This re-punctuated Beatles lyric pretty much sums up the wishes of any number of Democrats who find the whole nomination process at little too Hobbesian – nasty, brutish, and – in this instance – long. What we Dems need, the thinking goes, is “this thing settled” before we so damage the eventual nominee that he or she isn’t able to mount a challenge to Senator John “I’m Tanned and Rested” McCain.
I ain’t buying it.
We – the politically junkies, the media, the blogosphere and the pundit corps – are all knotted up in the minutia of Obama’s latest gaffe or Hillary’s latest nastiness but all of it is simply an intermission before the start of Act II, the working title of which appears to be “The Republicans Get Spanked – Again – for Eight Years of Incompetence.”
“Wishful thinking,” you say? Here’s why I think not.
The latest Gallup poll indicates President Bush is the most unpopular president in 70 years of polling. I don’t care how far and fast Republicans – including Senator John “He’s My President” John McCain – try to run from that stink (and frankly, how far can he run without alienating his base many of whom – remarkably – still support The Decider?), their record of eight years of supporting that incompetence is all over them like shit mist.
A record 29 incumbent Republican House members are voluntarily leaving office this cycle. Think they might know something we don’t?
A staggering 81 percent of Americans think the country is off track. I’m thinking the logic of those voters isn’t going to be “four more years.”
Consider the state of the economy. Consumer confidence last month hit a five-year low and is expected to decline further this month. Oil prices came within pennies yesterday of $120 a barrel and the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is north of $3.60 (north of $3.90 in California). Unemployment jumped from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent in March. Foreclosures are up 57 percent year-over-year. Bankruptcy filings increased 38 percent in 2007 versus the prior year and many feel we were just warming up for 2008.
These are not happy facts for anyone, particularly the people involved, so please feel free to ass-kick any Democrat who appears to be gloating over this litany of pain. That said, when the economy is faltering and people feel vulnerable and scared on the financial front, the party in power generally takes it in the shorts. We haven’t felt this vulnerable since the days of Hoover.
And then there’s the other little issues of the day – the war, national security, the environment, energy, health care, balancing the budget – where Democrats are consistently outpolling Republicans as the party people trust more to manage these issues – even the traditional GOP strongholds of national security and fiscal restraint.
In fact, the gap in party identification these days is as large as it’s been in decades with self-identified Dems (and leaners) outpulling GOP friends and family by a 51-37 margin (this shift has been so profound that Democrats actually outnumber Republicans in red states as a group). That’s doubly worrisome for the GOP when you consider how activated the Dems seem to be this cycle – in state after state Democratic enrollment and participation has surged while the GOP ranks – even when the race was still contested – have been a bit limp. Even the shock troops of Karl Rove’s much-heralded, soon-ridiculed permanent realignment – the evangelical voters who backed President Bush 62-38 in 2004 – seen to be a bit dispirited and divided. A recent survey suggests that if the election were held today, the split would be 40-28 for the Democrats.
And, to put a cherry on it, both Senators Obama and Clinton are outpolling Senator McCain even before either has turned any real attention to him and while in the midst of trying to brain one another:
I hope the Republicans enjoy their spring holiday while it lasts because my gut tells me they’re in for a long, cold fall election season.
PS – In the course of researching this post, I came across an article by Alan Abramowitz in the New Republic that makes many of the same arguments I do except more eloquently and with more originality. If you’ve gotten to this point and are having another one of those, “What the hell is he trying to say?” moments I inadvertently create, check him out for a better translation.
PPS – I also found a very detailed and fact-based analysis of the electoral prospects in both the House and Senate on Congressional Quarterly’s site that is well worth a read. irs attorney kind