Of Partisans and Poll Numbers

Do the Democrats face double-digit losses in 2010, or are pundits getting too worked up about a few outlying figures?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

With Politico's front page story yesterday about double-digit Democratic losses in 2010, and approval ratings for President Obama sliding by the day, everyone is talking about numbers. Who's optimistic? Who's pessimistic? And how do we interpret the polling numbers and indicators we have? Here is a sampling of important opinions on the subject:

  • "Music to My Ears"  Clifton B at Another Black Conservative celebrated the numbers: "The Democrats are living out almost every stereotype conservatives have ever uttered about them." The Politico story, he wrote, also showed that Democrats were not elected in 2008 because of a leftward shift in the electorate, but because "Americans wanted a better class of Republicans."
  • Best of Luck on Health Care  Joe Weisenthal welcomed returning legislators with a link to Politico's "front-page screamer." Despite acknowledging that "there's not even that much new in there--basically a roundup of some predictions from Charlie Cook and Nate Silver" he pointed out that the numbers weren't ones to make a "vulnerable Democrat [...] want to vote for health care reform... and financial reform... and cap & trade and so on."
  • "Time to Rebalance"  David Brooks accused the administration of having "joined itself at the hip to the liberal leadership in Congress" and failing to demonstrate "independence and fiscal restraint." If Obama "doesn't proceed in a manner consistent with the spirit of the nation and the times, voters will find a way to stop him."

There were also those who doubted the recent Democratic doomsday prophecies:

  • Hang on A Second  Responding to Nate Silver's Politico-reported prediction of a 25-33 percent chance of Republicans retaking the house, Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse was skeptical: "If history is any guide, Nate may have something here," he said, but "I think that Nate is being deliberately provocative. The stars would have to align just right for a GOP takeover."
  • Silver Qualifies  Nate Silver himself, on his website FiveThirtyEight, cautioned against reading too much into recent numbers. Calling himself "on record as being quite pessimistic about what's liable to happen to the Democrats in 2010," he nevertheless asserted that Obama's recent sub-50 percent approval ratings weren't particularly significant:
This not to suggest that Democrats should not be worried. They absolutely should be: they should be worried that Obama's approval numbers will dip even lower. But, if you held a Presidential election today, Barack Obama would almost certainly be retained, and if you held a Congressional election today, the Democrats would quite probably keep their majorities.
  • A Word of Warning  "Complacency," wrote the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, "is a danger on both sides." She pointed to Ramesh Ponnuru's discussion of the leaderless Republican party. 
  • A Possible Silver Lining  The Financial Times' Jurek Martin actually saw good news for President Obama in some recent numbers:
I’m a political not an economics junkie, but I do understand one thing about the connection between the two. If an American president takes an economic hit early in his first term, he will be re-elected; if he takes it late he is a goner after four years.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.