Friday, October 22, 2010

The Finish Line In Sight

There is only a bit more than one week to go before election day, 2010, and the last-minute hysteria has, not surprisingly, already begun. Voters everywhere, regardless of whom they intend to vote for, should remain calm in the face of this psychological onslaught. Allegations are everywhere. Some things do not ever change.

Democrats are taking some small encouragement from recent polls showing some movement their way in a few highly contested U.S. senate races. But a close examination of these polls, some of which are Democratic polls, does not reveal any fundamental change in the months-long trend of voters toward Republicans in general. Some Republican senatorial candidates are simply not up to the pressure and scrutiny of a statewide campaign, and they will likely fail. Delaware is the iconic example of this in 2010. An all-but-certain pick-up was transformed into an all-but-certain defeat. As former Congressman, Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said wisely many times, “Run to win, but win to govern.”

One of the signs that the polling ambiguities in senate races may not otherwise be indicating a true countertrend at the end of the campaign in 2010, is that the opposite is generally happening in U.S. house races, especially in contests with long-time Democratic incumbents who hold hitherto regarded “totally safe” seats. One by one, household names in the larger chamber of Congress are learning they are in trouble, or are already behind. Gubernatorial races likewise remain trending to significant GOP takeovers.

Although I have been consistently arguing the high end of overall Republican gains in this cycle, I have also expressed caution about unrealistic expectations that some Republicans may have. or that some Democrats may fear. The Democrats will still win many races, and almost certainly will win a few surprises. Control of the U.S. house very likely will switch, but control of the U.S. senate is problematic, especially since the GOP would have to win almost all the close races. It’s possible; in fact, the Democrats did this in 2006; but no one should consider it “a done deal.”

The laughable claims of desperate campaigns and candidates are now in high dudgeon. An incumbent 18-term Democratic congressman from northern Minnesota attacks his own voters during a debate, the Democratic nominee for U.S. senate in Illinois outrageously attacks his GOP opponent for “economic treason,” and the Republican nominee for U.S. senate in Delaware gets hung up in alleged witchcraftery.

Fortunately, the finish line is in sight. We will likely have a two-party government again after November 2. Both sides will need to evaluate these renewed circumstances. Tom Ridge’s advice will not ever be more pertinent as the winners figure out how to govern.

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