Suppose the Republicans win, or lose

I haven't seen a lot of commentary about what it will mean if the Republicans go down or if they win the White House and Congress. From half a world away, some reflections beneath the fold.

Republicans win the White House but lose the Senate

This will reinforce the politics of smear and division used by the Republicans against Gore, Kerry and now Obama. Karl Rove's legacy will become a permanent part of the political landscape, further devaluing democracy in the US. However, if they lose the Senate, there will be a continuing deadlock between the representatives of the states and the people, and the executive. This might lead to reinforcing the Cheney doctrine of the free hand of the Executive Arm if the Democrats fail to take constitutional action to rein in the excesses. And history suggests they will lack the will to do that, come what may. Hell, if the past eight years of illegal activity failed to trigger action, what in hell possibly could? Genocide?

Republicans win the Senate too

This will make almost permanent the incredibly stupid notion that government is an evil. The role of government as a common good provider has been systematically denigrated by the conservatives for over twenty years. If they can stymie all legislation, they will if it restricts government. The end result is going to be more legal and commercial anarchy and exploitation. The US will not be a pretty place to be less than wealthy in.

The Republicans lose the White House but control the Senate

We might start to see a return to classical conservatism - the kind that was about freedom but not about letting the devil take the hindmost. The GOP might return to its roots after the zombie feeding frenzy of the past, which could only be a good thing. I mean, when George H. W. Bush looks like a traditional conservative, you have to think your party has departed from its core values.

A Democratic Landslide

What would the conservatives do if they lost all control, federally, and lots of traditional states? Buchanan says there'd be a civil war in the conservative movement. I certainly think there would be hope that the religious right would lose all influence that exceeds their proportion, and maybe even become an untouchable base for the conservatives who know they have to regain the trust of the middle class. One thing that Obama has done is return the middle class to the front and centre (sorry, puns are unavoidable); for the past few decades to be middle class has been to be a cash cow for conservatives or a target for social democrats (in my country as well). But as economists know, the middle class is the source of most social capital as well as economic activity. They have been overtaxed to feed either the rich or the poor for too long, and now, they are biting back. I am going to guess that a large part of the surge for Obama is based on middle class voters. This might stir the GOP a bit.

It is absurd to this Antipodean that Americans are even considering a continuation of the past - if the shitstorm in the markets isn't enough, how about the illegality of American activities in spying on your own people, torture, bad foreign policy etc. Why is Obama not scoring at 75%? I cannot understand this. But maybe we are seeing a political market correction that might bring the US back into line with the rest of the democratic world. Maybe "liberal" will stop meaning something nasty in American discourse.

I'm an optimist, I can hope.


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Republicans winning the senate would very unlikely. However, there is a very small chance they could take the white house (perhaps the "bradley effect?"). Sorry to be bluntly partisan about this, but if that happens: we're done for, plain and simple. After two terms of Bush and Cheney and now Palin, many wiser people would realize that they're hopelessly outnumbered and begin to leave, in an exodus of sheer disgust. The dollar would decline even further, and the dumbed-down remnants of the USA would become the third-world theocracy they always wanted to be.

If the democrats win both congress and the white house, which looks very likely, the republicans will have to re-invent themselves - they'll have no choice (unless the dems screw up terribly). And that will be a good thing.

In my entirely unprofessional opinion, here are the chances:

Republicans win the White House but lose the Senate
1 in 10 at best. I think this is essentially identical to the chance of Republicans winning the White House.

Republicans win the Senate too
The same as the probability of Elvis crashing a UFO into the Loch Ness monster. Maybe less.

The Republicans lose the White House but control the Senate
Probably the same as just Elvis crashing a UFO without the Loch Ness monster involved. The Republicans will not control the senate.

A Democratic Landslide
I think there's some room between this and the other possibilties. The Democrats might take the White House but only gain a few seats in the senate, falling short of the landslide 60+ total they hope for. Call this 60+ scenario one 1 in 4.

My expected outcome is: Democrats take the White House and increase control of the senate, but by a margin of fewer than 10 seats. That chance is 2 of 3, maybe?

Republicans win the White House but lose the Senate

I'm not sure this is so bad. If McCain were to get into the White House, I think he might revert to his more usual self, and be more moderate and inclusive. The problem would be how to deal with Palin.

John, by control the Senate, do you mean the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster?

By Susan Silberstein (not verified) on 02 Nov 2008 #permalink

Why is Obama not scoring at 75%? I cannot understand this.

It makes no sense to me, either, or to anyone else here in Australia I've spoken to. However, especially since the name "Sarah Palin" entered the equation*, I've been developing my theory that there isn't really an election happening in America, and we're all just the victims of an elaborate hoax engineered by a gang of bored Canadian scriptwriters. It's the only explanation I've been able to think of that seems at all credible.

*Triple J played a soundbite from her in which she quoted one of her supporters saying, "They won't take my religion, my gun, or my bulldozer". Seriously.

Why is Obama not scoring at 75%? I cannot understand this.

As not only a U.S. citizen but a Pennsylvanian (a swing state in recent elections, meaning I get to watch the reaction as my neighbors and I are bombarded by TV ads, calls [robo- and otherwise], political brochures, etc.), here are my thoughts.

First, I want to take a little side trip, the theme of which is, Advertising Works.

My brother-in-law used to work as an exec in Europe for Gillette, and he'd sit in board meetings listening to marketing folks describe with precision exactly how much of an increase in advertising budget would produce exactly how much of an increase in sales. Having not come from a marketing background, he considered such stuff inexact at best, and was thus surprised to find that the marketing folks' predictions turned out to be right virtually all the time, to within tenths of percentage points. Understand: people's livelihoods depend on being right about the effects of advertising to a much higher degree of accuracy than the typical man-on-the-street conceives of.

OK, back to politics. Beginning in the 1980s, very good marketing and PR people from the U.S. business world began to apply what they'd learned to the political world. It was no accident that Reagan's "It's Morning in America" political ads were tremendously reminiscent of McDonald's marketing campaigns, and just as effective. Democrats were quite slow to catch up. Thus, people coming of political age during that time were inculcated in the superiority of things like supply-side economics and giving tax breaks to the "job creators" (business owners, and oh yes, just coincidentally, other wealthy folks). These precepts may not have been provably true any more than the thought that you should go to McDonald's if you deserve a break today, but through repetition they became part of the political DNA of the U.S.

It has taken the sheer horrible economic incompetence of the Bush Administration to bring these deeply held precepts even remotely into question. Most folks do now think Obama has the better economic ideas, but McCain TV ads and news reports that carry McCain's and Palin's speeches are starting to hone in on the "tax-and-spend liberals!" message that after decades of stimulus-response creates an almost visceral negative reaction in most hearers. It is no accident that Palin is now saying in speeches, "Go with your gut reaction!" McCain's advertising at this point is gearing over into word-association single- or couple-word negative messages about Obama. So will voters go with the higher reasoning centers ("The past 8 years of this stuff has been pretty bad, let's change"), or will the decision which button to push only make it as far as the brain-stem ("Obama bad!")?