Signs and omens

One of the most striking elements of public opinion over the past year and a half is its steady drift away from Obama and the Democrats. Wanting to believe, voters took a leap into the dark with Obama in 2008. It didn’t take them, or a critical component of them, long to conclude that they had been sold a bill of goods. The signs point to the voters’ intent to do something about it on November 2.
In a recent Telegraph column for British readers, Michael Barone explained why. Here is one pointed reason served up by Barone: “[The Democrats] passed a health care bill that was the most unpopular major legislation passed by Congress since the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.”
John Podhoretz summarizes the state of play a week before the election. “We’ve had 18 months of data points from many different sources that all tell the same story,” he writes. “Americans who vote have radically changed direction when it comes to which party they prefer….The buyer’s remorse on the part of those independents and Republicans who thought they’d give Barack Obama a shot is something entirely new.”
He adds: “We won’t know until Nov. 3 what all this means in terms of the size of the Republican victory in this election. We know it will be huge.” Here are a few signs of the reckoning that is to come.
According to the Hill, long-term Democratic incumbents are trailing their Republican opponents. “Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) is down 10 percentage points, while Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Chet Edwards (D-Texas) are each losing by 12. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who is serving his 13th term, is trailing by five.”
In a related story, the Hill reports on its survey17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts: “Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play.” North Dakota Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy appears to have climbed back in his rack against Rick Berg, as does South Dakota Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in her race against Kristi Noem.
Bu the wave may not be done building. Corroborating Podhoretz’s point, the Hill notes: “If anything, voter sentiment turned even more anti-establishment as the four weeks of polling progressed. The latest round gives Republicans the lead in six of 10 districts held by Democratic House veterans.” Jim Geraghty comments: “Herseth Sandlin and Pomeroy are each at 45 percent, and Hill is at 46 percent. They may lead in these polls, but I wouldn’t have their Washington office staffs buy too many green bananas.”
Republicans also appear poised to take a seat in Arkansas’s First Congressional District. Democratic Rep. Marion Barry gave up his seat rather than face the voters in his district this year. Republicans haven’t held the seat since Reconstruction. Andrew Stiles cites another Hill poll result, this one showing Republican candidate Rick Crawford leading Democrat Chad Causey by 12 among likely voters, with 17 percent undecided.
We took note when Victor Davis Hanson stepped out of his usual role to endorse the candidacy of his friend Chris Gibson in New York’s Twentieth Congressional District. Gibson is an outstanding candidate running a difficult race against Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy. Now the good news. Gibson leads by 9 in the latest Siena poll. Jim Geragthy comments here.
Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa is facing Andy Vidak in California’s Twenty-First Congressional Disrict. The seat has been held by Democrats since the 1992 redistricting. Vidak recently achieved Young Gun status in the program founded by Reps. Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan. The most recent SurveyUSA poll puts Vidak up 10 points over Costa, 52 to 42.
Finally, reader Guy Dawson writes about the race in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District, where Chip Cravaack is challenging 18-term incumbent Democratic porkmeister Jim Oberstar. On Sunday the Duluth News Tribune endorsed Cravaack. Speaking of signs, Dawson notes the prevalence of Cravaack’s lawn signs in the district, a point I have heard made by several residents:

Ever since your first post about the race I have been trying to gather some unscientific evidence on Cravaack’s chances to win the seat. I hunt with four guys from the Iron Range with two of them still living in the region. I spoke to one of my friends yesterday and he said he thinks Cravaack has a very good chance to win. His first comment was all of the Cravaack signs he has seen not only on the Iron Range but also in the Duluth area. His comment was this “was weird” to see this many signs for a Republican. He had also heard there was a straw poll conducted at one of the mines (a big union mine, he added) and Oberstar won but only by three votes. My friend said this was very surprising.
Over the weekend I was in Walker, Minnesota, visiting my parents and was surprised to see a Cravaack sign. My assumption was that the Eighth District did not extend that far west, but it does. It includes cities like Brainerd, Park Rapids and cities around Lake Mille Lacs. But I also see that it extends so far south that it just misses the outer ring suburbs of the twin cities….
Population changes on the Iron Range have required the district to be redrawn and Oberstar’s strength on the Range and Duluth seems to be weakening. If Cravaack can come close to holding even in those two areas I think he will be able to knock off Oberstar. This will be a race to watch next week.

We’ll be watching.

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