Aug. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

If Voters Choose Divided Power, What Then?

Among leading race-by-race analysts, RealClearPolitics.com is putting Republicans ahead in 207 House races, Democrats in 191 and listing 37 as tossups — of which the GOP needs to take only 11 to take control.

CQ Politics has it the opposite — 213 Democrats leading, 189 Republicans, 33 tossups. Stuart Rothenberg lists 28 Democratic seats tilting or leaning Republican — 11 short of control — and 13 as tossups.

In the Senate, Republicans do have to virtually run the table to pick up 10 seats, but it’s doable.

GOP candidates have substantial leads in five states — North Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin —and are within range of winning in Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, West Virginia, California and, amazingly, Connecticut.

Republicans had Delaware for the asking as well, but they appear to have thrown it away by nominating tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, who’s trailing badly.

The rules of the Senate are such that cohesive minorities are powerful if they have 41 votes. With 48 or 49 — and able to attract a conservative Democrat or two — Republicans can run (or stop) the show.

So, it looks as though Mae West and proponents of divided government may well get their wish in November.

The question is: What then? Are President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans going to do as Clinton and Republicans did in the 1990s — fight like hell, but get stuff done — or just battle to a standstill and make who’s to blame the central issue of the 2012 elections?

There’s every danger that Obama is incapable of reaching out to Republicans and that Republicans under the influence of tea partiers and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will refuse to reach back if he does.

If the result is that none of America’s problems get addressed — jobs, the debt, energy, education, immigration — what organization of government is there left to try? You can be sure, outraged voters will want something new.

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