The Downhill Run

Friday, 29 October 2010 12:16 By William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed | name.

The Downhill Run
(Photo: Leo Reynolds; Edited: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

The 2010 midterm elections go down on Tuesday, for good or ill. The pollsters, news people and bloggers have been going full bore for months covering the thing. Even the weather people have gotten into the act; word has it most of the country is going to get rained on come election day. Except for get-out-the-vote efforts, a final blizzard of campaign ads and perhaps one last scandal before the polls open, we are into the downhill run of this thing, and all that's left is the voting and the counting.

And the beatings, of course. Par for the course these days. It's hard to know what's more disturbing: the fact that Tea Party activists are beating up women in public, or the fact that acts like this are not terribly surprising anymore.

Snapshot of the pivotal races in the Senate field with days to go: Republican Sharron Angle leads Democrat Harry Reid 49.3% to 46.9% in Nevada. In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey leads Democrat Joe Sestak 45.9% to 43.4%. In Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul leads Democrat Jack Conway 48.9% to 42.7%. In West Virginia, Democrat Joe Manchin leads Republican John Raese 47.3% to 46.4%. In Washington, Democrat Patty Murray leads Republican Dino Rossi 49.3% to 45.8%. In Colorado, Republican Ken Buck leads Democrat Michael Bennet 47.9% to 45.4%. In California, Democrat Barbara Boxer leads Republican Carly Fiorina 47.4% to 43.4%. In Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson leads Democrat Russ Feingold by a commanding margin of 52.3% to 44.9%.

As it stands, there are 57 Democrats, 41 Republicans and two Independents in the Senate. The GOP will have to run the table on Tuesday in order to take back majority control, and with farcical candidates like Delaware's Christine O'Donnell in the mix, this outcome appears to be highly unlikely. A number of prominent pollsters, however, see the possibility of a 50-50 split in the Senate after Tuesday; some have put the odds of such an outcome at one in three.

The House races are a much different matter. All 435 House members are running, and by all available reports, Tuesday looks to be a bad day for the Democratic majority. RealClearPolitics has predicted the GOP will take 222 seats, the Democrats will take 180, leaving 33 as toss-ups. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight predicts the GOP will take 226 seats, the Democrats will win 208, and the odds of the GOP taking majority control stands at 72%. The Cook Political report predicts the Democrats could lose up to 60 seats, and Charlie Cook told the National Journal that, "It's very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House."

Leave your shock at the door should Congress flip to the GOP after Tuesday. We've seen far too many deranged elections and demented voter intentions over the last ten years. Tuesday will be the sixth one, in fact. The 2000 presidential election stabbed the nation under the fifth rib and ushered in the beginning of the hell we have since endured. The 2002 midterms cemented the Bushian GOP's stranglehold on power, and was exemplified by the defeat of war hero Max Cleland in Georgia, who was compared to Osama bin Laden by his victorious opponent, Saxby Chambliss.

2004 saw the incomprehensible re-election of George W. Bush, with a little help from some highly dubious results in Ohio and New Mexico. The wave started to break in time for the 2006 midterms - after a massive and preventable terrorist attack, the virtual annihilation of a major American city, two failed wars and the beginnings of what became our current economic calamity - and by 2008, the tables had been turned. The GOP was out of power in Congress and defeated in the presidential election.

That was then, and yeah, this is now.

It is impossible to quantify how ludicrous the run-up to these midterm elections has been. We've had a witchcraft denial, condemnation of masturbation, dismissal of the most basic tenets of the Constitution, beatings, and of course, the elevation of a Tea Party "movement" that was nothing less than the "mainstream" media slapping a layer of new paint on the same old right-wing, racist, reactionary GOP base. We've seen the Citizens United decision create an explosion of corporate spending designed to swing these elections, and that money has worked wonders. The story of this election cycle has been a cartoon drawn by demented children, colored in by economic crisis and bordered by any number of glaring Democratic Party failures and shortcomings.

We will know the truth of it on Wednesday. It is entirely possible the Democrats will retain control of Congress - the GOP has enjoyed a lead for weeks now in the so-called generic ballot, but many of the specific races are much tighter than those numbers would suggest - and there are a number of Governor's races that are also anyone's guess. Turnout will be key, the weather will be a factor, and don't be surprised if the "Tea Party" sends thugs into minority districts to intimidate voters...right before turning around and accusing Democrats of voter fraud.

It's been that kind of election season. Don't forget to vote.

Last modified on Saturday, 30 October 2010 10:05