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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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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


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


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


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


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


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


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


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


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


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill