Cook Thinks Dem Loss of Senate Unlikely

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2008-10-31MSNBCRFTWHCook.jpgCharlie Cook, who was the first major political commentator to note that the Republicans would come roaring back probably taking the House of Representatives, thinks that the Senate will most likely stay in Democratic hands.
Cook gives some context to the blurred conditions in the Senate races which are collectively harder to read than the onslaught coming in the House. Here is a clip from a full report in the new National Journal:

There is no clear narrative in the Senate, just bizarre ups and downs. Republicans could easily find themselves picking up as “few” as seven or as many as 10 seats. An 8-seat pickup seems about right, but that is not written with a great deal of confidence; there are way too many races separated by very few points. In some cases it is weak GOP candidates who are causing the red team to underperform, in others it is because some of these battles are in states less hospitable to the GOP.
The strong Republican tailwind that exists in much of the country is not so strong in California and Washington, and there are higher and more durable Democratic bases in states like Illinois and Pennsylvania that keep Democrats in the hunt. It is not uncommon to hear strategists say that if the environment for House Republicans is so good (or so bad for House Democrats), then the GOP gains could get truly massive and those dynamics would likely tip the closest Senate races in the same direction.
There is probably some merit to that argument. But it also seems that the problem-children candidates for Senate Republicans have been called out more than their House GOP counterparts. The GOP candidates with more exotic backgrounds and blemishes seem to be paying a greater price for it in the Senate than in the House. We will know for sure soon enough.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Cook Thinks Dem Loss of Senate Unlikely

  1. Cheap Jordans says:

    nice

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    “However, when things
    go bad, the free market fundamentalists *always* blame it on
    regulations and government interference – as if everything
    would run smoothly if the inherent, godlike wisdom of the
    marked could function completely uninterrupted by anything
    outside itself.” (Paul Norheim)
    Did Milton Friedman ever claim that free markets were immune from things going wrong? Not at all.
    What he said was that attempt to order market outcomes by regulatory fiat was going to make things even worse.
    Note that this is not a demand for NO regulation. There is a big difference between ‘referee’ regulation, where government tries to make the market play fair and square according to known rules, and ‘pick favorites’ regulation, where government tries to pick the winners and tilt the playing field in their favor.
    It is picking winners and legislating outcomes that is corrupt, as it ensures the players will stop playing the game and concentrate on sucking up to the government referee, who has the power to decide whether they make millions or go out of business.
    As Thomas Sowell said the other day with regard to Obamacare:
    “Those who are constantly telling us that our economic problems are caused by not enough “regulation” never distinguish between regulation which simply enforces known rules, as contrasted with regulation that gives arbitrary powers to the government to force others to knuckle under to demands that have nothing to do with the ostensible purposes of the regulation.
    As more businesses reveal that they are considering no longer buying health insurance for their employees, as a result of higher costs resulting from ObamaCare legislation, the administration has announced that it can grant waivers that reduce these costs.
    But the power to grant waivers is the power to withhold waivers– an arbitrary power that can impose millions of dollars in costs on businesses that the administration doesn’t like.”

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    “But what you don’t understand is that free marketers, unlike
    communists, are not pushing dreams of utopia, but a
    functional path to prosperity…”
    I disagree, if we talk about the free market fundamentalists
    (and there have been many of them during the last decades).
    They are all pushing unrealistic, Platonic dreams.
    History has proved that free markets function much better than
    a commando economy a la the Soviet Union of former Eastern
    Europe – there is no doubt about that. However, when things
    go bad, the free market fundamentalists *always* blame it on
    regulations and government interference – as if everything
    would run smoothly if the inherent, godlike wisdom of the
    marked could function completely uninterrupted by anything
    outside itself. As if the market is infallible in itself. There is a
    certain highly unrealistic idealism in this credo that has striking
    parallels to utopian dreams on the extreme left. It is faith-
    based.
    Look: when governments become too big, things go really bad,
    we agree on that. The absolutization of the state transforms it
    into a monster; the totalitarian states on the left and the right
    in the middle of the 20th century, from Berlin to Moscow, from
    Rome to Beijing, are among the worst examples of this so far.
    But this doesn’t imply that everything will be fine and dandy if
    we only get rid of the government! That’s an extremely naive
    and unrealistic assumption. Free markets left to their own
    forces can create chaos; corporations can grow so big that they
    become monsters.
    So here is my credo: you have to to balance and play all these
    potentially dangerous forces against each other, to avoid that
    no single entity becomes too big or run amok. And I believe
    that the idolization of free and unregulated markets has been a
    part of the problem in the last decade, just like totalitarianism
    was the problem 6-7-8 decades ago.
    1918: End of Old Europe’s Family of Imperial Monarchies (more
    or less).
    1945: End of Fascism and Nazism (I hope).
    1989: End of Communism (I hope).
    2008: End of Free Market Fundamentalism (I hope – and God
    knows what will eventually replace it…)
    20XX: End of Islamism – another tragic attempt to cope with
    modernity – just like Communism and Nazism were largely, as I
    see it, responses to the same transformation.
    As for the increasingly corrupt American system, markets and
    the information industry, money and politics, democracy and
    several powerful lobbies etc are so intertwined, that
    distinguishing between “government” on one hand and
    corporations and markets on the other, can never become more
    than an empty academic exercise. You’ll never find one entity
    in some pure, virgin form.
    We all know that certain huge segments of the so called “free”
    market are not only dependent on, but almost entirely created
    by government influence – the “military-industrial-
    congressional complex” is among the most obvious examples –
    – and vise versa. How can you keep demonizing “government
    interference”, and insist on “free” markets in sectors like, say
    production of bullets, tanks, helicopters, submarines, missiles,
    nuclear reactors, chemical weapons, biological weapons,
    computer software – in short: the production of military
    equipment – when the basis of this production depends
    completely on decisions made in the White House, the
    Pentagon, and Congress?
    Ah, the Government creates the “demand”, right? But then you
    have to ask: who is it that influences the Government in ways
    that put pressure on them to create that demand, and so forth.
    These entities are so intertwined and “interfere” in each others’
    spheres to such a degree that they are almost indistinguishable
    in huge sectors of American politics and economy.
    The Free Market and the invisible hand is nothing but Platonic
    ideas and metaphors.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    I know Paul. But what you don’t understand is that free marketers, unlike communists, are not pushing dreams of utopia, but a functional path to prosperity with a good track record wherever it is tried, imperfect or bumpy as that record may be. Look at Poland post 1989. Look at Chile. Look at the Israeli economy after Netanyahu lifted the socialist restrictions on it around 20 years ago.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Albania… Romania perhaps?
    Just joking. My comment about “genuine” communism was
    ironic, paraphrasing believers who said that Soviet
    communism was the corrupt version, not the real thing.

    Reply

  6. nadine says:

    “Sure. And what collapsed in 1989 was not real, genuine
    communism.”
    So find me some examples of real, genuine communism and we’ll look at it.
    Meantime, you don’t have to chase illusions to find something resembling a market in mortgages — just go back 20 years to the market bubble and bust at the end of the 1980s. Free markets do form bubbles, which bust, which then recover, fairly quickly if they are left alone.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    “The 2008 Market that crashed was very far from free.”
    Sure. And what collapsed in 1989 was not real, genuine
    communism.

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    Paul, what we are talking about is the leftist illusion of perfection: that any imperfections viewed an any market system can be corrected by just a little more “modest legal tinkering and regulation”.
    And when the Law of Unintended Consequences rears its ugly head, then the answer is never to repeal the legal tinkering, but the “fix” it with more here, more there — until there is a market collapse somewhere, which is always taken for an indictment of the free, unfettered market.
    The 2008 Market that crashed was very far from free. The entire subprime mortgage segment (over $1 Trillion dollars!) would never have existed in the first place if it hadn’t been required by government (in the form of the Community Reinvestment Act) and backed by Treasury dollars (in the form of Fannie and Freddie, who were in fine shape, we were assured, until the day they collapsed). The government supplied the Chunnel-sized loophole and the mortgage banks drove through it.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Ah, so perfection is in the mind of those who criticize laissez
    faire marked capitalism? As a matter of fact, the “imagined
    Perfection” resided in the feverish minds of the marked
    fundamentalists. A framework with no government interference
    would allow the free markets to function perfectly – that was
    their credo from the Reagan/Thatcher years, until the events of
    2008 demonstrated that this was just the last in a long list of
    Utopian dreams.
    Just like 1989 was the year The Great Communist Utopia died,
    2008 was the year The Great Marked Fundamentalist Utopia
    died. What is left now of the fatal utopian dreams of the 20th
    century, is the equally flawed Islamist purification of societies
    infected by modernity. 20 years from now, that religious
    utopian vision will probably be something of the past –
    compromised, just like marked fundamentalism and
    communism.
    By the way, Jon Stewart did a good job interviewing Obama on
    the Daily Show. Nothing on foreign policy though.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/obama-daily-
    show-jon-stewart-interview_n_775102.html

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    “The lesson we have had to re-learn in our time, the lesson both Roosevelts understood, is that laissez faire market capitalism is not self-regulating, but is an inherently unstable system. ” (Dan Kerwick)
    No, the lesson we have to re-learn is that government interference that goes beyond efforts to assure integrity (accounting standards, etc) and tries to achieve end-states, makes the whole system less stable and more corrupt. You have this imagined Perfection in mind which you have made the enemy of the Good.

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t think a 20-to-1 rule would interfere very much with the operation of the price mechanism in the labor market, Nadine. It doesn’t require anybody to pay anyone some preset number of dollars. It only requires limits on the range of salary variation within a firm. Nor do I think higher marginal tax rates would have much of a detrimental effect. We might lose a little bit of executive talent abroad to those few countries in which these free agents gypsies could make more money. But people with such motivations are selfish parasites anyway, with no deep commitment to their communities and fellow-citizens. So good riddance to them.
    In any case, people are not simply imputs or “human resources” in our economy. They are the ends *for* which the economy exists, not just so many fleshy tools *by* which the economy exists. If the imposition of salary rules interferes a little bit with the coldly efficient sorting and allocation of labor talent to the ideally functional slots, so be it. There are other values to be weighed and balanced besides sheer aggregate efficiency. I would rather stay with my family in New Hampshire than be allocated by the labor market somewhere else.
    The lesson we have had to re-learn in our time, the lesson both Roosevelts understood, is that laissez faire market capitalism is not self-regulating, but is an inherently unstable system. It is no more self-regulating than a nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear reactions, when regulated and contained, can be wonderful sources of energy and power. But when the containment fails, these reactions destroy and poison everything around them, even the conditions for their own continuation.
    We have seen over the past few decades that mere markets left to their own unregulated devices tend toward monopolization, social and economic imbalances, and increasingly reckless Ponzi investment schemes. They are also a democracy-dissolving acid that rips apart the institutional structures holding societies together, atomizes and isolates individuals and undermines families, love, trust and human camaraderie.

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    “With some modest legal tinkering and regulation, we can create a system in which companies are compelled to distribute more of their revenue in salary to the bulk of their employees, and less to to the people at the tip top. …If the restrictions are applied across the board to all firms, then no firm will be at a competitive disadvantage to other firms.” (Dan Kervick)
    Because the federal bureaucrats doing the “modest legal tinkering and regulation” all went to Haaaaahvad and know best what everybody should be paid in every business. Does that go only for America or for the entire globe?
    “Salaries are not set by the magical and omnipotent Market. They are set by human beings making fallible and imperfectly rational decisions. We have seen in recent years just how irrational – and sometimes corrupt – those decisions can be, So nobody, including the tea partiers, should have any market-worshiping illusions left.”
    Whereas decision making that is controlled by politicians and government bureaucrats is never irrational or corrupt, right? And, as I have pointed out to you in vain more than once, the existing market in nearly any sector you care to name is very far removed from unfettered, unregulated capitalism.
    “This country was extremely prosperous during the period following the war, when income was more evenly distributed, top marginal tax rates were much higher, and much more demanding labor protections worked together to create and advance the great American middle class”
    Yes, this country was extremely prosperous during the period when almost the entire industrialized world outside of North America was smashed to pieces and rebuilding from scratch. We’re not likely to be able to replicate those conditions. At least I hope not.
    Dan, do you know anything about the history of wage and price controls? They never work as intended. That’s because they cannot. The decision makers don’t have enough information to make good decisions, even supposing they were angels of disinterest, which of course they are not. The regulators have to guess at the answers, the regulatees have lots of money to try to steer the answers to their liking — the whole setup is ripe for massive corruption.

    Reply

  13. silverslipper says:

    Dan Kervick – Maybe we should focus on limiting the Representatives and Senators and President and etc…. government officials from becoming millionaires! Poor Harry Reid just couldn’t explain very well in his debate how he has become so rich! LOL!
    Why do our Representatives and Senators get to give themselves a raise even when they don’t give a increase in social security payments for senior citizens? Why do they get pensions for the rest of their lives (and I’m pretty sure that’s even if they go to jail!)? Are they that wonderful??? I don’t think so..

    Reply

  14. John says:

    Thanks for the info ! I enjoyed your post !

    Reply

  15. Dan Kervick says:

    “Is that what you think the tea partiers want?”
    No, they don’t want the money. But they want to set the country’s economic policy. And that’s what they are not going to be permitted to do.
    “They are fine with the rich being rich.”
    They should change their attitude on that. It is true that poor people don’t give people jobs – the owners and management of businesses do that. But that remains true whether the owners and operators of those business are making $10 million a year or $200 thousand a year. A lot of Americans have swallowed a lot of myths about the size of the incentive that is necessary to get people to do the top executive work and creative brain work necessary to run and grow successful companies, large or small. But the size of the income gap is now far too large, and the incentives are now far more extravagant than they need to be. These extravagant salaries and profits represent a wasteful, uneconomical drain on the productive output of Americans, and an unwarranted redistribution of income upward.
    With some modest legal tinkering and regulation, we can create a system in which companies are compelled to distribute more of their revenue in salary to the bulk of their employees, and less to to the people at the tip top. Hard-working Americans whose incomes have stagnated for years – and I imagine that includes some of the tea partiers – could see their incomes move up sharply. If the restrictions are applied across the board to all firms, then no firm will be at a competitive disadvantage to other firms.
    Salaries are not set by the magical and omnipotent Market. They are set by human beings making fallible and imperfectly rational decisions. We have seen in recent years just how irrational – and sometimes corrupt – those decisions can be, So nobody, including the tea partiers, should have any market-worshiping illusions left.
    This country was extremely prosperous during the period following the war, when income was more evenly distributed, top marginal tax rates were much higher, and much more demanding labor protections worked together to create and advance the great American middle class. If the tea partiers are serious about rebuilding their country’s prosperity, they need to get behind efforts to re-institute the Rooseveltian wisdom that sustained middle class success for years.
    The “libertarianism” they have fallen for is a ruse – a scam by a few chosen Masters of the Universe that will give the latter the “liberty” to steer even more rapidly dwindling middle class wealth toward the tip top of the income scale.

    Reply

  16. Canadian says:

    The Democrats control the Senate? I didn’t know
    that. I don’t think that they know it either.

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    “Nadine, whatever political horses the wealthy are backing at any particular time, the point is that 80% of this country is owned by an extremely small minority of human beings, and those owners are not about to turn over the operation of our economy to the clueless and unhinged “tea party” (Dan Kervick)
    Is that what you think the tea partiers want? To make the rich give up their money and the economy? Boy, is that telling! The tea partiers are protesting for fiscal sanity and free markets. They are fine with the rich being rich. They’d like the opportunity to become rich themselves. They don’t want to live on government handouts because the economy is in a permanent slump due to job-killing government mismanagement. Here’s a tea party slogan: “I never saw a poor person give anybody a job”.
    It is true that there is strong overlap between the Republican base and the tea party. What’s worth noting is that there is a strong libertarian component, and that the movement had energized millions of people who were never politically active before.

    Reply

  18. Dan Kervick says:

    POA, I agree. I think the best overall account of the tea party is “people who gave George W. Bush high favorability ratings in the fall of 2008.” They are mainly just the core Republicans and Bush dead-enders, and they were loaded for bear with all the pre-canned arguments from the moment the last vote was counted in November, 2008.

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, whatever political horses the wealthy are backing at any particular time, the point is that 80% of this country is owned by an extremely small minority of human beings, and those owners are not about to turn over the operation of our economy to the clueless and unhinged “tea party”. But I’m happy to accept that this ownership group is bipartisan. It’s just as much Larry Summers, an extremely wealthy investor who I read recently has the highest salary of any current Harvard professor, as it is the Koch brothers. In some sense these hyper-affluent kingpins are beyond politics and beyond parties. Politics is for the rest of us suckers who have no way of influencing events other than through the political political process. But if you own the country, you don’t need politics to control it.

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I will predict that many in the Tea Party – at least those of them who are sincere in their beliefs and not just opportunists, will find themselves every bit as disappointed as progressives have found themselves under Obama”
    Of course, as I’ve pointed out on numerous occassions here. They are the victims of con-job, just like the “Obama Nation” was. Behind the “Tea Party” is the far right, who, realizing the discontent their “constituency” was experiencing, invented a movement that played upon and utilized this discontent. But make no mistake, it is RIGHT WING policies, the hardcore REPUBLICAN agenda, that will be pursued by a Republican Majority House and Senate, no matter how many so called “Tea Party” bumpkins manage to stupid talk a bunch of ignorant rednecks into voting them into office.
    I know personally the head of the “Tea Party” movement here in my community, and the guy is a political buffoon. There is not a single bit of “my country right or wrong” propaganda that he hasn’t bought into. And the local TP’s absolutely love the guy. Wanna lesson on how ignorant and uniformed people can be enmasse??? Go to a Tea Party rally and mingle.

    Reply

  21. nadine says:

    What’s amazing to me, Dan, is you could have lived through 2008, where big business gave much more money to Obama than to McCain, without budging an inch from your faith that corporations are all “Republican”.
    Big business wants to a) stay in business and not get put out of business through taxes and regulation, to b) make money, and c) keep down the competition. In an era of big government, rent-seeking is an excellent strategy to achieve a) and b). In addition, well-crafted regulation (read: far more onerous to small business than big business) helps keep down the competition. Big business and big government work well hand-in-hand.

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    drew, I will predict that many in the Tea Party – at least those of them who are sincere in their beliefs and not just opportunists, will find themselves every bit as disappointed as progressives have found themselves under Obama. There is no way that the owners of this country are going to turn our economy over to Tea Party economic quackery and austerity plans. The owners of all those big Republican corporations have customers, and they can’t afford to de-stimulate the economy for the sake of TP deficit hysteria. Nor can Republican incumbents afford to take a still-sluggish, fiscally starved economy back to the polls in 2012. They will attempt instead to engineer a straightforward Keynesian deficit-financed tax-side stimulus though tax cuts, and expand out of the deficit over the very long-term through growth, and with the helpful assistance of inflationary monetary policy from the Fed. The Republicans in power will prove no more deficit-hawkish than Democrats, but will stimulate through more tax cuts rather than spending expansion as Democrats prefer. Cutting taxes, especially on those who have the most, is always the true agenda of the Republican Party.
    I’s sorry to be so blunt, but most of the tea partiers are rubes; and they are being taken on one of the great rides of the century. However, I suspect most of the tea partiers will go along with the Republican Party line in the end, because despite their avowed self-image as “libertarians”, they are actually much more instinctively authoritarian than Democrats, and more obedient to partisan chains of command.

    Reply

  23. drew says:

    The Larger Issue.
    I think the larger issue is who will control the Republican Party after
    this election: the ensconced establishment, currently benefiting
    from, but promising little to, the Tea Party elements? Or the
    popular ‘rabble’ that chose to align with the Republicans this year,
    but whose skepticism of those like Rove may be higher than that of
    many Democrats.

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    Democrats control the Senate? Will pigs fly?
    After a non-existent “veto proof” majority, everybody knows that Republicans masqerading as Democrats controlled the last Senate, starting with Harry Reid, who never, ever challenged a Republican filibuster, no matter how outrageous the issue.

    Reply

  25. silverslipper says:

    “The GOP candidates with more exotic backgrounds and blemishes seem to be paying a greater price for it in the Senate than in the House. We will know for sure soon enough.”
    LOL Mr. Clemons! I think conservatives have learned a good lesson this election season – Let’s be willing to ignore some “blemishes” people may have to at least have senators who will help get the government out of our lives. After all wasn’t it President Obama’s team who kept saying certain people were too important for us to worry about some error they made (and that would mostly be not paying taxes!)?

    Reply

  26. nadine says:

    Well, the Democrats did manage to pass several massive pieces of legislation, which I believe they had originally intended to run on. But it didn’t work out that way.

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    The Democrats control the Senate? I didn’t know that. I don’t think that they know it either.

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    DO NOT disabuse me of my rainbows and puppy dogs! I’ll not have it!
    I cringe all the while my browser is redirecting from fivethirtyeight.com to the nytimes blog thing. But it’s good to have transition time…. To prepare me for one of Nate the Great’s great pieces on just how great the dems are, how overstated the joy-gap is, how puppy dog and blueberry pie the dems are…. SMILE!
    And remember, Meg Whitman is our 140 million of her own money!
    Self-funding will take a blow as people start to realize it’s not the money, it’s the coalition and the deal-making and horse-trading and back scratching and organizing and shoe leather that makes for a winning candidate. Money comes from support, it doesn’t cause support.
    Helps to avoid nannygates, too!

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    A Newsweek poll is citing registered voters? 12 days before the midterms? When midterm turnout is usually 40%? Strictly from hunger, questions. Go read your fave Nate Silver. You’ll see he is saying the same as Charlie Cook.

    Reply

  30. nadine says:

    Dakota, when you are heading off a cliff, “Stop!” is a good message.
    “An 8-seat pickup seems about right, but that is not written with a great deal of confidence; there are way too many races separated by very few points.”
    Charlie Cook sounds most uncertain. For practical results, a 9 seat pickup would probably be enough to change control of the Senate; the GOP would persuade Joe Lieberaman to caucus with the Republicans.

    Reply

  31. DakotabornKansan says:

    As Minnesota Senator Al Franken says of the Republicans,

    Reply

  32. angellight says:

    Voters everywhere beware — When the GOP state that they want less government, what they really mean is that they want NO government and more Corporate Rule! They want the people to carry the “tax burden” and continue to Pay all the taxes while the Corporations and wealthy pay very little or No taxes.
    The GOP and Tea Party(s) want no Social Security or Social Security to be tied to the stock market, — they want no or very little benefits going to our Verterans, they want no regulation of Wall Street, banks, insurance and credit card companies; they want nothing to get in the way of their corporate greed and profits. They no spending on America’s roads, streets, sewer system, infra-structure, rail roads, schools! No Investment in America. However, they don’t mind Spending on Wall Street stocks and bonds, so that they can build up a stock pile of profit for the wealthy, while America further decays into a third-world country. The Simple & Awful truth is that the Republicans want again, is for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer!
    What the Republicans Don’t Want You To Find Out!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9jLrrRg8rw

    Reply

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