8/25/2006 - Inconceivable!
The media is reporting something that seemed inconceivable only 12 months ago. Based on recent polls, it seems likely that the Democratic Party will picks up significant seats in the House, possibly even enough to flip control. In the Senate, gains are also likely, but nobody is forecasting a flip.
To take a step back, flipping the House in 2006 is inconceivable enough that I ignore this report as much as one that forecasted that Democrats would win every seat in the House. I generally regard the media, at least those elements that are openly sympathetic to the Democratic party (e.g. NYT) as being somewhat biased on these matters. That being said, the polls have been surprising enough to merit the reporting, and that is significant.
One of the oddities of this report is that gerrymandered house is seen as being more vulnerable than the ungerrymandered senate. I can think of at least two likely explanations. The "Democratic" explanation is that House elections are referendums on National Policy while Senate elections are more about Senators. I know my Senators and their characters quite well (and not just because one of them ran for President). I know who my Representative is, but can't really tell you much about his policy. Still, gerrymandering means that Representatives choose their voters, so you would think that Republican Representatives would tend to live in districts full of people who support National Policy right now.
The Republican take on these numbers is that they are wishful thinking. One can argue that pollsters don't do a good job identifying "likely voters," or that voter opinions rarely stay stable from here to November. And they may well be right. The recent history of pollsters (dating back to Clinton v. Dole) shows that polls often overstate Democratic strength. I think that a big part of this is that the party resonates well with younger voters, whereas voting doesn't.
Still, as an admitted Bush opposer, I find the reports heartening and can only hope that the Democratic party will find something other than the high price of gasoline on which to campaign...
14,500 capitol steps today. Cheers,