Insights: Politics—The Election's Even Split
The 2001 Congress will likely be divided down the middle
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Costner, Nov/Dec 00
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The House is much easier to predict. Close to 40 seats are vacant in the 2000 election, the vast bulk of them now held by Republicans. Just the normal process of attrition makes it very likely that the Democrats will win control of the House in November. Incumbents are notoriously hard to beat in House elections. It's easier to defeat a senator than a congressman. House members can so saturate their small districts with personal attention, mail, phone calls, and constituent services that it is hard for any challenger to gain traction. Traditionally, any time the House has changed hands, it has been due to retirements among incumbents. In 1992 and 1994, for example, a horde of Democratic congressmen left office, embarrassed by bounced checks drawn on the House bank and lured by the prospect of holding on to their campaign funds as personal income if they left office.
This time, it is the Republicans' turn to retire. Frustrated by their failure to turn around the national agenda in the aftermath of their 1994 victory, dozens of GOP congressmen have left their seats to return to civilian life. The resulting prospect is very bright for the Democrats.
Should Bush maintain a lead in the presidential race, it will, oddly, make a Democratic victory in the House more likely. Surveys indicate that a plurality of voters want a Democratic Congress if there is to be a GOP president (and the other way around as well). Fearful of GOP positions on abortion and gun control, most voters want a Democratic check and balance on a Republican president. Obviously, a GOP landslide victory for Bush would enhance Republican chances in the House. But a narrow Bush win--the most likely scenario at this time--may reinforce voter bias toward a Democratic House.
The likely outcome--a split decision. Right down the middle.
Dick Morris is a former advisor to President Clinton and Mexico's newly elected president Vicente Fox. He is founder of Vote.com, a Web site on which people may express their views on important issues.
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