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Republican Outlook For Midterms: Suddenly Dangerous
Rollcall ^ | July 18, 02 | Stuart Rothenberg

Posted on 07/19/2002 1:13:04 PM PDT by churchillbuff

July 18, 2002

Republican Outlook For Midterms: Suddenly Dangerous

While polling has not yet recorded a dramatic turn in public opinion against President Bush or the GOP, events of the past few weeks have substantially increased the likelihood that the 2002 midterm elections will resemble other midterms, when the president's party is on the defensive and suffers losses.

None of the individual business scandals or controversies surrounding Harken Energy or Halliburton alone would have been enough to damage the White House seriously. Enron had little or no partisan political fallout, though Democrats tried their best to demonize business and to connect the president and his party to the company's demise.

But, taken together, the recent rash of bad news - including a sinking stock market, concern about the economy's recovery, the demise of WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, and questions about administration officials' past business practices - is much more likely to affect the public opinion about the president.

Bush's overall strength in national polls has rested on public approval of his handling of international and security issues. His job approval numbers have generally tracked with public attitudes on his handling of the war on terrorism, not his handling of the economy.

As attention draws inward, to domestic issues in general and the economy in particular, voters are likely to reassess their evaluation of Bush. Self-identified Democrats are likely to become more partisan and more critical of his performance.

The risk for the Republicans is that some voters, even if they don't hold the president primarily responsible for their stock losses or for corporate fraud and mismanagement, will grow angry, frustrated or merely impatient with the negative news. If they do, they might decide to send a message of change to the president by voting against his party's candidates in November.

Even if GOP voters remain loyal to the president, all of the bad news could depress Republican turnout. And that could be enough to turn a neutral political election into a good Democratic year.

The fundamental problem for Bush is that for the next three and a half months he and his entire party could well be on the defensive, while Democratic candidates around the country press for more White House action and raise questions about the president's leadership.

For months, neither party has found a compelling message to move large numbers of voters. Democrats have been trying to recycle old issues that failed to deliver them a majority in the House in the past three elections. Social Security and prescription drug coverage, the two best Democratic issues, appear to have only limited appeal, especially since House Republicans passed their own prescription drug plan.

Republicans can claim legislative accomplishments, including the tax cut, education reform and airport security, but they have a relatively thin remaining agenda. GOP candidates for November have, so far, been stressing support for the president's leadership on the war on terrorism, but those hopefuls will have to come up with new campaign messages if domestic issues start to eclipse national security concerns among voters.

With accounting and business questions spooking Wall Street - and without a strong, highly regarded secretary of the Treasury (such as Robert Rubin) to calm investors and speak effectively for the administration - Bush has no easy answer to his developing political problems.

The anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks could give the president a breather from negative stories about domestic issues. And a stock market rally in the next few months and new evidence of a rebounding economy would, of course, relieve a great deal of pressure on the president and by implication on his party's candidates. But Bush cannot now assume that he is in control of the national agenda.

If Bush's job approval does drop and a generalized anxiety increases in the electorate, it could increase the number of Republican-held House seats in play this year and improve the prospects of Democratic candidates and open-seat hopefuls. That, in turn, would increase the odds of a Democratic net gain in November, including a gain large enough to win a House majority.

Still, the limited number of competitive House districts continues to cushion the GOP against major losses.

The impact of a "normal" midterm election on the fight for the Senate could be muted as well, though a weaker Bush couldn't be good news for Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Greg Ganske in Iowa, Jim Talent in Missouri, Tim Hutchinson in Arkansas and other Republican Senate candidates.

The bottom line is clear. Democratic prospects for House and Senate gains have improved in the past few weeks. And that should make the White House and the GOP campaign committees increasingly nervous.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; elections; stocks
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Bush won't call for bigger, sooner tax cuts. Like his dad, he stands-pat in the face of economic trouble, and he doesn't have an instinctive aversion to high taxes and regulations. He agrees with Daschle, for instance, that cap gains taxes shouldn't be cut. If the GOP suffers in the elections, don't be surprised.
1 posted on 07/19/2002 1:13:04 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff
"""taken together, the recent rash of bad news - including a sinking stock market, concern about the economy's recovery, the demise of WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, and questions about administration officials' past business practices - is much more likely to affect the public opinion about the president. """"

A lot of freepers are wishing it won't be so, but common sense suggests otherwise.

2 posted on 07/19/2002 1:14:48 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: churchillbuff
While polling has not yet recorded a dramatic turn in public opinion against President Bush or the GOP,

Solid fact.

events of the past few weeks have substantially increased the likelihood that the 2002 midterm elections will resemble other midterms, when the president's party is on the defensive and suffers losses.

Blatent speculation posing as "news."

4 posted on 07/19/2002 1:18:55 PM PDT by dead
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To: churchillbuff
Panic is not the friend of the Republicans, it's their teddy bear.
5 posted on 07/19/2002 1:19:55 PM PDT by Grut
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To: dead
Blatent speculation ..."

The writer admits it's speculation - - - but a hunch based on experience and common sense. Do you REALLY think a stock market crash (which is the only way to describe the 20 percent - or more drop this year) isn't gonna affect a lot of people's outlooks. I, for one, was a big Bush backer - and will vote for him again if he's the GOP standard bearer in 04 - - but I'm disgusted at his paltry and slow-motion tax cuts, and his wimpiness on a hundred other issues.

6 posted on 07/19/2002 1:22:34 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: Grut
Panic is not the friend of the Republicans, it's their teddy bear.""

Don't know what that means. I'm afraid a tanking stock market - which means disappearing 401-ks and IRAs - is gonna T-off a lot of voters against the GOP, or disspirit a lot of Republican voters, so they won't even turn up at the polls.

7 posted on 07/19/2002 1:24:30 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: dead
The following analyis by Rothenberg is offered as speculation, but it's a very reasonable speculation: "The risk for the Republicans is that some voters, even if they don't hold the president primarily responsible for their stock losses or for corporate fraud and mismanagement, will grow angry, frustrated or merely impatient with the negative news. If they do, they might decide to send a message of change to the president by voting against his party's candidates in November.

"Even if GOP voters remain loyal to the president, all of the bad news could depress Republican turnout. And that could be enough to turn a neutral political election into a good Democratic year"

8 posted on 07/19/2002 1:26:14 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff
While I don’t disagree with you, this article is a fairly worthless mish-mosh of “ifs” and “coulds” and “mights.”

He speculates:

substantially increased the likelihood…
is much more likely…
voters are likely…
Democrats are likely…
The risk for the Republicans is…
If they do, they might decide…
Even if GOP voters…
could depress Republican turnout...
could be enough…
could well be on the defensive…
could give the president…
would, of course, relieve…
If Bush's job approval…
it could increase…
would increase the odds…
could be muted…
couldn't be good news…

And concludes:

The bottom line is clear.

9 posted on 07/19/2002 1:28:59 PM PDT by dead
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To: dead
"With accounting and business questions spooking Wall Street - and without a strong, highly regarded secretary of the Treasury (such as Robert Rubin) to calm investors and speak effectively for the administration - Bush has no easy answer to his developing political problems."

Do you really think this paragraph is Demo spin? Do you really believe that O'Neill is a substantial figure in any sense, or that any other Bush economic advisor commands attention or a calming influence on the nation? If so, you must be smoking greenbacks.

10 posted on 07/19/2002 1:30:22 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: dead
IMHO, all the issues raised in the article point to the need to have a solid Republican majority in the House, and the same in the Senate.

Many people realize that a lot of these issues can be traced back to Clinton policies, and the Democrats have hindered GWB's attempts to fix them.

But, unfortunately, most voters get their info from the same news sources that claim Republicans want to "starve children" and "kill the elderly".
11 posted on 07/19/2002 1:32:53 PM PDT by babyface00
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To: churchillbuff; Poohbah; Miss Marple; MeeknMing; Grampa Dave; Coop
For a Winston Churchill buff, I detect a lot of sentiments that seem more suited to Frank Jack Fletcher that Mr. Churchill. Yes, there is concern about the market, but the key is to first, reassure a lot of the average folks with the 401Ks, and THEN, once they have been reassured, to work on the other parts of the problem.

One does not get an MBA from Harvard by being stupid. The stock market's got its problems, but the economy itself is looking good - particularly the growth rate. The fact is, Bush has to clean up a mess that occured because Bill Clinton was more interested in scoring with interns and raking in campaign money than he was in dealing with serious problems.

The RNC is going to start hitting back, and I think the way Bush does things is going to, for the most part, neutralize this issue. Furthermore, if the Dems keep up the politics of economic destruction, they'll end up paying for it. We just have to get the facts out there, and we have to solve a couple of problems that have been allowed to fester during the Clinton-Gore tenure.
12 posted on 07/19/2002 1:33:16 PM PDT by hchutch
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To: churchillbuff
I've seen Mr. Rothenberg on CNN several times. He's essentially Bill Schneider + 5 IQ points. He is definitely not a sage.

Midterm usually have dismal turnouts and not much changes. It's only when voters are motivated (1994 Congressional elections) that this swing occurs.

I think this is more of Mr. Rothenbergs wet dream than reality.

13 posted on 07/19/2002 1:33:18 PM PDT by Lance Romance
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To: churchillbuff
What's going to cost the Republicans in the next few issues are blatant liberal policy shifts (I won't enumerate them here; we know about them). We're not stupid out here in the boonies, and know when an Administration is screwing us over. Add to conservative disenchantment a falling economy and no obvious closure to 9/11, and they're going to lose, lose, lose. (And I say good--see if they can replace me with a Mexican insta-citizen.)
14 posted on 07/19/2002 1:33:51 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: dead
Let me help you with some of this, and translate Rothenberg for you: The GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate has dropped from 45% to 25%; the GOP's chances of losing control of the House has increased from 20% to 40%. I hope that helps.
15 posted on 07/19/2002 1:35:03 PM PDT by Torie
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To: churchillbuff
When in hell did Robert Rubin "calm the nation"?

That's the stupidest thing I've read in a long time.

16 posted on 07/19/2002 1:37:25 PM PDT by sinkspur
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To: churchillbuff
When in hell did Robert Rubin "calm the nation"?

That's the stupidest thing I've read in a long time.

17 posted on 07/19/2002 1:37:25 PM PDT by sinkspur
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To: churchillbuff
While I would like Bush to push for more substantial tax cuts (capital gains, rates across the boards), how can you be certain that that crusade will be an election year winner? (It absolutely won't be a legislative winner. Considering the current makeup of the Senate, the idea is dead-on-the-vine.)

It will be spun by the democrats and the media as a further giveaway for "his rich buddies in business."

I'd still like him to do it, because its the right thing to do, but I'm not going to delude myself that it's a political can't-miss.

The safer political strategy is do nothing. And no matter what his efforts, "nothing" is the reality regarding the amount of tax cuts we'll see passed before November.

18 posted on 07/19/2002 1:38:36 PM PDT by dead
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To: hchutch
Exactly. I think the people who are in the market and have lost out have been sufficiently warned that they have no one to blame but themselves, and in their heart of hearts know that the "good thing" under Clinton was corruption and greed run rampant.

I think the GOP/Bush have a good case in saying they started the road to sanity by not allowing the graft and weasel tricks instituted under Sleazy Bill to continue, even if this brought down the market.

Hats off to Bush and his gang for having the guts and being willing to take the blame

19 posted on 07/19/2002 1:39:18 PM PDT by chilepepper
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To: churchillbuff
The Republicans would do just fine if they got the following message out:

Show charts of the stock market pre-election 1994 and post-election 1994.

The big boom in the economy and stock market for which Bill Clinton took credit only occurred AFTER the Republicans took control of Congress.

For his first two years, Clinton was floundering and the economy was like a ship without a rudder.

If Republicans would make this clearly transparent argument, they could make big gains in November.

Will they?

No, because they are too lazy and too stupid and too gentle.

President Bush should make it an issue, because if he doesn't rally the base, his goose will be cooked in 2004.

20 posted on 07/19/2002 1:41:46 PM PDT by CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
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To: sinkspur
When in hell did Robert Rubin "calm the nation"?

In a random poll, could more than 10% even tell you who Robert Rubin is?

21 posted on 07/19/2002 1:43:13 PM PDT by hopespringseternal
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To: churchillbuff
He completely misses what is likely to be the most significant political event between now and the election--a beginning, if not an end, to the regime change in Iraq. Once this starts, expect the market to take off as the uncertainty ends, and the Dems chances to collapse.
22 posted on 07/19/2002 1:44:19 PM PDT by NonZeroSum
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To: churchillbuff
...and without a strong, highly regarded secretary of the Treasury (such as Robert Rubin) to calm investors and speak effectively for the administration -...

Bah! Rubin is the creator of the market bubble that is exploding as we speak.
He should be investigated himself for the highly questionable and totally unethical phone calls he placed to Treasury under secretary Peter Fisher.
23 posted on 07/19/2002 1:44:21 PM PDT by MamaLucci
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To: churchillbuff
Let's boil this down: Nothing has happened to Bush's popularity with the American people, BUT something could happen and it MIGHT be bad for the GOP.

When the anniversary of 9-11 comes along, with some military action against Iraq and the corp certifications are in, and the world doesn't end and the PE ratios are back at historical norms, and the accounting reforms are passed, the market will start ot recover.

Bush will take credit.

Liberial Stew is doing some carping on behalf of the DNC to try and form public opinion. No Big Deal.
24 posted on 07/19/2002 1:47:38 PM PDT by Leto
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To: All
Let's see. We've got Senator Bundgaard (R-Glendale, AZ) running for the US House seat being vacated by Bob Stump. Bundgaard is for lower taxes, school choice, is pro-life, pro-2nd Ammend., and the list goes on.

Visit his site on where he stands:

http://www.bundgaard.com/issues/ontheissues.asp

How can a guy like this lose?

Sure beats the heck out of John Keegan who is also running for this house seat! He's just been accused of plagiarising with regard to where he stands on the issues! I wonder how Mrs. Graham-Keegan (former Supt. of Public Instruction-AZ) feels knowing what her husband has done?

25 posted on 07/19/2002 1:47:55 PM PDT by hsmomx3
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To: CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
The Republicans would do just fine if they got the following message out:
Show charts of the stock market pre-election 1994 and post-election 1994.
The big boom in the economy and stock market for which Bill Clinton took credit only occurred AFTER the Republicans took control of Congress.

While I understand the sentiment, I don’t think that message is going to convince fence-sitters to go Republican, considering the current state of the stock-market.

If you’re going to give the GOP credit for the boon, they have to get credit for the bust, as well.

26 posted on 07/19/2002 1:48:12 PM PDT by dead
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To: Torie; sinkspur
The GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate has dropped from 45% to 25%; the GOP's chances of losing control of the House has increased from 20% to 40%.

I'd disagree with both of these sets of odds, although of course it's still speculation this far out. I think the GOP's greatest risk is at the governor level. They have 23 incumbent seats to defend, and a ton of incumbent governors of both parties are not doing well in the polls. Voters are apparently blaming them, not the President, Senate and Congress, for their problems right now. Will this hurt the House or Senate races? Sure, it could. Or close governor races may improve turnout in various races, helping either party.

Having said all that, I think in Nov the GOP will still end up with governors of the nation's four largest states, even if it may no longer have a majority.

27 posted on 07/19/2002 1:52:15 PM PDT by Coop
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To: Coop
I'd disagree with both of these sets of odds

OK, you can out yourself now. What are you odds?

28 posted on 07/19/2002 1:54:20 PM PDT by Torie
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To: churchillbuff
Actually, Bush's second term will be assured if he pulls of two critcally important feats: end Saddam's life and present us with Osama's head on a platter (or the media equivalent). Hoping the boobs equate tax cuts with presidential success is a wet dream, but they'll wake up when two dead, evil enemies are terminated.
29 posted on 07/19/2002 1:55:33 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: NonZeroSum
Bingo! According to Ha'aretz, the US in planning to attack Iraq in mid-August. If that's true, then what you say holds, as well as a little distraction which will keep panicked investors from selling. In any case, even if the market begins an upswing in September, suddenly the GOP is in great shape.
30 posted on 07/19/2002 1:59:53 PM PDT by AmishDude
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To: Torie
Rats! You weren't supposed to ask! ;-p

Disclaimer: We still have a long way to go. This prediction expires August 15th.

But I'd say the GOP's chance at taking back the Senate is 50/50, and for holding onto the House it's about 75/25. I've been impressed with the Dem Senator fundraising, but unimpressed with their performance in the polls. They've simply got more incumbents on life support (to borrow a phrase from Sen. Frist, I think) than the GOP does. I think the GOP benefits from three things: redistricting bought them a couple of seats, redistricting also protected all but a handful (relatively speaking) of seats, and the GOP does and will have more money to spend. (I could see the GOP losing House seats, but not losing control of the House.)

There. Aren't you impressed with my highly scientific predictions?

31 posted on 07/19/2002 2:00:27 PM PDT by Coop
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To: warchild9
Wanna bet?
32 posted on 07/19/2002 2:02:20 PM PDT by Digger
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To: Coop
I could see the GOP losing House seats, but not losing control of the House.)

Since the GOP has only a 7 seat pad, your precision is impressive.

33 posted on 07/19/2002 2:02:52 PM PDT by Torie
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: churchillbuff
IMHO Tax cuts sooner aren't going to save the Republicans.... Bush and Republicans sealed their fate when they made themselves the defender of corporate corruption in the past few weeks... like it or not the stock market fiasco is a mess, and republican leaders are not out going after the "economic terrorists" who have done more harm to america that 9/11 at least in terms of pure dollars.... Like it or not the Republicans are making themselves look like fools to middle america on this one..

A corrupt businessman is a corrupt businessman, they should be vehemently going after punishing and making it tougher for such shenanegans to continue going on or go on in future.. Republican's and Bush both misplaying their hands on this one, and its going to hurt em.
35 posted on 07/19/2002 2:07:30 PM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: Torie
Since the GOP has only a 7 seat pad, your precision is impressive.

Sorry to have offended you.

36 posted on 07/19/2002 2:09:16 PM PDT by Coop
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To: warchild9
Actually Bush's daddy falsely believed winning a war would protect him from a letch from Arkansas.. it didn't.. Don't be so sure Bush performing in the war will save his job.
37 posted on 07/19/2002 2:09:23 PM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: churchillbuff
COUNTER ATTACK, Dammit, by tying Dims to the trial lawyers!

The perception is that Dubya couldn't, and can't, move forward on tort reform (originally planned to be included in the first State of the Union speech) because of Cheney's connection with Halliburton.

Cheney engineered the purchase of a company while he was at Halliburton that ended up having huge liabilities wrt asbestos lawsuits. (This was as a result, if I understand correctly, of an intervening legal descision that basically allowed asbestos litigators to go after any company with even the most tenuous, indirect or historical connections to asbestos production or installation.) THIS is one of the main factors (probably something like 50 percent responsible) that caused Halliburton stock to crash in 2000/2001.

The perception is that if Bush pushes tort reform he will be seen as defending big business and CEOs like his own V.P. Cheney. But, if Bush does push tort reform, and the Dims squeal about Bush comming to the rescue of big business, this will provide an opportunity to do what the media by and large refused to do (with a few exceptions such as the Wall Street Journal): to clue the public in to the huge role out-of-control tort actions have had in destroying hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs, AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF STOCK VALUE.

Trial lawyers donate overwhelmingly to Dims. Along with the NEA, other federal unions, and big labor, they are THE major constinuency of the Dims. This is a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to tie the Dims to loses in corporate value, and thereby in the value of Americans' IRAs!!!

38 posted on 07/19/2002 2:12:43 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Coop
Well, they're probably going to lose TWO here in Maryland alone -- even if we elect a GOP governor!
39 posted on 07/19/2002 2:16:22 PM PDT by mdwakeup
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To: CROSSHIGHWAYMAN
The problem in the House and Senate is that the GOP has no leadership. Those on top appear to have gained those roles by attrition, rather than skill. They know they can't lead so they sit back and do all they can to just hold on to their seats. The GOP needs leadership who can bring forward and sell ideas to the fold. I am sure that Newt didn't come up with the "Contract" all by himself, where the heck are the rest of the people who worked on it? Why not just bring it forward again, replacing the article that actually passed with new ones.
40 posted on 07/19/2002 2:16:33 PM PDT by Brad C.
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To: sinkspur
The "calming" effect Robert Rubin had, I suspect, was to tell Wall Street preciely what they wanted to hear when they wanted to hear it. Wall St. opened their wallets come election time.
41 posted on 07/19/2002 2:17:39 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: dead
Blatent speculation posing as "news."

At the precinct meeting yesterday turnout was light. So light that if I wished I could be a Republican bigwig today. I'd say there is a lack of enthusiasm. Maybe it's the same with other parties excepting the Greens, because Greens are a fun party even if they don't remember their precinct meeting any better than they remember the 60s.

42 posted on 07/19/2002 2:22:03 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: Torie
Let me help you with some of this, and translate Rothenberg for you: The GOP's chances of taking control of the Senate has dropped from 45% to 25%; the GOP's chances of losing control of the House has increased from 20% to 40%. I hope that helps.

This is a level-headed translation of his analysis - - and it's a plausible analysis.

43 posted on 07/19/2002 2:22:36 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: Coop
No, I didn't mean to suggest that. Sorry if I offended you.
44 posted on 07/19/2002 2:26:45 PM PDT by Torie
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: RightWhale
At the precinct meeting yesterday turnout was light. So light that if I wished I could be a Republican bigwig today. I'd say there is a lack of enthusiasm

Not a good sign.

46 posted on 07/19/2002 2:43:11 PM PDT by churchillbuff
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To: churchillbuff
Even though four candidates said they would come up to introduce themselves, only two showed. Another one sent a rep. Even three of the officers didn't make it. I might end up in charge of this mess by default if it gets much worse. The primary is not even a month away.
47 posted on 07/19/2002 2:50:49 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: William Creel
They will sell at the drop of a hat...

Most have suffered more than 33% drop in their portfolio, only a fool would hold on to a sinking ship. If you lose 50% you must gain 100% just to get even this probably won't occur in your grandchildren’s life.

48 posted on 07/19/2002 2:51:08 PM PDT by TightSqueeze
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To: babyface00
Many people realize that a lot of these issues can be traced back to Clinton policies, and the Democrats.

The truth is that many people made a lot of money during the Clinton years. Today many of those same people are out of work and holding retirement portfolios that are worth half of what they were worth when Bush was sworn in. Only a blind fool would believe this won’t affect how people vote.

49 posted on 07/19/2002 2:58:30 PM PDT by TightSqueeze
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To: warchild9
Actually, Bush's second term will be assured if he pulls of two critcally important feats: end Saddam's life and present us with Osama's head on a platter (or the media equivalent).

Only if he does it a week before the elections, do you think people really give a rats ass what happens in those hell holes, people only care about the issues that effect them directly, the rest is fluff.

50 posted on 07/19/2002 3:03:06 PM PDT by TightSqueeze
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