Political Critic Archives - November 2006

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Monday, November 27, 2006 - 12:00am

Waiting on the Baker Commission Report

While people are dying each day in Iraq, our leaders are waiting, waiting until James Baker can come up with his report that will supposedly change the course in Iraq.  Rather than trying to fix the mess they got into, the administration (and the Democrats) are pinning their hopes on a 76-year old man who has not held public office in over 14 years.

 

The Democrats are likely to hide behind whatever the Baker Commission recommends.  They have no plan of their own, at least not collectively, so they will take political cover in the report.  The administration, who is ultimately responsible, is having the Pentagon develop an alternative to James Baker's recommendations just in case they don't like them. 

 

Unfortunately, this is being done strictly for political purposes.  If these people were actually interested in protecting our troops, they would've changed course a long time ago, well before the elections.  It doesn't take very long to figure out that the current strategy is not working and that a new strategy must take hold.

 

Hopefully, Baker will recommend dividing the nation into three federations.  This is the first necessary step.  The Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds need to be separated.  Right now, we are telling these people to form a government with each other and to do so in a civilized manner.  To put that in American terms, that would be like telling the KKK and the Bloods & Crips to join forces and form a stable and cohesive government.  It's just not going to happen.

 

It remains to be seen what James Baker will say in his report, but I am not getting my hopes up.  He is a political person who served under Bush Sr. and his report will be skewed to a political perspective.  It is supposedly a bi-partisan report, but that usually means that nothing concrete is recommended.

 

What we need are real solutions from the civilian leadership and we need them now.  This procrastination is simply getting more people killed.

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Friday, November 24, 2006 - 11:00am

Mother Russia Accused of Killing Their Own

In the last few years, the United States has had better relations with Russia, but it looks like the Soviets are up to their old tricks again.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused by ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko of poisoning him and eventually killing him.  Litvinenko, who was only 43 years old, died yesterday of heart failure after being poisoned by radiation.  That is the third harsh critic of the Russian government to be killed in the last few months.  The others were a journalist and a central bank official.

 

Litvinenko was literally on his death bed when he accused Putin of orchestrating his killing.  Being minutes away from dying tends to bring out the truth in people if you ask me.  Putin and his government responded to the allegation by saying it was nonsense, but all signs point to the contrary. 

 

For three weeks, doctors could not determine what poison was causing Litvinenko to die.  However, they just discovered that he died from a radioactive substance in his body.  Radioactive material is only in the possession of governments and very few of them for that matter.  It is not something that the ordinary killer can get their hands on.

 

So Vladimir Putin's government had the motive and the means to kill Litvinenko.  This would be equivalent of George Bush ordering the murder of an ex-CIA agent.  Bush was willing to expose the identity of one of our own spies, but he has not (yet) resorted to kill them.

 

What does this all mean back in the United States?  Well, it probably means a renewed strain on the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.  How George Bush handles this could issue be very important.  He has ignored the other killings thus far.  If he dismisses it again, Putin and his government will consider it a green light to kill any critic they want, even if they are on foreign soil.  That obviously cannot happen. 

 

Bush needs to come out hard against his buddy Vladimir to avoid that appearance of condoning his actions.  I'm just not so sure he's smart enough to do so.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006 - 8:15pm

On the Radio!

 

I will be on the "Subject 2 Discussion" political program at 10:30pm EST tonight.  The show is out of Las Vegas, but you can listen to the show anywhere via the net at S2DRadio.com or LVRocks.com.  The show starts at 10:00pm EST and the topics for discussion will be current political events and where we are heading into 2008.  Join us live!  It should be a good discussion.

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Monday, November 20, 2006 - 12:49am

Leading Democrat Wants Draft Reinstated

Democrats continued to shoot themselves in the foot and this time Congressman Charlie Rangel has stepped up to the plate.  Last week, he publicly stated that he didn't know why anyone would live in Mississippi and on Sunday he declared that the draft should be reinstated.  Rangel is set to become the Chairman of the very powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is determined to implement a draft on all Americans between the ages of 18 and 42.

 

Rangel honestly believes that a draft will dissuade other politicians from waging war in the future. He thinks that if the child of a politician is forced to serve their country, then that politician would be less likely to start a war with another nation.  The problem with that logic is that rich kids always find a way out of getting in harm's way.  Just ask George Bush.

 

What's frightening is that Rangel does not want a draft because he thinks our forces are depleted.  He just doesn't like how the military is constructed.  He rightly points out that the military has a disproportionate number of minorities and lower-income families, but his answer for solving this supposed problem is to force non-minorities and higher-income people to serve.  It doesn't make sense.

 

The United States already has an exceptional military that is all volunteer.  The military does not want to baby-sit people that don't want to be there.  If you institute a draft, you will get scores of people that would rather be somewhere else and who will create more problems than they solve.

 

The war in Iraq has brought this issue to the forefront because the U.S. military has occupied the nation for nearly four years and the forces are strained.  However, the United States Armed Forces consist of over 1.4 million active duty troops and 2.68 million total.  They only have about 10% of their active duty troops in Iraq.  Rotation of troops and support personnel bring that number higher, but a draft is simply  unnecessary at this point.

 

Congressman Rangel is way off-base.  The solution is not to increase the size of the military.  The solution is to stop waging illegal wars against other countries.  A larger military will just give the politicians more of a reason to invade someplace else.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 12:30pm

Democrats Continue Infighting

No wonder the Democrats hardly ever win elections.  No sooner had the fight between John Murtha and Steny Hoyer been decided when James Carville and Howard Dean started going after each other.  Apparently Carville, and many other leading Democrats are upset at DNC Chairman Dean because of the way he distributed money during the mid-term election race. Democrats are in the midst of a circular firing squad and have no qualms about bringing their own people down.  Carville now wants Dean to be fired as Chairman.

 

 Howard Dean employed a 50-state strategy in the mid-term elections.  What he basically did was spread the money out to candidates in all fifty states, even in races that the Democrats had no chance of winning.  He took the long-term view that although the Democrats would not win in the South (and elsewhere) this time around, it would help in the future.  He believes that you have to ask someone for their vote before you can receive it.

 

Rahm Emanuel got into a huge fight with Dean about this well before the election.  Since Dean was in control of the money, he decided where the money was spent.  He also failed to spend all of the money available to them.  The election results show the good and the bad of what Howard Dean accomplished.

 

Although the Democrats took both Houses of Congress, they lost 14 House seats by one percent.  According to Carville and Emmanuel, the Democrats would've won most of those seats had Dean allocated more funds to those races.  The GOP spent much more money in those races and won them all.  The GOP also won most of the races in the South, where Dean had decided to spend more money.

 

Now the Democrats did take the House and Senate for the first time in twelve years, so Howard Dean does deserve some credit for that.  He also helped raise more money for the party than they ever have before.  However, it looks like he screwed up on this one.  The Democrats had a chance to take nearly 45 seats in the House, but only ended up taking about 30.

 

Many in the Democratic leadership now want Dean to be fired and replaced with Harold Ford Jr.  That would be the same Harold Ford Jr. who just lost his Senate race.  That doesn't seem to make too much sense.  Howard Dean made a mistake, but he should not be replaced, at least not yet.  If he doesn't bend a little on his 50-state strategy in 2008, then the Democrats will need to make a change, but we are a long way from there.  For now, the Democrats should focus on, ya know, running the country.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 8:00pm

Steny Hoyer Beats Murtha for Majority Leader

In the end, it wasn't that close.  In a secret vote by Democrats, Steny Hoyer defeated John Murtha 149-86 to become the next Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.  The 67-year old Hoyer will retain his position as the second in command to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when Congress convenes in January.

 

 Steny Hoyer is a Congressman from Maryland who has served in the House for the last 25 years.  Here is Hoyer ripping into the Republicans about their lack of fiscal discipline.  It remains to be seen if he will do anything to lower spending on his watch.  I tend to doubt it.  After all, he is a Democrat.

 

People will say Pelosi loses in the long-term because she backed Murtha and not Hoyer for leader, but that could not be further from the truth.  This was, at best, a three day story in a week where there wasn't anything else to talk about.  After the vote, Pelosi, Murtha, and Hoyer stood together and they all agreed to push the President to change course in Iraq.

 

Pelosi simply came into the game too late to make a difference.  Hoyer had gone after the votes months ago, knowing that Murtha or someone else would challenge him for leader.  Steny had locked up enough votes before Pelosi even came out for Murtha.

 

Most people outside the beltway don't even know who these three people are right now, so this skirmish will have been forgotten by the time the vote on the speakership even occurs.

 

All that said, it is disappointing that the #1 and #2 Democrats in the House did not change.  They have shown zero ability to lead in the last few years and that is not likely to change anytime soon.  The best thing they can do in the next two years is to keep Bush and his folks in-line.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 12:00am

Murtha and Hoyer Battle for House Majority Leader

So much for the Democrats playing nice.  They're not even in power yet and fights are breaking out over who gets the most control.  Step in Congressman John Murtha and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.  Both want to be the House Majority Leader for the next Congress and they don't mind taking swings at each other to get it.

 

The winner will be the second most powerful person in the House next to Nancy Pelosi, the next Speaker of the House.  Pelosi has already thrown her support behind her good friend John Murtha, but it may not be enough to get him the position.  Steny Hoyer already has a block of 33 Democratic Congressman that will support him.

 

Both men are for redeploying (withdrawing) American forces from Iraq.  Murtha, a 34-year Marine Corps veteran, has been a harsh critic of the war and stood up against George Bush and his incompetent administration when other Democrats were afraid.  Steny  Hoyer, as Minority Whip is the second most powerful Democrat in this Congress, but he has said little if anything about the failed Iraqi strategy.  He has simply tried not to rock the boat and hold his position as second in command.

 

All things considered, you must lean toward Murtha on this one.  I might not agree on his Iraq position or on other issues, but we need people in positions of power who stand up for what they believe.  I'm sick and tired of these politicians just telling us what we want to hear.  I'm also sick of Democrats not having a spine to stand up to the GOP, especially when it has been corrupted.

 

We know Murtha will stand up to the Republicans.  We don't know what Hoyer will do.  The Democrats need leaders and people that won't back down.  John Murtha is the right man for the job.

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Monday, November 13, 2006 - 12:00am

Suicide Bomber Kills 35 Iraqi Police Recruits

If this isn't reason enough to train the Iraqi troops in another country, I don't know what is.  To fix the mess in Iraq, you must train Iraqi military and police in other countries.  This suicide bombing simply illustrates the point.  There police trainees cannot be protected inside Iraq.  In addition to the 35 men that were killed, another 58 were wounded.  These attacks targeting police recruits continue over and over again, yet nobody looks for a viable solution.

 

The only way the United States military will get out of the country is if the Iraqis have a police force and military of their own.  They cannot get that if they keep getting killed. Security obviously cannot be ensured for these recruits.  If you let them train in other nations, they will not be killed. You would think that is relatively easy concept to grasp.

 

In addition to the deaths, the Iraqi police and military recruits are often infiltrated by insurgents.  It is difficult to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys while in Iraq.  However, if they are trained elsewhere, they can easily be monitored and weeded out accordingly.

 

Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.  Train the Iraqis elsewhere and then bring them back to Iraq.  Other nations have already offered to do just that.

 

This is a major piece of the puzzle in stabilizing Iraq and bringing our boys home.  It must be done or our troops will never get out of Iraq.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006 - 11:00am

Please Buy Donald Rumsfeld a Ticket to Germany

Ok, if we all pitch in, we can afford to buy former (that has a nice ring to it) Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld a one-way plane ticket to Germany.  For in Germany, he can face the war crimes charges that are currently being filed against him in that country.  Also facing charges are Alberto 'Torture Boy' Gonzales, George Tenet, and other senior level members of the Bush administration.

 

The charges are a result of Rumsfeld's direct involvement in the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  The key witness that would testify against Rumsfeld is former U.S. Brigadier General Janice Karpinski, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib when the abuse happened. 

 

The charges are filed in Germany because German law allows for universal jurisdiction when it comes to war crimes.  Of course, that law is laughable as they have little control of the actions of other nations. Rumsfeld was actually scheduled to speak in Munich in the next few months, but I'm betting he's not going to show for that.

 

Also, If you believe that Rummy was only torturing terrorists, think again.  When the Red Cross was allowed to enter Abu Ghraib prison, they discovered that about 80% of the prisoners had done nothing.  They were simply picked up in sweeps.  The U.S. effectively confirmed that number by releasing hundreds of prisoners shortly after the story broke.

 

The Rumsfeld story, as reported by TIME Magazine, is just the first step in what could prove to be many hearings, subpoenas, and criminal charges against this administration.  There are many people from the Nixon administration that eventually went to jail and what they did pales in comparison to the actions of Bush and his people.

 

The Democrats will chair all the committees in both the House and the Senate, so they will have the authority to call hearings and issue subpoenas.  It remains to be seen just how far they will go, but I, for one, am not holding my breath.  The Democrats have proved over the last six years that they are wimps that stand up to nobody.  The only reason they won the election is because they are not Republicans.  So Don Rumsfeld can probably rest easy and retire to his multi-million dollar estate.  His crimes are real, but he will likely never be imprisoned for them.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - 7:30pm

The Best Possible Outcome for the Country

My sister owes me $100.  She didn't believe that the Democrats would take control of the Senate and she is the liberal.  Yee of little faith.  Of course it is not official yet, but the Democrats need only for James Webb to be declared the winner in Virginia to take over.  James Webb has beaten George Allen by about 7,000 votes.  Allen has the right to request a recount, but it is highly unlikely that it will change the results by enough votes.

 

The Democrats romped yesterday.  They will pick-up about 32 seats in the House, far more than I predicted and more than what the experts thought.  They have officially picked up five seats in the Senate and Virginia would make six.  Democrat Claire McCaskill was declared the winner of Missouri right before I nodded off at 2:30am and Jon Tester was declared the winner of Montana later in the morning.

 

The polls were frighteningly accurate, as the outcome of every race came out as predicted below.  The Democrats will control both houses of Congress and will be able to serve as the watchdog to a Republican White House that has operated without bounds for the last six years.

 

What happened yesterday is great for the country.  Politicians cannot be trusted, whether they are Democrats or Republicans.  The best way to keep them in line is to give them about the same amount of power.  Now, we will have the executive branch run by one party and the legislative branch controlled by the other.

 

What is also good for the country is the turnover of incumbents.  Politicians that have been in office for too long tend to become complacent and corrupted.  Yesterday, many incumbents were thrown out.  Many of the Republican congressman that were tossed had been embroiled in scandal.  The American electorate was smart enough to get rid of these crooks.  This time they were almost all Republicans, but rest assured that the Democrats will fall into the same situation if given the chance.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - 2:00am

Blogging Inside the Beltway

It's been a very long day.  I voted in Rhode Island this morning, went to Philadelphia for lunch with some old friends, then made my way to Washington to watch the election returns.  It is now 2:00am and I am still watching.  As of right now, the Democrats have won control of the House. They have won three seats in the Senate with three more still undecided.  The Democrats have also won a number of governorships.

 

In Virginia, the results are in and James Webb (D) has "won" by about 2,700 votes.  The result is so close that there will probably be a recount.  George Allen (R) has not conceded, so expect a lot of lawyers in Virginia. 

 

Jon Tester (D) is ahead in Montana, but not enough precincts have reported yet to declare him the winner.  He is currently ahead 51-47% with 64% of the precincts reporting.

 

Claire McCaskill (D) has also "defeated" Jim Talent in Missouri, but it is within 1% at the moment. McCaskill is up by slightly more than 25,000 votes with 85% reporting.  Missouri may also be swarmed with attorneys and a recount may be in the works.

 

All in all, it has been a good day for Democrats.  They need to win the three remaining Senate seats to gain control of the Senate, but that looks very possible.  I believe Jon Tester will soon be declared the winner in Montana and the Dems lead in the other two races.  We'll see what happens in the coming days, but I, for one, am going to sleep.

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Monday, November 6, 2006 - 8:15pm

Prediction Time

The Republicans are surging nationwide in the final days before the election and have closed the gap in a number of key races.  Will it be enough for them to hold onto the House or Senate?  Let's take a closer look at all of the battleground states.

  • We'll start with Rhode Island, the state in which I currently reside.  Chafee is ahead by 1% in the last Mason-Dixon poll, but Sheldon Whitehouse is ahead by 3, 14, 10, and 8% in USA Today/Gallup, Reuters/Zogby, RI College, and Rasmussen.  All of these polls are within the last three weeks.  The Mason-Dixon poll looks like the aberration, so I predict the Democrats pick this seat up. (+1)

 

  • In Ohio, Sherrod Brown is ahead in every poll.  The worst he is doing is up 6% in Mason-Dixon.  The Democrats will take this seat away from the GOP. (+2)

 

  • In Pennsylvania, Bob Casey is also ahead in every poll.  He is up by 17% in one poll and is no worse than up 8% in any.  The liberals grab this seat from the conservatives. (+3)

 

  • In Montana, Conrad Burns (R) has closed the gap on Jim Tester (D) to a virtual tie. Tester is a very strong candidate in a red state and he has been ahead all year.  However, the GOP has conducted smear phone calls against Tester in recent weeks which has helped Burns.  He is tied in the Mason-Dixon poll, but Jon Tester is still ahead by 1% in Reuters/Zogby, 2% in Rasmussen, and 9% in USA Today/Gallup.  This is one of those races you will have to wait up until 3am to determine the result, but I believe Tester will hang on for the win. (+4)

 

  • Missouri is another incredibly tight race.  Both candidates are very good.  In the latest Rasmussen poll, Jim Talent (R) is ahead by 1%.  Claire McCaskill is ahead by 1% in Mason-Dixon, 4% in USA Today/Gallup, and 9% in SurveyUSA.  All four of these polls were conducted within the last week, but the Rasmussen one is the last.  This could go either way, but I'll take the candidate who is ahead in three of the last four polls. McCaskill will win Missouri, but not by much. (+5)

 

  • Virginia is a nasty race that pits George Allen (R) against Jim Webb (D).  Both of these guys are conservative and the race is in a dead heat.  Allen was winning throughout the year, but Webb has surged ahead in the last two weeks.  Allen holds the lead in USA Today/Gallup by 3%, but that is the only poll he now leads.  In the Rasmussen poll, the candidates are tied.  James Webb holds the lead by 1% in Reuters/Zogby, 1% in Mason Dixon, 4% in CNN, and 8% in SurveyUSA.  This also could go either way, but Webb has the momentum and leads in the most polls.  I believe Webb will win. (+6)

 

  • In Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr. (D) has run a brilliant campaign, but it looks like he will come up short against his opponent.  Corker (R) now leads in every poll, with his lowest margin being up 3% and his highest up 12%.  The Republicans already hold this seat and I believe they will keep it.

 

  • New Jersey is a race against a shady Democrat, Robert Menendez, and Thomas Kean, Jr. (R).  Outside the Northeast, Kean would probably win.  However, New Jersey is about 2-1 Democrats, so Menendez has a huge, built-in advantage.  Although this race was close for a bit, Menendez is now ahead in every poll.  At the low end, he leads by 3% and by the high end, he leads by 10%.  The Dems will retain this seat.

 

  • Maryland is a state that always goes to the Democrats, but this race is much, much closer than anyone expected.  Republican Michael Steele has run a solid campaign and has closed the gap on Ben Cardin (D).  Steele had pulled even in the SurveyUSA poll, but the latest one out shows Cardin up 3%.  Ben Cardin also leads by 3% in Mason-Dixon, 5% in Rasmussen, and 5% in Reuters/Zogby.  The Democrats will hold on and keep this seat, but not by as much as they normally would.

I am going strictly by the polls here, but if they are to be believed, the Democrats will pick up six seats and take control of the Senate 51-49.  Many of the races above are toss-ups, so they could go either way depending on turnout.

 

In the House, most would agree that the Democrats will take over.  The question is by how much.  I believe this will be closer than the experts believe.  The experts are projecting a gain of about 21-26 seats, but I think it will be closer to an 18 seat pick-up.  The Dems will take over control of the House by a narrow margin.

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Sunday, November 5, 2006 - 7:25pm

Administration Pushed for Saddam Verdict Before Election

I know you will all be shocked by this, but the Bush administration pushed the Iraqis to declare a verdict in the Saddam Hussein trial in order for a more favorable election result for the GOP. This is yet another sign that the Bush administration will do absolutely anything to manipulate the ignorant electorate.  They are no better than a group of street thugs.  They have no problem putting their own soldiers at risk in order to win an election.  They prove this over and over again.

 

The fact that Saddam Hussein will be killed is a great thing, but it doesn't make up for the fact that over 2,800 American soldiers lost their lives in order for it to happen.  Another 20,000 American soldiers have been seriously injured.  It just isn't worth it, no matter what happens to Saddam Hussein.  The cost is too high.

 

This verdict will do nothing to stop the violence in Iraq.  Right now, the only thing it will do is help the Republicans do better in the mid-term elections.  That was their goal all along.

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Friday, November 3, 2006 - 12:00am

Latest Polls Show Significant Trends

The battle for control of the Senate is starting to come into better focus.  Some new polls have been released that show some challengers fading away and others coming on strong.

  • Bob Corker has pulled ahead of Harold Ford Jr. by 10% in Tennessee, according to Reuters/Zogby.  Corker leads 53-43 in that poll and leads in two others as well.  Looks like those racist/sexual ads against Ford are working.

 

  • Claire McCaskill is ahead by 3% in Missouri according to Reuters/Zogby and also holds a slight lead in Rasmussen and Survey USA.  The direction of the polls is important and she holds a small edge right now.  Perhaps Michael J. Fox was able to help her by just enough.  We'll see.

 

  • The trend is also good for James Webb in Virginia.  Webb has trailed throughout the whole race, but is now ahead in the last three polls.  The lead is small, but the trend is clear.  In CNN, Rasmussen, and Reuters/Zogby, Webb leads by 4%, 5%, and 1%, respectively.

 

  • Montana has been considered a seat the Democrats would be able to pick up, but the trend is not good for Jon Tester.  He has been ahead all year, but his opponent has closed the gap to within the margin of error.  It will be a lot closer than people originally thought.

On the Democratic side, New Jersey and Maryland are at risk, but it looks like the Democratic candidates should be able to hold on. 

 

What this all means is that the Democrats may take six seats and regain control of the Senate. The key is for James Webb and Claire McCaskill to win.  There are still four days to go, so things can change, but right now I'd have to predict that the liberals get the six seats that they need.  I will give a Monday night prediction when all the polls are in, but this is where we stand today.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006 - 10:10pm

House Forecast

Depending on who you listen to, the Democrats are expected to pick up anywhere from 15 to 50 seats in the House next week.  Picking up 50 seats is highly unlikely, but the Democrats need only the 15 to regain control of the House.  MyDD has a detailed forecast of many of the House races and predicts a Democratic gain of between 21-26 seats.  That would give the Democrats a narrow majority.

 

 That pickup of about 21-26 seats is about where most 'experts' are in their forecast but it is far less than the number of seats that are actually in play. Stuart Rothenberg puts 55 Republican seats in play and MyDD shows 62 Republican held seats that are competitive.  Many of them are categorized as 'Lean Republican', but voter turnout could play a major role in shifting those numbers around.

 

Turnout in mid-term elections has always been low and this year could be even worse.  The mentality outside the beltway seems to be complete disgust with both parties.  That could depress voter turnout across the country.  The conventional wisdom is that low turnout is favorable to the Democrats.  The idea is that the Democrats are angry and angry people come out to vote. 

 

Getting the conservatives out to vote is another story.  The GOP is excellent at getting their voters to the polls, but with the Mark Foley scandal, the war in Iraq, Katrina, and corruption in general, many conservatives may stay home.

 

If conservatives do stay home, the Democrats could win in a landslide, much the way the Republicans took over the House in 1994.  All those races in the category 'Lean Republican' could swing to the Democrats if the conservatives don't come out.  Of course, I don't think that will happen, but it would be nice to see.  The more incumbents that are thrown out, the better.  If the Democrats can win the majority and get rid of their own baggage (see Kennedy, Patrick) at the same time, so much the better.

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