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Handicapping Election 2006

by Christopher Chantrill
March 14, 2006 at 4:21 pm

IT WILL TAKE a gain of 15 seats for the Democrats to take control of the House of Representatives this fall. Can they do it?

Long time elections expert Michael Barone says maybe. It would seem that gaining 15 seats should not be that hard, given that the Republicans gained 52 seats in 1994 to take the House. But this isn’t 1994. At least not yet.

Democrats' chances of taking those 15 seats are not very good — if the voting patterns and political contours that have held steady since the 1995-96 budget showdown continue to prevail.

And that’s the point. Voting patterns have stayed steady for about the last ten years. The Republicans gains came from three sources, says Barone. First was the Democratic Class of 1974 that had won in fairly Republican districts. Twenty years later, as those incumbents moved on, their seats reverted back to the Republicans. Then Republicans benefited from an improvement in candidate quality, the movement of the conservative South into the Republican camp, a remarkable anti-incumbent feeling, and finally an anti-Clinton feeling among voters who in 1992 thought they were voting for a moderate and instead got tax increases and national health care.

How do those factors work this time around? Not too much. It doesn’t seem likely that Republicans are in for a perfect storm like Democrats were in 1994.

In his analysis, Jay Case writes in RealClearPolitics.com that we should not underestimate the difficulty of unseating an incumbent congressman. There are only about 17 Republican open seats and most of them are districts that voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Then he goes through the conventional wisdom that points to a Democratic pickup in November. Democrats could win if they could unify around a set of issues. Republicans are in trouble because they are not united. Right track/wrong track polls indicate trouble for the Republicans, and so on.

All wrong, says Case. The fact is that 95 percent of Republican congressmen are running for reelection. And the open seats are mostly in districts that voted for Bush. That makes it almost impossible to retake the House unless the sentiments of the voters change significantly before November.

So it ain’t over yet.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill