Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A National Tidal Wave? Dems Favored For House Takeover; NM Impact Analyzed, Plus: Lieberman Falls; Any Lessons? And: The Latest From The Trail 

The national pundits are starting to ring the bell on this election and House Republicans are not liking the sound. In New Mexico talk is beginning to circulate of the possibility that GOP House Reps Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson could, for the first time, find themselves serving in the minority party, assuming they both win re-election.

One of the more thoughtful, nonpartisan analysts I have followed over the years is D.C.'s Charlie Cook and his Cook Report. He is not known for aggressive predictions, but is now saying House R's are going down in what appears to be a "tidal-wave" election.

"In terms of the political climate, the facts are clear. All of the traditional diagnostic indicators in major national polls taken in the past 10 days show numbers consistent with an electoral rout...Democrats will have a strong turnout advantage--it is very clear that they are more motivated than Republicans. In a very large tidal-wave election, as this one appears to be, it would not be unusual to see all toss-ups go to one party, along with a few from the leaning column as well." Penned Cook for the National Journal.

For NM's Pearce and Wilson the Cook analysis is a dreadful fate to ponder. For Dem Tom Udall of the North it is a long-held dream with finally the potential to become reality.

A House Dem takeover would certainly make serving in the House less appealing to Pearce and Wilson, but with their party in charge of all three branches of government, and a majority of Americans not happy about it, they will probably be grateful if they simply survive re-election. There's still three months to go. Let's see if the worm turns.


As for the impact on our state, in a Dem controlled House Udall would be expected to step-up and carry more water. In the Senate, the GOP keeping control is more likely which means Senator Domenici will remain our go-to guy. But if the Dems take the senate, Senator Bingaman, a likely re-elect winner, will take the ball and chair Senate Energy, as he did when the D's last controlled the upper chamber.

It's not just high gas prices, the out-of-control Iraq War, the insecure economy and the iffy condition healthcare that's driving the desire for change. Polls show a significant block of voters are wary of one party controlling the entire USA government. Checking the party in power is an American tradition. It is a tradition likely to be restored come Election Day.

Ned Lamont
Did we see the first ripples of the tidal wave to come last might? Maybe. It's not everyday day that a sitting U.S. Senator is given his walking papers by members of his own party. But it happened to Connecticut Joe Lieberman who fell to Ned Lamont. The Alligators checking in here late in the evening said the turnout was the most important number in weighing what impact, if any, the election has on the Wilson-Madrid face-off. They pointed out that 42% of Connecticut's Democrats turned out, high by any standards and a sign that at least the liberal base is very energized. That can't hurt Madrid.

Lieberman's ability to close the gap--he lost by four points--heartened Heather supporters who said it demonstrated the power of incumbency. Still, another offered that the defeat of Lieberman has to "send a shiver down the spines" of all incumbents, including Heather's. Hard to argue with that.

From this corner, last night reminded me of 1968 and watching the returns from the New Hampshire Prez primary in which President Johnson was almost defeated by the anti-war candidate of that day, Eugene McCarthy. Shortly after, Johnson withdrew from the race. McCarthy invigorated the anti-war movement and showed that the people are often way ahead of the politicians. (Just look at the national polls.) I suspect sentiment will grow even stronger against the Iraq war as a result of Lieberman's defeat.


Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Patsy Madrid moved to take the offensive against Heather who has been on the ethics attack since mid-July. Madrid hit with the powerful issue of high gas prices, and put the blame on Wilson who she slammed for being in the pockets of the oil companies.

(We've posted Madrid's ads because they are available. Wilson's ads are not on the Web and her campaign, to my knowledge, has not been distributing them to media outlets.)

The most gripping image in the latest Madrid spot is the billboard showing the prices well over $3 a gallon. That simple sign effectively captures the rationale for political change and crystallizes why this race is likely to go down to the wire.

Heather picked up some "free media' this week on her ethics charges, enlisting the aid of former Guv Gary Johnson who said Attorney General Madrid was negligent in not pursuing corruption charges against state Treasurers Vigil and Montoya. Tuesday Madrid answered the Wilson onslaught with a sharply produced ad that declared: "Two attack ads, two lies."

The spots from both sides are powerful which leads me to believe that televised debates are going to be crucial for many voters in making a final decision. The candidates would be well-advised to keep their briefing books at their bedsides.

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