Friday, October 24, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: If There Is a "Wave," What Might Happen?

I am writing this BEFORE the votes are counted on
election day; in fact, I am writing this several days
beforehand. I am NOT predicting any of the outcomes
discussed here; I am only suggesting what might happen
if the much-discussed political “wave” does occur (or
does not occur) on November 4.

I want to point out that political waves come in various
sizes. Furthermore, it is quite possible that there will be
no true wave this cycle, only a typical election in which
the party holding the White House loses some seats in
the U.S. house and senate.

But let’s say, for argument’s sake, there IS a wave.

If there is a wave, its intensity and impact will depend on
how emotionally motivated significant numbers of voters,
most of them independents or non-party-affiliated, are on
election day. This general group usually make up most of
the so-called undecided voters, especially those who make
up their minds at the very end of the campaign, and then
go to the polls.

At this late date, it is very difficult to imagine a scenario in
which “wave” voters would turn to Democratic candidates.
If there is a wave in 2014, it will be most likely a conservative
and/or anti-Obama wave.

Currently, not taking into account a wave, there is a general
consensus that Republicans will pick up 5-7 U.S. senate
seats, 5-10 U.S. house seats, and that Democrats will gain a
net of 3-4 governorships. That would be a decent night for the
conservative party, but no wave. If the Democrats can hold
GOP gains in the senate to five or less, it would actually be a
relatively good night for the Democrats.

A true “wave,” in my opinion, would require many more
undecided voters to vote Republican, and many Democrats to
stay home. A true wave would produce a net gain of 8-10
Republican senators, 11-15 Republican house members, and
close to a draw in net new governors. A “tsunami,” on the other
hand, would bring in 11-15 new GOP senators, 16-25 new GOP
house members, and the surprise of some net gains in GOP

The “tsunami” scenario in 2014 seems unlikely with about
two weeks to go, but a more modest “wave” does not.
Considering the Democratic advantages of cash and their
get-out-the-effort, a more modest “traditional” mid-term
election with only some congressional gains for the GOP, and
Democrats picking a small number of governorships is also
quite possible.

I want to repeat what I have said now for many months. Any
kind of true wave, moderate or heavy, does not appear visible
until either just before election day, or when the vote is counted.
Waves are almost always late-breaking. Not only that, waves
can peak too soon or, as in the 1968 presidential election, not
reach their peak in time for the actual voting. (“President”
Hubert Humphrey could have lectured on that scenario!)

This discussion is obviously speculative. Even with only days to
go before election day, the dimensions of the 2014 cycle are
unclear. Waves are relatively rare electoral occurrences. When
they do happen, however, they often bring surprises and great
shock in their wake.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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