There’s been some discussion about whether the Democrats will be victim to the over-cooked expectations of Obama supporters and energised conservative Republicans:
First, the background: the party of the president in office essentially always loses seats in the mid-term elections (2002 was a post-9/11 one-off), a tendency likely to be reinforced in 2010 by the fact that so many Democrats rode the Obama wave to win marginal districts in ’08. Plus, this year many progressive activists are turned off by what they perceive to be a failed healthcare reform bill, while others oppose Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Add into the mix on the other side a fired-up movement of Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin fans and you have what looks like the recipe for a massive Democratic defeat in eleven months.
My view is that, given the still-parlous state of the US economy, the Democrats will be a victim of incumbency. This is certainly my analysis of the victory by Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell – who beat the incumbent Democrat.
This is not a resurgence of the Republicans, but a reaction against the failing body-politic of the USA. Disenfranchised Americans will try to punish whichever party is in power – not just the Democrats. The Obama campaign, while lauded as a “digital revolution” and a shining example of grass-roots, bottom-up empowerment, has not translated into decentralisation of decision-making. Normal people are still locked out of the policy making process in Washintgon and in their home states.
The ten percent unemployment (much higher in many areas) doesn’t help.
I also agree with Colin Delany from TechPresident that the Tea Party movement won’t necessarily equate to success for the Republicans. The Tea Party movement is largely an astro-turf movement, but even where there is a real ground swell, the Republicans are still an integral part of the broken system that the Tea Party-ers are rallying against:
…the Tea Partiers may have energy, but they primarily seem to employ itÂ against other Republicans, particularly those in the party establishment,Â even when they’re not squabbling amongst themselves. Many mainstream Republicans will face ideological primary challenges in 2010, forcing them to spend scarce resources early on and to take positions that could box them into a corner in the Fall. And with the RNC short on cash, individual candidates can’t count on the party bailing them out even if they do manage to shrug off the rightwing rabble.
The Democrat’s biggest problem will be to turn out their disheartened supporters, and to convince Americans that they should retain control of the Congress.
More on the Senate by-election at Larvatus Prodeo.