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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Losing to Win, 2012

Previous posts have discussed the "Losing to Win" dynamic that Ceaser and Busch analyzed in their book of the same name.  At National Journal, Charles Cook explains that GOP prospects in the Senate have dimmed, though mainly for reasons other than Romney's problems.  As for the other chamber...
In the House, we have not yet seen any signs of deterioration for the GOP majority. Even if Democrats were to win every seat currently rated solid Democratic, likely Democratic, or lean Democratic, as well as every toss-up, they would still come up short of a majority. The canaries in the coal mine are GOP seats currently rated as lean Republican or likely Republican. Cook Political Report House Editor David Wasserman points out that with Democrats likely to lose perhaps 10 of their own seats, they would have to gross 35 seats to hit the 25 net seats necessary to win a majority. That’s a very tall order.
House Republican strategists have been preaching the “balance message” to their candidates: If the top of the ticket starts to go south on them, then Republicans need to argue that the party must keep the House in GOP hands to have a firm check in place to balance against a second-term President Obama. [emphasis added]
The next week or 10 days are thus critical for Romney and the GOP. If things don’t turn around, a stampede could ensue reminiscent of 1996, when Republicans realized that Bob Dole was not going to defeat President Clinton. History could repeat itself.
On October 28, 1996, AP reported:
Republicans are putting out a new TV ad warning voters that electing a Democratic Congress could amount to a blank check for President Clinton _ a tacit admission that the president may be on his way to a second term.

The spot, which the party says will be shown in 50 House districts across the country, opens with a woman looking into a crystal ball and the question, ``What would happen if the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House?''
It goes on to recite the Republican version of events from the first two years of Clinton's term, when both the White House and Congress were in Democratic hands: tax increases, ``wasteful Washington spending,'' and Clinton's unsuccessful universal health care proposal.

``The liberal special interests aligned with Clinton desperately want to buy back control of Congress,'' the ad asserts, concluding, ``If we give the special interests a blank check in Congress, who's going to represent us?''

The 30-second spot seeks to capitalize on an issue that polls show could be among the most helpful for Republican candidates for Congress: voter fears of putting all of the levers of power into the hands of one party.
In 2012, however, there is a big complication, as Gallup reports:
A record-high 38% of Americans prefer that the same party control the presidency and Congress, while a record-low 23% say it would be better if the president and Congress were from different parties and 33% say it doesn't make any difference. While Americans tend to lean toward one-party government over divided government in presidential election years, this year finds the biggest gap in preferences for the former over the latter and is a major shift in views from one year ago.