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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Democratic House Retirements 'Concern' Caucus

Wapo announces the retirement announcement of a fourth Democratic House representative, Bart Gordon (Tenn.) and now Democrats are starting to sweat.

Gordon joins Reps. Dennis Moore (Kan.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Brian Baird (Wash.) as Democratic members in swing districts who have announced their retirements in the past two weeks. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried both Tennessee seats in the 2008 presidential election while narrowly losing in the Washington and Kansas districts. President George W. Bush carried all four of the seats in his 2004 reelection bid.

"Four retirements in and of themselves isn't enough to create a big problem," said Martin Frost, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "If there were to be 10 or 15 retirements like this, that is a problem for the DCCC."

Privately, Democratic strategists were more pessimistic about the potential implications of Gordon's announcement. "Until this point, this was manageable and reasonable," said one strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. "This is serious."

The national political environment has shifted significantly since President Obama was elected 13 months ago. Republican are now unified in opposition to the administration's policies and more energized than at any time since Bush's reelection in 2004. At the same time, many of the independent voters who backed the Democrats in their victories of 2006 and 2008 appear to have soured on the party, if this year's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia are any guide.

What concerns them the most is that this will turn into the domino effect and more House Democrats will cash in and retire rather than face a tough race where they are likely to lose their seat.

Pete Sessions (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee states "Democrats are beginning to see the writing on the wall, and instead of choosing to fight in a difficult political environment, they are taking a pass and opting for retirement."

With handicappers already predicting the normal losses where the "president's party often loses a significant number of House seats in the first midterm election of his time in office," these latest seats becoming open presents another problem.

Elections in districts without an incumbent running generally switch parties at much higher percentages than those with a reelection seeker

41 seats is what Republicans need to take back the House of Representatives, which would balance the power between the White House, Senate and Congress and it is beginning to look like a possibility.

In August experts were already predicting double digit losses for House Democrats, believing Republicans could take up to 20 seats or more but falling short of the 41 needed to take the House back, saying the GOP could take enough seats back to put them within "striking distance" of taking the House.

Over 3 months later, the news for Democratic leaders looks worse than originally projected.

The current state of the generic polls gives the Democrats .412/(.412+.377) = 52% of the two-party vote. Going to the graph, we see, first, that 52% for the Democrats is near historic lows (comparable to 1946, 1994, and 1998) and that the expected Democratic vote--given that their party holds the White House--is around -3%, or a 53-47 popular vote win for the Republicans.

Would 53% of the popular vote be enough for the Republicans to win a House majority? A quick look, based on my analysis with John Kastellec and Jamie Chandler of seats and votes in Congress, suggests yes.

It's still early--and there's a lot of scatter in those scatterplots--but if the generic polls remain this close, the Republican Party looks to be in good shape in the 2010.

P.S. Is there any hope for the Democrats? Sure. Beyond the general uncertainty in prediction, there is the general unpopularity of Republicans; also, it will be year 2 of the presidential term, not year 6 which is historically the really bad year for the incumbent party. Still and all, the numbers now definitely do not look good for the Democrats.

That is from the site Five Thirty Eight, which generally holds a liberal slant.

With predictions as dire as this, continuing along the path they are on, is political suicide.

Yet they are still rushing, have a time line even, in committing it.


Goddammit, it's good for the public!!!