By Arlen Grossman/ The Big Picture Report
If you can believe the polls–and in aggregate they are generally accurate–President Barack Obama will likely eke out a narrow victory over his challenger, Mitt Romney. Nervous Democrats certainly hope that will be the case.
Even if it happens that way, I don’t see any reason for Democrats and/or progressives to pop any champagne corks. After all, Obama has been president for almost four years and life isn’t exactly rosy for most Americans now. It could be a different story if an Obama victory coincided with a Democratic Party rout of the GOP in both branches of Congress.
But polling indicates the Democrats will be fortunate to hang onto a narrow majority in the Senate, where they are defending seats in many more competitive races than the GOP, and forecasters see the Republicans in little danger of losing control of the House. Thanks to Citizens United, Republicans and their Super PAC allies are in a position to drop large amounts of money in congressional races where their contributions can make a real difference.
In addition to showing a decent Obama lead, Nate Silver’s most recent FiveThirtyEight forecast had Democrats taking 52.6 Senate seats and the Republicans 47.5, very much like the 52-46 (with 2 independents) majority they currently have.
As for the House races, the Huffington Post projects Republicans winning 231 seats vs. 189 for the Democrats (with 15 toss-ups), which is close to the current 242-193 GOP majority. Real Clear Politics shows Republicans leading by similar numbers.
It appears, even with a less-than-certain Obama re-election, we will end up pretty much where we are now. President Obama will once again be trying to work with a recalcitrant GOP minority in the Senate, and a solid Republican House of Representatives. As is the case now, that means Obama will propose ideas that Republicans will be only too happy to vote down or filibuster, and very little productive work will get done.
If everything plays out as I described above, we will be in no better position than we are now–which is essentially nowhere. Democrats/progressives can hope Harry Reid will tighten up or eliminate the filibuster rules, and John Boehner and Eric Cantor will decide they want to work in a cooperative manner with President Obama.
A more realistic view sees Washington stuck in perpetual gridlock, with our elected officials blustering and bellowing in the same smelly swamp they’ve been mucking in for the last too-many years.
Agreed, but the idea that the Dems winning majorities in both houses represents a real opportunity for change seems exaggerated. You need only look back two years to the Democratic-controlled legislature and executive branches to see how imperfect the dream of the dual majority is. Even when the Senate had close to 60 blue seats, pundits and liberal bloggers were writing posts not dissimilar to this one about the fabled “supermajority,” and how when that end was achieved all wrongs would be righted in American politics. Loopholes like the filibuster prevent even the most decisively-controlled Congress from making excessive legislative progress in either ideological direction, and that’s inherent in the branch’s design.
Good points, Jeff, and I agree. In addition, I’ve always felt having control of all three branches of government is bad for the country, no matter which party is in control. A party in such a position always ends up abusing their advantage and gets ethically careless, ensuring the minority party does especially well in subsequent elections.
I’d take the gridlock, if the options are gridlock or a slide downhill. If Romney wins the presidency and Democrats keep 40+ seats in the Senate (or even a narrow majority), I don’t see them putting as much resistance to Romney as GOP did to Obama.
Sad, but probably the most likely outcome. The Democrats may chip away a little at the House margin, but no enough to take over.