Creating people's geographies
Unless the Democratic grassroots rise up, Karl Rove may yet have the last laugh.
Guardian | October 20, 2006
I’ve been in a tiny minority of late – well, it’s been me and Karl Rove and a few others – who worry that the polls indicating a Democratic tsunami taking over both houses of Congress may be vastly overstating the likely result.
When NBC reports that “52% say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared with 37% who want Republicans to maintain power”, that’s both a misleading and irrelevant statistic. This is not a national election. It is about 500 individual elections, the vast majority of which are fixed by structural factors including gerrymandering, money, population disparities and the power of incumbency. I’ve beaten this horse to death , and the great Molly Ivins has picked it up, as have a few others.
This morning I happened upon another significant statistical analysis which states the problem as follows: “After their stunning loss of both houses of Congress in 1994, the Democrats have averaged over 50% of the vote in congressional races in every year except 2002, yet they have not regained control of the House. The same is true with the Senate: in the last three elections (during which 100 senators were elected), Democratic candidates have earned three million more votes than Republican candidates, yet they are outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate as well. 2006 is looking better for the Democrats, but our calculations show that they need to average at least 52% of the vote (which is more than either party has received since 1992) to have an even chance of taking control of the House of Representatives.”
Democrats bear a portion of the blame for this situation, particularly the Black Caucus, whose members insist on wasting millions of votes to give themselves assured majorities of up to 90%, including in the district where I happen to live. They conspire with Republicans under the Voting Rights Act to ensure big victories for themselves and close losses for their colleagues.
Another area where Democrats are always outmatched is money. That’s a given. Capital knows which side it’s on. But the problem is again, made worse, by individual interests.
As the blogger Chris Bowers noted using Open Secrets, he calculated that the 45 Democrats who are not facing a Republican opponent this November have $26,288,418 in their campaign bank accounts as of September 30th, 2006. He put together a web page that details the cash on hand for each of the 45 unopposed Democrats.
Bowers says “For the sake of comparison, the DCCC currently has $34,867,692 cash on hand, and the NRCC has $36,019,485 cash on hand. Further, Rahm Emmanuel apparently believes that Democrats are ahead, tied or competitive in 58 Republican held seats. The amount of money unopposed House Democrats are currently sitting on would equal $453,248.59 to each of those 58 districts.”
Where is that money going? Nowhere useful – unless the Democratic netroots/grassroots rise up and shame these people into making these poll numbers meaningful. Right now, I fear, Karl Rove may still have the last laugh.