Fall has arrived in Western Pennsylvania. The temperatures, at least for this native Arizonan who has lived in Southeast Texas for the past 15 years, have been fall-like since Labor Day weekend. The leaves are beginning to turn and fall, though we are probably two or three weeks away from full color. It won’t be long before the trees are bare, the wind is cold and the polls will be open.
I haven’t really done a lot of blogging on politics. Occasionally, something warrants a comment, but generally, I prefer denominational politics if I’m going to post an opinion. I’ll make an exception today, and may return to answer comments if any are generated. I may revisit this post after the first Tuesday of November, either to point out how accurate I was or to admit to not having much in the way of a crystal ball, I don’t know. I am glad that these election cycles don’t come around all that often. The ads can be nauseating.
I do spend time watching pre-election polling. While the media has to make something sensational and newsworthy out of mere statistics, I’ve found that you can learn a lot by choosing four or five polling sites, and then paying close attention to the trends. The shifts in voter opinion are not nearly as easily discerned or as dramatic as the media makes them out to be. If you pay much attention to the media, whether it is Fox or NBC, you get the impression that large numbers of people are unable to make up their mind about who they will vote for until the very last minute, and that the whole country is moving in one direction or another. That’s not quite the case.
What the polls do tell us is that, from a political party perspective, the November election will be a close one in terms of whether the GOP will gain enough seats in Congress to get back “in control”. If I were planning to bet on the outcome (I’m not, but it is the easiest way to put this in understandable terms), a month ago, I’d have bet that at least one house would have a Republican majority in it after the swearing in next January. Today, I’d be less likely to bet on that. The polls are showing that there has been a shift in many of the “toss up” races toward the Democrat candidate in both House and Senate races. But beyond that, there are a couple of other factors involved. A lot of Republican candidates are low on funds as a result of knock down, drag out battles in the primaries with Tea Party backed candidates. Democrats, meanwhile, are just now digging into war chests with major contributions in them, along with piles of dollars left unspent from 2008. The effect of advertising shows up in the change in the generic ballot poll, in which the Democrats, down by as many as seven points, have come back to take a lead that has increased each day. And aa second factor is that the network put together in 2008 that helped elect President Obama, while not as active as it was then, is coming together and motivating voters to get to the polls.
So if I were making a prediction based on what’s out there today, I’d say that the margins in both houses will narrow, but the Democrats will keep majorities in both. Not that there would be much of a change in their productivity if the GOP does succeed in gaining a majority in one or even both houses. It won’t be a large enough majority to pass their agenda over what would be almost certain presidential vetoes. So the gridlock will continue.
In this election particularly it seems that most Americans don’t give Congress very high ratings. But the congressmen and women they don’t like aren’t from their district on on their ballot. Most of us don’t like the other guy’s congressman, or Senator, but we’ll vote for and support our own. Republican candidates who find it tough going challenging an incumbent Democrat have taken to trying to run against Nancy Pelosi instead. The problem with that is that Nancy is running for re-election in California district 8, composed of the northeast half of the city of San Francisco. Congress gets job approval ratings that hang around the 20% mark, but most voters still support the incumbent senator from their state or congressman from their district.
Christine O’Donnell, the tea party candidate who is the Republican senate nominee from Delaware, is rapidly becoming the face of the tea party movement, and that’s not a good thing, unless you are a Democrat running for Congress or the Senate. She’s more or less being cast as a “nut case candidate,” and she seems to be playing to that expectation. She’s taken some of the heat off of Sharron Angle, who has slipped behind Harry Reid in the Nevada senate race polls, though the publicity surrounding some of her statements is bound to have an effect on how people vote in other races involving Tea Party-backed candidates. There is no doubt the various tea party elements have had a significant impact on the GOP, targeting and removing many long standing incumbents, but it isn’t looking like very many of them will have the wherewithal or the support to win the general elections.
I doubt that any candidates for office are reading what I am writing. However, I don’t mind telling you what I want to hear from you if you want my vote. I’m not going to cast a ballot for anyone who is going to continue to play politics as usual. I’m tired of having social issues dragged out to stir up voters, and then cast aside as unimportant after the election is over. And I’m tired of politicians who are campaigning to “stop” what the other side wants to do. We’re emerging from an economic crisis that was eight years in the making, and I think it is the government’s obligation, under the constitutional provision that its role is to protect its citizens, to put forth short term solutions that relieve suffering while supporting things which will bring about a long term recovery.
If you want to repeal the oversight and control that government put on the banking and finance system, you won’t get my vote. I know that’s another layer of government control, but when money is involved, and there is an almost unlimited potential to acquire large quantities of it, government control is an absolute necessity to ensure that people aren’t ripped off. I don’t like being ripped off, and I’ve been fleeced by both banks and credit card companies, via exhorbatant and unnecessary fees. Leave that alone.
Likewise, if you think health care is a perfect free enterprise business that doesn’t need immediate overhaul and reform, then you won’t get my vote either. If you think that what has been passed so far is health care reform, then I am not going to vote for you either. This isn’t rocket science or complicated. Far too much of the money we pay for health insurance and health care doesn’t go to providing either of those services. That has to change. It’s that simple. Do it.
My personal interests tend toward issues related to education. If you are willing to work toward allowing parents educational choice, and not forcing people to pay taxes to support a government owned educational system that they do not utilize, then you are probably going to get my vote. Let parents decide how their kids will be schooled, and don’t make them pay for a system they choose not to use.
Well, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Are there any candidates who will meet my criterion? Perhaps. Not many, for sure. We’ll see how things go come November 2.