The rest of the country appears to be waking up to the notion that Barack Obama has a fantastic chance of capturing the nomination of his party and, dare I say it, even the Presidency. The latest New Hampshire polling numbers would certainly indicate this at least. On the other hand, thanks to DCap's excellent recent post on the matter, I know now to cast serious doubts as to the veracity of polling data, as from my reading I know it now to be often tremendously overrated, far from objective, and frequently meaningless. Allow me to take a different tact altogether in today's post because the Presidential race is not what I'm seeking to address today. ___________________
The issue thus far flying well under the radar and unreported by any large scale concerns the majority status of the next Congress. The Democratic-led 110th Congress has been largely ineffective, has passed modest reforms, and above all has failed in its elected purpose, which was to pull our troops out of Iraq. Would a Democratic victory in the Presidential race translate to the preservation of its status as party in charge of both legislative bodies? Could it add substantial gains beyond its precarious one-seat Senate margin and less-than-overwhelming majority in the House? Or, has its strategy of conceding to President Bush the majority of his demands to proven to be its ultimate undoing?
No one knows for sure, but what cannot be doubted is that the American people are, by in large, absolutely furious with the so-called leadership of Pelosi and Reid. This degree of anger is felt similarly among a large cross-section of voters, which includes the traditional liberal base of the party, Democratic-leaning independents, and moderates. In retaliation, many otherwise solidly blue voters may vote for independents this go round, or vote instead for any candidate who promises substantive change, regardless of his or her party affiliation. As such, even against a weakened Republican party, Democrats still stand a very real chance of losing the Senate, though losing the House is unlikely to occur.
The deeply fractured GOP may see many of its traditional supporters stay home this cycle, which is the only real chance I see that Democrats have in adding to its 2006 gains. Evangelical voters who have finally found their champion in the person of Mike Huckabee might be far less inclined to vote for John McCain, even a McCain who has taken a much stronger conservative stance than in 2000. One line of thinking claims that, much like Reagan's overwhelming victory in 1980, a Democratic victory in November would have the added benefit of giving several Democratic legislators the ability to ride the presumptive victor's coattails into office. This, of course, presumes that whomever wins the nomination also captures the Presidential election by a substantial majority, which conventional wisdom states will be a tall order to accomplish. Indeed, the last Presidential landslide was in 1984, nearly twenty-five years ago. The best case scenario of 2008 for Democrats might be akin to Clinton's 1996 re-election, which though it was a resounding win, was hardly an overwhelming one.
This much is clear, a Democratic President with a GOP controlled legislature would face gridlock on a massive scale. Furthermore, it should also be said that many Americans, suspicious of any government with an overly ambitious inclination and afraid of the consequences of any party with firm control of both branches, prefer the logjam of a divided Executive and Legislative branch. Should Obama win in November and face a hostile legislative body, his agenda would be severely compromised in the process. Idealistic rhetoric of change aside, he would find his term of office a largely frustrating one, and be able to get few matters of substance passed.