Why were the president and vice president campaigning last week for Christopher Coons, the Democrat’s Senate candidate in Delaware?
Delaware is an eleven-point race in favor of Coons, who is facing Christine O’Donnell, the most reviled GOP insurgent in the nation. Normally campaigns don’t send their big guns into blow-aways that they are winning and where the other candidate is receiving lukewarm, at best, support from her party’s official apparatus.
Here is a clue. Coons’ lead may be eleven points in the latest public poll, but not long ago it was twenty points. And despite the media selecting soundbites that cast her in as poor a light as possible, O’Donnell was by far the more impressive performer in the recent televised debate. Coons merely repeated Obama administration lines, word for word. O’Donnell knew her issues and never hesitated to come back at Coons and his allies in the White House. Worse for him, Coons didn’t seem capable of fielding the balls she hit his way, at one point whining that his college Marxism was just a joke.
This year’s dynamic is playing out most tellingly in debates. The O’Donnell-Coons match up is one. In a race that Real Clear Politics rates among the most likely Democrat wins, the Republican is the decidedly more confident, incisive, and assertive debater.
Another example is the Sharon Angle-Harry Reid “man up” match up in Nevada. Everyone – Democrat and Republican – who has reviewed their evening of head butting gave the win to Angle, hands down. Again, the Republican challenger was more self-assure and cogent, scored more points, knew the issues better than, in this case, the Senate majority leader.
Handicapping the next Senate has become a Washington pastime. The city has already as much as conceded the House to the GOP. Betting now has the Senate staying in Democratic hands. Real Clear Politics forecasts the final seat count at 52 for the Democrats, 48 for the GOP (see http://tiny.cc/8ss4d).
But consider this. In its no-toss-up tally, RCP keeps West Virginia. Illinois, and California in Democratic hands. Its averaged of each state’s polls shows either a tie or the incumbent (in West Virginia the sitting governor) Democrat slightly ahead. But generally late-in-the-game undecideds break for the challenger. If voters know one candidate well and can’t make up their minds for him or her, odds are that at day’s end they go the other way. Then, too, in recent decades Republicans have often polled about five points worse than their final vote.
In West Virginia, ten percent of voters are undecided, in California eight percent are. Illinois’ undecideds total 18 percent of the likely electorate.
In apparent desperation the White House is throwing mud. The attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for having overseas members is the most recent example, a charge even The New York Times rejects.
Still, the Democrats may have a secret weapon. Politico headlined this week that Harry Reid is mounting the most lavishly funded get-out-the-vote drive in Nevada history. With the unions, particularly the teachers and public employee unions ready to spare no expense to save the Senate for the Democrats, the massive Reid effort will undoubtedly be duplicated all over the nation. That may in fact be the reason for the fatuous charges of GOP foreign funding, to divert media and opponents away from the scent of over-the-top, under-reported union and Democratic special interest group money going to ground games in the last weeks of the campaign.
Even so, it may not be enough to stop the tidal wave of opinion. Trillions upon trillions of new Federal spending have put the nation’s most fundamental finances in jeopardy. And all that money hasn’t even got us out of the recession. The President keeps invoking the “failed policies of the past.” But as nearly as anyone can tell, the policies that have failed are his and those of such allies as Barney Frank. After all, the housing crisis was a direct result of policies that Frank imposed on the government over the warnings and objections of the Bush administration.
Here is the key fact of 2010: Without a massive GOP victory, there will be no chance – zero – in the next two years of repealing Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial industry takeover legislation, stopping the spending of unspent stimulus money, extending current tax rates, cutting spending to balance the budget, reversing the rampant reign of recent regulation, and returning the Federal government to its constitutional limits.
All elections send signals. Some are clear, some not so clear – and margins matter. If action is to follow, the 2010 election must send a signal that is unmistakable. Why were the president and vice president in Delaware? To try to make sure it does not.