I’m a lousy political handicapper because my emotions get in the way. Charlie Cook, by contrast, is a pro, and one of the best. That’s not to say that he has a crystal ball, only that his analysis is likely to reflect a fair assessment of currently available information.
Cook’s latest thoughts (available through a free email subscription) make pleasant reading for Democrats:
With fewer than 100 days left before the Nov. 7 election, certain assumptions can now be made, contingent upon the absence of a cataclysmic event.
First, the political climate will be extremely hostile to Republican candidates. Second, while Republicans benefited from turnout in 2002 and 2004, this time voter turnout will benefit Democratic candidates. And third, the advantage that the GOP usually has in national party spending will be significantly less than normal.
In the House, where Democrats need a 15-seat gain to win a majority, Republicans have 15 seats that the Cook Political Report currently rates as toss-ups. No Democratic seats remain in that column. Another 21 GOP seats are rated as leaning Republican.
In a very large tidal-wave election, as this one appears to be, it would not be unusual to see all toss-ups go to one party, along with a few out of the leaning column as well. Republicans might lose their House majority just in the seats in which they are behind or in which their edge is within a poll’s margin of error.
In the Senate, while it is easy to get Democrats to a four- or five-seat net gain, six is tougher. But keep in mind that in the last four non-wave elections, between 67 and 89 percent of the races rated as “toss-ups” in the final Cook Political Report pre-election ratings broke toward one party each time, a domino effect, with the close races breaking toward the party with momentum.
This does not mean that Republicans no longer have any chance of holding onto their House or even Senate majorities. But every day that passes between now and Nov. 7 where their poll numbers look this bad, the climb back gets incrementally steeper and more difficult.
Sometimes a party wins by losing; as horrible as the 2004 result was for the country, it was probably good for the Democrats as a party, and bad for conservatism as a political orientation. But this isn’t one of those times. Two years’ worth of hearings into Bush Administration malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance would make excellent background music for the 2008 Presidential election. Orwell’s comment that control of the present gives control of the past, and thus of the future, is less true under current circumstances than under the rule of Big Brother and his Party, but it’s true nonetheless.
Wouldn’t this be an excellent time to write a couple of checks?