November 1, 2010
Tsunami: Could Be 100 House Seats (and Maybe the Senate)
Not only do I remember where I was when I found out Scott Brown had won -- I remember exactly what I thought: that the GOP would win 100 seats in the 2010 midterms. I still think that is very possible.
And keep in mind, the difference between 75 seats and a hundred seats could be a mere vapor of a half-percent of the raw vote. The point is, this beat-down will be bigger than the pundit class is predicting.
After all, Brown not only won the Massachusetts Senate election statewide, but he also carried Barney Frank's congressional district. This was even more stunning than the fact that he had taken the statewide election -- and is the kind of info that sends folks like Michael Barone shuffling back through their notes to make sure there is not a typo somewhere.
This stuff happens only when an electoral tsunami is on the horizon. It was on the horizon then and is still barreling towards us.
Brown, in his acceptance speech, said that if "it can happen here, it can happen anywhere." That is true, but it is only part of the truth. It is not merely "happening anywhere" -- it is happening everywhere.
When Brown won, we had already seen Republicans win Virginia by a huge margin and New Jersey -- yes, Jersey -- by a rather comfortable margin.
Moreover, Governors McDonnell and especially Christie have been acting on their mandate and becoming more and more popular as they do so. American voters not only voted differently from what we had ever seen before, but they were supporting conservatives under fire from liberal pundits once in office more than ever before.
McDonnell and Christie feel this, too. They have become more conservative and more bold about being so since they have been in office.
In other words, the anti-Obama and anti-incumbent mood was not the only thing going on in voters' minds. Remember, the media was still calling all of this simply an anti-incumbency thing back then.
There was more to it. There was a palpable and huge conservative ascendancy even among folks who might not call themselves conservative. In Massachusetts, a state won by McGovern in '72, Brown avoided the term "Tea Party" and even "conservative" during his campaign -- but check the videotape. He ran on a platform Ronald Reagan would smile upon.
He vowed to be the 41st Senate vote against ObamaCare -- and promised a list of other items remarkably similar to what was on hand-painted signs across the country during town hall meetings and Tea Parties. It worked.
There was a seismic national shift obvious to anyone open to the fact that it might be possible. And this shift was a clear trend playing out right in front of us. Thus, on the night of Brown's win, the idea of a hundred crossed my mind.
After all, the GOP won 54-plus seats in 1994 -- and 2010 feels like 1994 with double the intensity. Because "happening everywhere" is not the stuff of 45 seats or 60 seats. Happening everywhere is a tsunami.
Now while this prediction is mostly a gut feeling, there is some hard evidence to back it up, at least to a degree. And yes, I know that those who trade day in and day out with the hard evidence are nowhere near a hundred in their predictions.
I realize that Larry Sabato says 55 House seats. Charlie Cook is in the low 60s, I think. So is Karl Rove. They are all at about 7 to 8 Senate seats. Election guru Barone is nudging up to the 60-plus mark -- but longtime observers of Barone say he thinks a lot more than that but cannot bring himself to say so out loud.
(True, Dick Morris finally upped his prediction to 100 seats a few weeks ago, but he also is trying to raise money with his predictions and has not repeated that claim recently to my knowledge. Perhaps the much-ballyhooed "surge" among Democrat base voters scared him away.)
The more noted pundits being in the 50s and 60s actually makes me feel good about the pick of 100, because mere weeks ago, all these people were debating whether the GOP might win something close to the 39 seats they need to take over the House. As now, I was holding at 100. The fact that they're inching my way is how I look at it.
But there's more to it than that. The Gallup poll, normally a group that under-polls Republicans, is calling for something like a 10- to 17-point nationwide spread for the GOP over Democrats in this election. The only way the Dems get it down to 10 or 11, according to Gallup, is to rev up their base successfully. These figures have firmed in this range for the past month.
Other polls have the GOP with a generic advantage over a large range, but there appear to be outdated biases in favor of Democrats in their sampling and methodologies. When normed for these biases, they get closer to Gallup's numbers.
Rasmussen's Daily Tracking Poll has also firmed in the negative 15-to-20-percent range for Obama's Daily Tracking figures -- meaning something like 45% of the country strongly disapproves of the president versus something like 25%-28% who strongly support him. And as we know, this election is a referendum on Obama's agenda.
Moreover, the Real Clear Politics average of polls regarding presidential popularity have miraculously started to match Rasmussen's figures of late. Nothing like having a reputation on the line to make honest brokers out of pollsters. I long predicted this in the C. Edmund Wright Give-A-Damn Index analyses of poll discrepancies back in 2009.
All of this leads me to stay on my pick of 100 seats in the House, with a minimum of 75. It is part gut feeling, part analysis of the polling groups' methodologies, part comparison with '94, part polling experience -- and oh yeah, part gut feeling.
There are some particulars about certain Senate races (like West Virgnia, Illinois, and California) that inoculate those somewhat from the overall national mood, so I'll say 9 or 10 in the Senate. But my strong conviction is with the House.
Perhaps the gut feeling has a lot to do with the liberal crack-up happening right in front of us on a daily basis. Or more. Do you feel it, too?
The author is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and was the token conservative in a liberal polling and research firm in South Carolina in the mid-'80s.