Skip to comments.Smackdown! By Independents & Moderates
Posted on 11/11/2006 5:19:08 PM PST by neverdem
On Election Day 2006, American voters did almost exactly what history would predict: giving a president in the sixth year of his administration a serious smackdown, as an electorate wary of politicians and parties hedged its bets and chose a divided government.
Since World War II, the parties that controlled the White House for two terms have lost an average of 29 House seats and six Senate seats in their second midterm elections.
This election fits tidily into that pattern. President Bush bucked another ubiquitous trap of modern presidents when he actually picked up Congressional seats for his party in the 2002 midterms, a little more than a year after 9/11. This year his luck ran out.
President Bush may have run into another historical buzz saw this year: the voters' predilection for divided government. Since Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, there have been only ten years in which one party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.
While the Republicans' losses this year are not any kind of historical aberration, it is clear that voters were voting on national issues and soundly protesting President Bush and his party. In CBS News exit polls, fully 60 percent said that national, not local, issues determined their vote. And 59 percent said they were either dissatisfied or angry with the Bush administration.
This election in large part was - as the Republicans had feared and the Democrats hoped - a referendum on President Bush. And President Bush lost.
Does this mean that the president will be a lame duck for his remaining two years?
Not necessarily. First of all, it's not like the president has been flying high for the past two or three years.
Support for the war in Iraq and Mr. Bush's national security policy has been steadily eroding in the electorate and Congress, where relatively little has been accomplished lately, and the most ambitious parts of the Bush domestic agenda have been held in check by Democrats and divisions in his own party.
Another thing to consider: sometimes, after large "Throw the bums out!" elections, moments of bipartisanship emerge.
"The first reaction after Democrats were wiped out in '94 was that it would be the end of the presidency for Clinton," said Norm Ornstein, a Congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative but officially non-partisan think tank. "But it ended up being a savior. Things got done."
After the GOP 1994 landslide, for example, Republicans worked with President Clinton to pass welfare reform legislation that had been debated for years.
That bipartisan moment was brief and only a few years later, the country was embroiled in impeachment hearings.
Conditions for cooperation are not exactly ripe now. "Bush will also have to work with Democratic leaders who don't like him and don't trust him," said Ornstein. "The feeling is mutual."
The events of Sept. 11, 2001, failed to generate a prolonged period of bipartisan cooperation and the hard truth is that it's difficult to envision a sustained period of pragmatic harmony emerging from what has been one of the nastiest midterm elections on record.
The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that $2.6 billion was spent on this election, much of it on television advertising and much of that on negative ads. And this year's negative ads were some of the dirtiest ever.
Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi may have a hard time bringing her party to the bargaining table.
"Pelosi will have a full-time job just keeping her caucus together," said Harrison Hickman, a Democratic pollster and CBS News consultant. "The Democrats are badly fractured on fundamental issues. The leadership is very much further to the left than the members."
The danger is that the campaign of '06 will simply continue under the name of "government." Many Democrats, for example, are dead set on a new round of aggressive hearings about everything from pre-war intelligence to homeland security to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The theater of Grand Congressional Inquisitions is generally an enemy of statesmanship.
And when it comes to the issue Democrats rode to victory on opposition to the war in Iraq there are no easy fixes or popular votes. "The Democrats now have to demonstrate they can get stuff done," Republican pollster Linda Divall, a consultant for CBS News, observed as the election results rolled in. "Especially on Iraq, which a lot of Democrats ran on, they have no solution, and now they will have to present some."
If the Democrats do end up with control of the Senate, the pressure to cooperate with the White House will be even greater.
The results of this election could convince politicians of both parties that cooperation, oddly enough, would be in their self-interest.
Why? Because exit polls show there's a large chunk of the electorate that is moderate, independent-minded and turned off by partisanship. In exit polls, 47 percent of voters described their views as moderate, 21 percent liberal and 32 percent conservative. And 61 percent of the moderates voted Democratic this year.
On party identification, 26 percent said they're Independent, which is in line with recent elections. But this year, Independents went Democratic by a 57-39 margin. That's what gave the day to Democrats. In the 2002 midterm, by contrast, Independents went Republican in a 48-45 split.
The bottom line: candidates ignore the middle and nonpartisan at their own peril.
Dick Meyer is the editorial director of CBSNews.com, based in Washington.
Then it's a psycho-cyclical thing, and not a referendum on any issue...
Without serious voter fraud in MO and VA the outcome would have been different.
When seeBS says that independents and moderates are needed, be suspicious.
Throw in that Catholics and Evangelicals switch to voting more Democratic this go around. If you consider how close things came, if the Republicans had only shown enough character to hold one of the various groups that they alienated, they could have pulled out another historic set of gains.
This is actually a pretty fair piece coming as it does from the DNC's shrillest mouthpiece, CBS.
..."independents" and "moderates" goes well with "hysterics," "indecisives" and generally, "socialists."
I keep hearing this about the independents and moderates. But the result is that the LIBERALS now have more power.
No, they won't. They absolutely do not have to.
War and foreign policy are the president's problems.
The Dems merely have to investigate, carp and whine and listen to the media sing their praises.
What a deal!
Oh they could do something- cut funding- and reap the universal disdain of the populace, but why on Earth would they be so foolish as to take the blame for the loss of Iraq onto their heads?
Better to feed their media more criticisms of what the president did and does to prepare the way for 2008.
Doesn't matter. The fact is that the radical left wing of the Democratic party is now in control of both houses of Congress, and we have a lame duck President.
Now that would be bad enough, but those radical leftists want to cut & run from those who want to kill us, and they also want to take our arms away at the same time.
Oh, I understand and agree with your assessment completely!
It's just interesting that there's a pattern to such voting, no matter which party is in office...
When it took six seats out of only 30 races, most of which were not really seriously in contention. In fact even the Fox analysts indicated that only 7 seats were in contention. The Dems won 6 of those 7. That's a serious smackdown, even considering that 2 of those were immensely close, while others were just close, outcomes.
Notice that none of Republicans who lost by such razor thin margins, when control of the Senate was at stake, bothered to ask for a recount or otherwise contested the election. The Dems will do that in a race for the county weed control authority.
Just a reflection on the normal American predilection to "Throw the Bums Out", which if the Dems were the Dems of Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, et. al, wouldn't be so bad, but with the leadership being of the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and She Who Must be Obeyed, along with lesser scary creatures like Fienstein, Schummer, and Rangel.. well it's damn frighting. Never before have such hard left characters controlled Congress, and the purse strings to our National Defense, at a time when we are at war with an implacable foe, one who can't easily be deterred, and must be fought.
I just call the moonbats sociopaths, it fits.
In exit polls, 47 percent of voters described their views as moderate, 21 percent liberal and 32 percent conservative. And 61 percent of the moderates voted Democratic this year."
That means that 28% of the electorate were moderates that voted Dem,
That means that 18% of the electorate were moderates that voted Republican.
Interesting - it means that the Democrats have more moderates than liberals in their voting base, but
Republicans have 2 to 1 ratio of conservatives to moderates.
Of course, these labels are subjective, but this balance is interesting. If the Democrats went massively moderate, they could be the dominant party ... but they cant, they need the liberal base.
Right. Clinton vetoed it twice before signing the same bill on the third go around in August, 1996 to avoid having it remain as an issue in the 1996 election.
And the Dems have been nibbling away at it ever since then.
A dem down in Florida is still contesting his congressional loss. Whining about voters not being able to find his name on the electronic machine and that's why he lost. So he wants to be the winner because he assumes those not voting really intended to vote for him.