Saturday, October 21, 2006

A little over two weeks to go

And I'd have to say that my predictions still seem to hold up. I don't think that this will be a repeat of 1994 for several reasons:
  1. The Republicans have known for over a year that this was going to be tough. The Democrats didn't figure this out until there were weeks left in the campaign, and it was too late.
  2. In 1994, there were many more open seats vacated by Democrats in both the house and the senate. Republicans then did not face the obstacle of a Democratic incumbent in those races. There are much fewer open seats contested this time out, which gives the incumbents advantage to Republicans.
  3. Redistricting. One of the big reasons for the Republican takeover in 1994 was that Republicans won the state house of several southern states. When redistricting occurred after the 1990 census, Republican state houses re-drew congressional districts to their advantage. The Democrats would need to win several governorships in prior Republican hands in time for the 2010 census to reverse this trend. Texas is a good example of this, how with Delay's redistricting took a state that had a majority of it's congressional seats held by Democrats to one that is now majority Republican.
  4. Republican GOTV. One of the lessons learned during the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections was that historically speaking, the Republicans had a distinct disadvantage in their GOTV operations versus the Democrats. Starting in 2000 under the direction of now RNC chairman Ken Melhman, the GOP has developed a GOTV operation that is vastly superior to the Democrats, who must now rely on Unions and 527 organizations to do their work. This is the reason why the GOP was able to have strong showings in 2002 and 2004.
  5. Money, with a bit over two weeks to go, the GOP has a huge cash advantage versus the Democrats, who have blown most of their money throughout the campaign (as most challengers need to do). We have just begun to see the final sprint to the finish, where the GOPs cash advantage will allow them to narrow many of these races to the point where they become contests of the respective party's GOTV activities.
These are just the structural differences between 1994 and 2006. I have not delved into the ideological differences, to which I can summarize as such. 1994 was a time of peace and prosperity, with no great issues of the day - a frivolous time where the electorate could take a chance with an opposition party just because the stakes were so low. The worst that happened was a divided government (which, incidentally, wasn't too bad). 2006 is a much more serious time, and alas, one party is not serious about the issues of the day. This type of polarization makes a larger segment of the electorate more risk adverse to electing an opposition party that lacks substance.

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