Oct 11, 2010

Every Monday morning, Fix blogger Chris Cillizza discusses who made news over the weekend and previews the week ahead for Congress, the Obama administration and the world of politics.

It's Monday. Are you ready for some politics?

I am patenting that slogan. No one else has thought of it right?

And away we go...

Chris: Kind of surprised by your answer on John Dingell from Friday. You said: "If Dingell loses, Democrats will lose 60+ House seats." Don't you think that's kind of low? Most of the prognositcators (Sabato, Silver, Cook) are projecting a 40-48 seat gain for the Republicans - and that's with Dingell not even close to being in the picture. Taking it one step further, I can do some math using Cook's chart and get to 60+ R gain with a mini wave. (22 D's already leaning R - all go R; 70% of the 38 tossups go - that's 26 more; 40% of the lean D go R - that's 12 more. That's 60). If that poll from Friday is real, and Dingell is in trouble - let's say he goes down - the Dems could lose 100 seats. There really are 100+ seats that are less safe than Dingell's right now. I'm not saying Dingell is going to lose - but if that poll is right, we could be talking a 80, 90 or 100 seat swing solely because there are that many seats that would be competitive if Dingell is now in play.

Fair enough. I plucked 60 from my head. The more accurate number might be  80 -- if Dingell (or others like him) lose.

News this morning that Raul Grijalva and Maurice Hinchey might be in real races suggests the playing field is getting wider and wider and raises the real possibility that we see some very unexpected losses on election day ala Carol Shea Porter and Dave Loebsack winning in 2006.

I'm surprised to see Patrick Murphy in trouble. What gives?

TONS of House questions...let's knock a few out.

Murphy is a good candidate in an ok district. The problem for him is that if Democrats at the top of the ticket (gov race and Senate race) fail to perform well, it could drag down a lot of marginal members who might otherwise win.

Remember that we are not dealing with a level playing field nationally -- there is considerable tilt in Republicans' favor and that is making it tougher and tougher to be a Democratic incumbent these days.

I have relatives who live in Palm Springs and they are saying that Steve Pougnet is running a dead heat with Mary Bono Mack. What have you been hearing about this race?

Democrats were very high on Pougnet last year.  And he has proved a very strong fundraiser.

I think the problem for him is that he is running in bad year for Democrats nationally.

My guess is that even if Pugnet loses, Democrats will challenge Bono Mack again in 2012 since the turnout in a presidential election year will be better in this district where Obama won with 52 percent in 2008.

What are the Democrats chances in CA-3 (Dan Lungren), CA-44 (Ken Calvet), and CA-45 (Mary Bono Mack)? I have studied these races and I found out that all 3 went for Obama and that the Democrats running are well funded. Since I live Lungren's district and I have family and friends living in the other districts, I wanted your opinion.

We covered CA-45.

I think Democrats best chance is in CA-03 against Lungren. Lungren underperformed in 2008 -- he got just 49 percent against a Democrat no one paid attention to -- and Democrats have an able candidate this time around in Ami Bera.

The problem for Bera -- and, yes, this is already a familiar refrain in this chat -- is that nationally the winds are blowing against Democrats even in this district.

How do you see the Kratovil/Harris race? Can Kratovil hold?

Closer than people think. Kratovil is hanging tough although the demographics of the district make it very hard for him to win.

How much of a chance does Perriello have in the VA 5th? Is there enough polling going on there to get a real picture? I've read various accounts of favorable opinions on him in the District and it makes it seem like a closer race than the poll numbers I am seeing. Wishful thinking?

I think Perriello has done almost everything -- from a campaign perspective -- right in the race.

But, this district is very tough to hold for any Democrat. And, I think at this point Robert Hurt has to be considered the favorite.

That said, these Survey USA poll that show Hurt ahead by 25+ points seem a bit far fetched to me.  I think he's ahead but not by that much.

So who is going to win Herr Fimian or Comrade Connolly. Voters in the 11th really don't have much of choice far left wing socialist or far right wing zealot. Who wins?

Um, ok.

I think Connolly is still a slight favorite but this race is definitely closer than most people expected it to be.

Yep, it's Thanksgiving in Canada today. Just in case you were wondering where all your Canadian work buddies were.

Happy thanksgiving! I can't wait until the Lions game later eh?

Does Richard Burr survive?

Yes.  Got lucky he wasn't running in 2006 and 2008. But, luck matters in politics.

Did you watch the debate on Sunday between congressional candidates Raj Goyle and Mike Pompeo? C'mon, sure you did.

1. No. 2. Obligatory Goyle reference is now out of the way.

Mightn't the Democrats' best late-campaign strategy be to point out the extreme stands on mainstream issues by Republicans around the country? E.g., reducing/abolishing unemployment insurance, privatizing Social Security, abolishing Cabinet departments like Education and Energy, repealing the 17th Amendment, questioning the 14th, restoring prayer to public classrooms, etc., etc.

They are doing plenty of that at the moment. The question is whether you believe that fundamentally this is an election about a choice between the two parties or a referendum on a single party.

Republicans believe that despite the unpopularity of their brand -- and it's not popular at all -- that it won't ultimately matter because voters are ready to send a message to Democrats. Period.

The good thing is that in 22 days time we will know how this all turns out. Which is yet another reason why I love elections.

If the Dems lose the House, does it matter by how much? I mean, if they lose by one seat, they lose the chairmanships. If they lose by 20 or 30 seats they still lose the chairmanships. Granted the winning margin may give them a sense of "we have a mandate" and good PR, etc... but as far as govering and passing legislation I think there will be gridlock and name calling to the extreme, whether it is a win by one or 30.


Losing the majority is losing the majority. A narrow GOp majority would make it tougher for Republicans to ram legislation through than a larger one.

But, that assumes much of anything legislatively will get done between now and Nov. 2012 -- a prospect I am decidedly skeptical about.

In Iowa. Hmm. Isn't he the man for the purists? Isn't he the clear alternative to Romney if Palin doesn't run? Or, are some of his views too wacky?

I just think that, at some point, electability matters.

And, it's hard to see how Paul is electable.

Remember how he and his supporters were the story of the Ames Straw poll? But he finished out of the running.

They were loud and energetic but ultimately they weren't able to convince other people who weren't die-hard Paul-ites that he could win.

You know their phrase, "Are you ready for some football?" Sure, politics and football are two different words but that did not stop Ben & Jerrys from suing Ren & Terry's...

Yeah...I have heard of it...

There's been an anti-Kathy Dahlkemper commercial running here lately, showing Obama, Pelosi's and her heads superimposed on top of three dancers in a long chorus line high-kicking in lock-step. Then last week on network news I saw a news story that showed a snippet of the same commercial, only this time against Rep. Spratt (D-SC) with his face/name instead of Dahlkemper's. Is it common to use essentially the same commercial in various parts of the country, or is this unusual? If people find out, does it tend to dilute the ad's effectiveness?

Absolutely a common tactic.

And, because voters in one district almost never see ads in other districts -- particularly in other states -- it rarely causes problems.

From an ad making perspective, you can see why it makes sense. Shooting one video reel and then substituting in candidates names is a lot cheaper than shooting 5 or 10 separate commercials.

Then surely the Democrats can campaign on the unpopularity of the Republicans, right?

They can -- and are -- trying.

But, again, that will only matter if voters are making a choice between Democrats and Republicans.

If voters are simply wanting to say "stop" to Democrats, then it may not matter how little voters like Republicans.

I call this a bear election as in: You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the other guy.  Republicans are hoping they are faster than the other guys in 22 days.

.....the more seats the dems lose the house by, the harder it will be to win back the majority in the future!

Very good point.

Polls show that both parties Congressional delegations have a very serious problem with the American public including their overall message and direction. Yet, the people who head the Congressional delegations, Pelosi, Boehner, Reid and McConnell seem to have a strong hold on their leadership positions. Why aren't the rank and file members looking for leaders who are more palatable to the electorate?

I think the results of the election on Nov. 2 will change things.

Remember that Newt Gingrich looked on top of his game heading into the 1998 election but after his predictions of GOP seat gains failed to materialize he was out of Congress.

Elections are major markers in our political lives and they do change things -- inside and outside the halls of Congress.

So, don't be so sure that a leadership shakeup isn't in the offing...

The Lions don't play till Saturday night. Today it's the Allouettes and the Stampeders in the afternoon game. Then we celebrate with our traditonal feast - back bacon, jelly donuts, and of course, Elsinore beer.


And, will you or will you not be watching "Strange Brew" on a continuous loop all day? Like we do with "Christmas Story" on Christmas Eve?

That's all folks.  A few things:

1. I chat Monday Wednesday and Friday at 11 am. Be there!

2. Make sure to check out our "Fast Fix" daily videos. All the news you need in a 60- second (ish) video! 

Here's the page where they live.

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Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.

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