states except perhaps Virginia can be placed in the “red” category.  And other than perhaps Michigan, every sane Republican knew that defeating Warner, Merkley or even Franken would be a tall order.  Michigan was mentioned because it was an open Democratic seat and open seats are always bona fide targets.  Of course, Dionne glosses over the fact that both Colorado and Iowa are very much in play and trending in the GOP’s direction when every Democrat believed that [mc_name name=’Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001259′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ] were slam dunks.  And lest we forget, neither [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001181′ ] in New Hampshire nor [mc_name name=’Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’H001049′ ] in North Carolina have closed the deal.

The second point is that the Democrats have stressed economics to shore up their incumbents.  He uses examples from Georgia, Kentucky and South Dakota.  For example, he claims that the issue of outsourcing and the minimum wage have been winning arguments for the Democrats in these states.  In Georgia, that may be true for Michelle Nunn, but how he can defend Alison Lundergan-Grimes is inexplicable.  And in South Dakota, Rounds leads his Democratic opponent whether Larry Pressler is a factor or not.  In fact, should Pressler outperform the Democrat, it would disprove Dionne’s thesis.  Regardless, the Republicans have also stressed economics which probably explains why they are in such a good position at this point.  There have been no Todd Akin-like gaffes on social issues.  Colorado is the perfect example where [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ]’s incessant attacks on Corey Gardner over the alleged Republican “war on women” has earned him the sarcastic moniker “Mark Uterus” even from the liberal Colorado press.  Dionne is only half right since both sides are emphasizing economics and the voters are less accepting of the liberal/Democratic solutions.

The third point is that the Republicans are trying to nationalize the election by tying vulnerable Democrats to Barack Obama, while the Democrats are trying to keep the races more local.  North Carolina is his perfect example.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’H001049′ ] is trying to tie her opponent- Thom Tillis- to the state legislature while he is trying to tie her to Obama.  Lost on pundits like Dionne is the fact that the very people that elected the North Carolina legislature are also voting this year.  Despite publicity stunts like “Moral Mondays,” most North Carolinians likely agree with their legislature.  Of course, the ultimate test of that theory will come when they are up for reelection, not [mc_name name=’Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’H001049′ ].  He further states that issues like the minimum wage, equal pay for women and student loan debt have been winning messages for Democrats at the local level.  That may be true in gubernatorial races and certain Senatorial races, but again there is a problem.  The fact they have to bring in an [mc_name name=’Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’W000817′ ] and Bill Clinton to campaign for someone that should not need help from such Democratic heavyweights underscores the problems for the Democrats.

His final point is that because of Obama’s low approval ratings, the GOP should be running away with these elections.  In fact, they are in certain states.  However as Dionne and others know full well, incumbency has advantages and just because Obama has low numbers nationally does not mean that incumbents are automatically vulnerable locally.  At Bush’s lowest point, Republican Senators and Representatives were being reelected and with Obama’s low numbers, does Dionne expect a sweep?  However, it is amusing to watch lifelong Democrats who supported the Obama agenda these past six years now scramble to distance themselves from Obama and his policies, not only in words but also by actually running from him in person.

He cites a recent poll by Pew which he interprets as meaning this midterm is not a referendum on Obama.  In that poll, 45% say Obama will not be a factor in their choice for a Senator.  At face value, 55% then would make their view of Obama be the basis for their vote.  Within that 55%, he notes that 32% say it will be a vote against Obama while 20% say it will be a vote for Obama.  Just crunching some numbers, that would mean that there is a built-in advantage for the GOP among the majority.  Regardless, people are notorious liars on these polls and often state that their vote is not a referendum on the President.

Leaving that aside, I, along with a math teacher, decided to put these statistics to the test.  Using Pew’s numbers, current polling data, and past midterm voter turnout, we looked at 11 states that are considered battleground: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and Kansas.  We obtained the following results: Republicans would win all those states except Kansas.  In fact, when factoring in viable “third party” candidates in Georgia and Louisiana, both David Perdue and [mc_name name=’Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001075′ ] would win outright on November 4th… if we follow the Pew statistical findings.  And as for Kansas, [mc_name name=’Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000307′ ] would come within 6 points of Greg Orman.

Perhaps the only thing Dionne got correct was the fact that in 2016, the situation will be reversed.  There will be more Republican targets, but then when you are in the majority, that is an obvious given.  Most interesting is the fact that those on the Left are making excuses and spinning what is looking like a good year for the GOP.  Ironically, another publication ran a diametrically opposing story the same day: “Could New Mexico Be In Play Now?”  When we are looking at closer races than anticipated in New Mexico and Minnesota, then Dionne’s spin makes little sense.  And when you throw in the possibility of Republican Representatives from Maine and Hawaii, or Republican Governors in Illinois or Massachusetts, Dionne is reduced to a sad apologist for the Democratic Party.