So what happens this time?

  • Russell Brown,

    It's on. The mid-term elections in the world's weirdest democracy are here. Will it be a Democratic rout or did the polls tighten enough for the Republicans? Will the fake robo-calls at 3am tactic work for the Republicans? Is the Senate out of the question for the Dems? What are the Dems about anyway? Who should the American public be glad to see the back of? Will the machines work? Gather at our mid-terms forum on Public Address system to follow the progress, share links and pontificate like it was your real job. We thank you in advance for your wit, enterprise and courtesy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

120 Responses

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  • David Slack,

    I'll bite. From Salon, a charge sheet against the incumbent administration, lest we forget:

    http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/01/18/scandal/index.html?pn=1

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    May I ask what is it that these elections are for?

    I know it's not the president and I think it's something to do with the senate, but I'm not sure I know exactly what the senate is.

    Is it like if New Zealand MPs were elected in a seperate election from the one who decides who is government?

    Excuse my ignorance, but my knowledge of American civics is limited to Daily Show clips.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Rawnsley,

    We shouldn't pay too much attention to the tightening national polls - they're most likely to reflect a mobilising of the Republican base in strongly-Republican districts which will have little effect in the overall state of play.

    Cos this ain't one, national election, but 435 district-wide Congressional elections and 33 state-wide senatorial elections. In looking at the polls of those 468 individual races, things are looking very rosy for the Democrats in the House, and are looking as-close-as-can-be in the Senate.

    For the most comprehensive polling analysis, I recommend this site: http://electoral-vote.com/

    At present, it's predicting the Dems picking up 36 seats in the House, meaning a 239-196 majority. That's a similar swing to the 1994 Republican Revolution.

    In the Senate, they're predicting a five-state pick-up, leaving the Dems with a 50-49 lead (Virginia being tied). In effect, the Senate will come down to four states: Montana, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. To take the Senate, the Dems can only afford to lose one of these. Considering that Montana, Tennessee and Virginia are all traditionally red states, this is a huge call - but the polls are in the balance.

    One final spanner in the works: if the Dems take the Senate 51-49, Joe Lieberman could be the one-seat majority. Could he be lured across the aisle by Karl Rove?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year, elections are held for all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives and 33 or 34 of the 100 members of the United States Senate.

    Um... I'm going to stay out of it and instead watch some funny videos on YouTube.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    __"On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year, elections are held for all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives and 33 or 34 of the 100 members of the United States Senate.__"


    Um... I'm going to stay out of it and instead watch some funny videos on YouTube.

    You're right. No wonder hardly anyone votes.

    I hope that's not an example of the slow death of Wikipedia:

    "On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November ..."

    Are there some Tuesdays that come before Mondays in America?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    One final spanner in the works: if the Dems take the Senate 51-49, Joe Lieberman could be the one-seat majority. Could he be lured across the aisle by Karl Rove?

    OTOH, are there any moderate Republicans who might be tempted to pass the other way?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • ross marwick,

    re: Ted Haggard, evidently republicans have No gaydar, but read this, hilarious!
    http://www.bettybowers.com/nl_nov2006.html

    Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    In effect, the Senate will come down to four states: Montana, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia.

    Even aside from the strategic significance of the Tennessee contest, I'm fascinated to see the outcome of the Ford/Corker bout. Robyn, a quick search of YouTube will quickly bring you up to speed on that particularly ugly dog fight.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    Will it be a Democratic rout or did the polls tighten enough for the Republicans?

    I think that, ultimately, we will all be disappointed that the American public still cannot see the current paradigm for what it is. A slim win for the Dems, but slimmer than we might hope.

    (We had a 'US Election 2004' party at our flat. I still remember the horror as it became clear that Bush was going to be re-elected. Not only was it a real downer, it also instilled a certain amount of cynicism about American thought processes)

    Will the fake robo-calls at 3am tactic work for the Republicans?

    Yes, and so will the racist ads in Tennessee. See above.

    Is the Senate out of the question for the Dems?

    No, I'd give them a 40% chance.

    What are the Dems about anyway?

    Who knows. Despite years of Republican f-ups, a president who is pushing away even his most voracious supporters, uncountable scandals and the complete alienation of the Republican party from it's core values of individual and economic freedoms, the Democrats have completely failed to present an alternative. It's seems to be a choice between evil & stupid, or absent & apathetic.

    Who should the American public be glad to see the back of?

    Any incumbent.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    Why midterms? The US equivalent of members of Parliament come in two flavours: house (where each state gets a # of representatives according to its population), and senate (where each state gets only two) collectively known as "congress". The different houses of congress, separation of courts (law validators) and government (law makers), etc. are intended to provide checks and balances. The two types of representative ensures states can't be ignored but neither can popular opinion. Midterms ensure that the fickle populace can't get the shits with a party and throw everyone out at once, baby with bathwater (it also prevents a corrupt party from gaming the entire system at once).

    Because the top job isn't up for grabs, they typically get as much respect as an All-Asian rugby cup. However, they are talked up as being indicators for the next Presidential election. I'm of mixed opinions about this: there's still another two years before the Presidential election, which gives the incumbents a chance to change their story should they get trounced in the mid-terms.

    It's also the case that Presidents (unlike Prime Ministers) are term-limited to eight years (two terms), so in many cases (e.g., this one) the person running for President won't be the person who's President during the mid-terms. The danger of turning this election into a referendum on Bush is that the election we really care about won't be about Bush, it'll be about whatever perfect-teeth rich white people step up to the Presidential stage in the next two years.

    So when do the American people get to express their displeasure with Bush? They had it, in 2004, and they blew it. "Don't change horses mid-stream!" Bah! He's not a horse, just a horse's ass. The best we can hope for is that the more obvious bozos who kissed his ass will be voted off the island.

    Sorry for the cynicism. I was in the US for the 1996 (woo!), 2000 (boo!), 2004 (throwing good votes after bad) and I'm glad to get back to a country where the difficult political decisions are: (1) what to do with the surplus, (2) whether tax cuts are stupid or just mis-timed, and (3) who to spank for uncouth behaviour in Parliament instead of (1) is a deficit a bad thing, (2) which tax to cut next, and (3) how much sleaze can I hide to keep my cronies in power?

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Hogan,

    This is "down and dirty" politics at its best in the US right now. Not the usual personality fest that accompanies Presidential crownings, but hard nosed politicians desperately trying to keep their job and doing what the party wants of them. Can be a bit tricky when you are a Republican trying to keep your job, and the President and his policies are seen as a liability.

    Interestingly enough, on the NPR podcast today they interviewed past president Jimmy Carter who is in Nicaragua with his organisation that monitors elections worldwide. He said that the US wouldn't even qualify for monitoring because the variations in voting systems state to state and even county to county deem it too open to abuse. This from an ex- President. Nicaragua seems to be going OK...

    Waiheke Island • Since Nov 2006 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Rawnsley,

    Electoral Vote has now been updated with the latest (and final) polls: it gives the Dems the Senate 51-49 (Virginia has moved from a tie to the Dems by a single point), and the Congress 239-195 (with one tie). Will be very interesting to see how accurate these predictions turn out to be.

    Mr Slack: Tennessee looks like staying red: they're noe up by six points.

    Russell: Can't think of any Republican senator quite as self-absorbed and self-righteous as Mr Lieberman.

    Does anyone know if there's any live NZ TV coverage of the results? CNN, perhaps?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Things seem to be coming together for the Democrats. After two 50/50 presidential elections, it looks like they are finally going to clinch a majority in a branch of the US government. From what I've read in the US media, this seems to represent a confluence of at least three factors:

    Firstly, the Democrats' revised national strategy is pairing socially conservative candidates with socially conservative districts (fixing whatever has been the matter with Kansas).

    Secondly, the US establishment (as opposed to the critics of that establishment) has concluded that Bush's presidency has been a disaster, helping move political independents to the left.

    Thirdly, the religious right is slowly becoming disillusioned with the Republicans, although I suspect that the late pickup in Republican fortunes has a lot to do with the fears of these voters being preyed upon.

    I hope the Democrats can ultimately dismantle this last bastion of Republican structural electoral advantage. I'd wager that this means providing left wing religious alternatives, and not, as onegoodmove would have it, sending Richard Dawkins on a southern state book tour.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    It will be interesting to see which of the Houses goes - I can see at least one of either the Senate or the House go to the Dems, and if both go - well, Bush is lame duck extra-ordinaire.

    Not that it will matter - he's pretty much dead in the water as is - unless Rove and co start changing the constitution....

    Speaking of sleaze and how to track the "corruptness" of the system: I found this site wonderfully enlighting - and the use of google maps is superb.

    http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~markane/i590/contributors.html

    I don't know many zip codes - but you could always use this:

    http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/citytown.jsp

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    Sorry for the reply to my own post - but do make sure to click on the red and blue markers on the google maps!

    Quite revealing - if a little unsettling.

    I wonder if you could do the same sort of thing for NZ elections? We've just all been given postcodes... so it's a start.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    Looking at the campaign contributors page gave me an idea.

    A bipartisan party. Bring a date and a donation.

    Instead of donating to one political party, have a website matching you up with potential donators of the opposing party. Intead of giving the money to politicians get together and spend it on an almighty piss-up. The donations would have only cancelled each other out anyway.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Bronwen Joyner,

    I'm afraid I'm with Hamish, I think that it will be a lot closer then people think. I'm in Virginia, a state that has voted for a Republican president every presidential election since 1962 and even though they voted in a democratic governor last year, I'm not sure they will change their spots and kick out Republican George Allen. Also, there is a stupid gay marriage amendment on the ballot which won't help things.

    The only bit of encouragement I see is that my very conservative 78 year old mother in law who voted for George Bush basically because her Southern Baptist church told her to, is voting democrat this election, as she says they really need a change in the House and Senate (but she is still voting for the gay marriage ban - go figure).
    I definitely think the democrats will pick up a number of seats, I'm just not sure they're formidable enough to beat the impressive Republican machine.

    Norfolk, Virginia • Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I really don't see the merit in rewarding the Democrats. They've been the most dismal opposition party imaginable - the Republican party has just had the worst six months possible, yet there the Dems are, unlikely to retake the Senate and blindsided by a Republican dirty tricks campaign that they didn't anticipate even though the GOP has been using underhand tactics in every election for the last decade.

    I can't see how voting these feeble clowns into office is going to have the slightest effect on the Bush presidency or the way he conducts 'The War on Terror'. The only change I anticipate is that the talking heads in the US media will instantly start complaining about the Democrats failure to improve the war or balance the budget.

    Let the Democrats die a natural and well deserved death while the Republicans run the country into the ground. Maybe a decent political system will rise from the ashes. It's better than acting as co-enablers to a cabal of religious idiots.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Are there some Tuesdays that come before Mondays in America?

    Only thing I can think of is that there are some first tuesdays in a month which come before the first monday (if for instance the 1st is a Tuesday). Can't imagine why anyone would set such an odd rule though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    While we wait for the numbers, a little piece of campaign trail entertainment via Digg and Daily Kos:

    George Bush, trying to save a Republican candidate in a Nebraska district: "Now, it seems to me if you're sending someone from this country to Washington, you better have someone who understands what it means to be a farmer and rancher." The Dem candidate, Scott Kleeb, is a rancher with a PHD who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the history of cattle ranching. And once placed fifth in a Nebraska rodeo for bull riding.

    George's guy is a real estate agent.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    The republicans deserve to be kicked all the way back to Texas, but like most others here, I'm sceptical it will be anything like the rout we hope for.
    What do the Dems stand for? This guy has a good take on the debate (and lack of it) in Democratic circles.
    Why do the Republicans so deserve to loose? This cover story in Rolling Stone sums it up:
    It's incompetence- but it's mostly about corruption.... power corrupts in curious ways- and there seems no end to the cynicism- evidenced in dirty campaign tricks and 527 lies- of the current GOP leadership.
    The GOP line- taken on by Brash here- has been for decades the ACT (and others- rememember the bumper stickers?) line that lower taxes and less government is always best. It's not surprising they can't govern well- their message is that they don't believe in it! But power, perks and pork? They'll do just about anything to hang onto power....
    The hope for a Democratic Congress is that they'll not just scale back, but stop the rot of democarcy in the US by changing the rules in Congress and seriously investigating the last 6 years. And maybe they'll even overhaul the voting chaos: the deeply ironic fact that the world's most wealthy and powerful democracry simply can't even run fair and decent elections.....

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    As encouraging as I think the polls are in favour of the Democrats, I think the great unknown in modern American elections is still voter apathy.

    Dirty tricks tend to encourage people to stay at home, not vote the other way, so I don't know how accurate the polls can be considered to be.

    Can't think of any Republican senator quite as self-absorbed and self-righteous as Mr Lieberman.

    Hi, meet Rick Santorum!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Santorum

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    I've frankly been shocked by the tactics in these elections - racist ads, fake late night robocalls, calls threatening arrest and/or deportation if you vote... guess which side 95% of these are coming from? If any country this side of Zimbabwe needs election monitoring, its the US!

    As for the first monday thing, I read an explanation here:

    http://www.factmonster.com/spot/electionday1.html

    As for my 2 cents on a prediction, Dems to get to 49 in the senate, somewhere in the 220s in the House.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    Hi Y'all

    tis 4pm ET now.... so first results coming through around 1pm NZT.

    on the first tuesday after the first monday thing... that means that if Monday is the 31st of October then the election is on November 8. I think. And then for once it will not be on Melbourne Cup Day.

    and on the question of americans not voting. Depending on how you read things Bush has been great for democracy. Record turnouts in 2000 and 2004 elections. In 2004 - if you beleive the numbers (I am a bit skeptical) - turnout was close to 60% may have even been over. 122 million votes.

    usually mid-term elections have a low turnout coz usually they don't matter much. This time coz the GOP holds the House the Senate and the WH - and have just abolished Habeas Corpus and Posse Comitas - they are very very very important. Turnout today is expected to be high.

    Robyn, something very cool on youtube is HBO doco "Hacking Democracy" linked on Scoop FP....

    al
    al

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

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