Pre-Election Post-Election Conference


I can’t think of much to say about the U.S. midterms that hasn’t been said already. It’s not just a referendum on Liberalism even if you think the Democrats have been particularly liberal (I don’t), because that ignores the importance of the economy and high unemployment. But it’s not just about the economy as liberal pundits are already arguing, since Reagan in 1982 was in exactly the same situation — high unemployment, endless recession, sinking popularity — and his party suffered fairly mild losses for a midterm election. But on the other hand, the Reagan analogy also reminds us that Obama is not uniquely unpopular or rejected, since his standing in the polls is about the same as Reagan’s in 1982. A combination of high unemployment, unpopular policies, depressed Democratic base, enthused Republican base, giving back the huge gains of 2006 and 2008, and so on, all combined to create this situation, which means that almost every reason given for the result will be sort of right.

The one thing that won’t be right is if people talk about a Republican re-alignment.You’d think that after the Democratic re-alignment of 2006 and 2008 proved to be illusory, and the Republican re-alignment of 2002-4 also turned out to be illusory, we’d hear less about realigning elections, since in an ideologically-divided two-party system (as opposed to the several-parties-in-one system that allowed Democrats to control Congress  uninterrupted from 1955 to 1994) no party can stay underwater for very long, because the only option for “throwing the bums out” is to throw the other party in. Of course it might turn out that the Democratic majority was similar to the one they had during most of the Woodrow Wilson era, an interlude in what was otherwise a long period of Republican control. But on the other hand the Republicans could just as easily give back what they win this time, like they did in 1948 after their big midterm blowout in 1946. Nobody knows, is the point.

Anyway, that’s all I got. Since I’m not looking forward to watching the post-election coverage, here’s a preview of all the press conferences by the newly-elected Representatives, Senators and Governors:

[vodpod id=Video.4816070&w=640&h=385&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

Addendum: A preview of a piece that will be airing next Tuesday on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, though it doesn’t look like they got very much:

[vodpod id=Video.4816477&w=640&h=385&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

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Pre-Election Post-Election Conference

  1. Best summation of US politicians ever caught on film.

  2. Comparisons to Republican losses in '82 are somewhat flawed. They were already behind by more than fifty seats whereas The Democrats were well a head coming into this election; they have much more room to fall.

  3. It's not just a referendum on Liberalism even if you think the Democrats have been particularly liberal (I don't), because that ignores the importance of the economy and high unemployment.

    You mean like Obama and the Democrats have essentially ignored the importance of the economy for much of these last two years?

    Not only do I think this was a referendum on liberalism — making big-government health care the priority over jobs — but I also think it was a referendum on Obama's promise of hope and change.

    It's not so much that he hasn't gotten results, it's that he's completely dismissed his pledge to change Washington. Instead of telling the establishment what to do, he let them dictate the agenda. He quickly and easily became part of the very establishment he ran against.

    When Obama failed to make a dent in the system, the Tea Party decided to do it for him, and they've done it with an exclamation point tonight.

    • Rabble rabble

      I hate Obama and have no idea what they've actually done but I simply rehash talking points of people who oppose him

      Rabble rabble

      • Then why have I displayed far more independent thought in my post than you have in yours? God, some of you get really tiresome with your lazy, ignorant, and unjustifed smugness.

      • Olivier, why do you hate Obama so much, are you racist or something?

    • Isnt Liberalism defined by the ignorance of the economy?

    • "When Obama failed to make a dent in the system, the Tea Party decided to do it for him, and they've done it with an exclamation point tonight."

      Harry Reid, there's your exclamation point, Harry Reid.

  4. I think the biggest lesson here is reiterating that there's no such thing as permanent victory or permanent defeat. All the pundits smugly proclaiming the collapse/irrelevance/permanent unpopularity of Republicans in 2008-2009 should be roundly mocked.

    • I remember the Wall Street Journal celebrating the dawn of a new conservative era upon the rise of George W. Bush and his surprisingly strong showing in his first mid-term election. The pendulum keeps swinging, in part because neither party seems capable of capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by voters.

    • Perhaps, but they were drawing on a long history in doing so. American history has been characterized by consistent party systems that can last as long as 40 years or so. There may be changes in party control within those periods, but the issues and cleavages tend to remain the same. And there really are realignment elections that move the goalposts significantly. Of course we won't know if an election is a realignment or an aberration for a long time. A better indicator than election returns would be to look at whether the basic issue environment has changed in a way that permanently benefits one party or another.

      • Ross Douthat writes an interesting piece in the New York Times today. He argues that, if you judge realignment by legislative accomplishment, the last two years have been far more successful for liberals than the previous eight or more were for conservatives.

        Which still makes me wonder just why in the world liberals are so disaffected with Obama. It's quite an amazing phenomenon, if you ask me.

        But Douthat adds one proviso: the long-lasting success of recent liberal legislation. In 2012, such accomplishments might be vindicated, or they might be thoroughly discredited. Will be fascinating to watch either way.

  5. Aside from having no idea what liberalism is

    Being insulting to people who dare disagree with you is one clue. God. Why is it that you liberals fear and loathe your opponents, like the Tea Partiers?