The House May Fall-But We’ve Got Trouble in Blue States

A recent study by the Wall St. Journal and Zogby gives Democrats good news and bad news. The good news is that Democrats are in a good position to hold the open US Senate Seats (currently held by retiring Dems) in Maryland and Minnesota. If Senate elections were held today Democrats would unseat GOP incumbents in Ohio and Pennsylvania (DeWine and Santorum) but would lose the seat formerly held by Corzine in New Jersey.

The Senate would only be 54-46 GOP after the 2006 election as things stand now.

There is evidence that the days of a GOP controlled House are numbered. Teixiera writes: “However, asked which party’s candidates they preferred for U.S. Senate races, respondents in a poll of LV’s by Democracy Corps conducted 1/4-8, favored Dems by a 14 point margin.

Zogby didn’t address races in the House of Reps. But the DCorps poll suggests that Dems could win the 15 seats needed to gain a majority in the House. Asked which party they would vote for in their congressional district, respondents favored Democrats by a margin of 50-40 percent. Other polls taken in January by Harris, Hotline, Gallup and AP show leads for Dems of 9, 7, 7 and 13 percent respectively.”

More than anything else I want the House back. But we can’t go losing seats in blue states. Zogby also has some good news on the gubernatorial homefront: “Democrats are leading in the races for governor in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Iowa, though Iowa and Wisconsin are very tight contests.”

“In statehouse races, Democrats are also leading due to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California struggles and the pending retirement of Republican George Pataki, who steps down after 12 years in New York. Democrats are also leading in gubernatorial races in Maryland and Massachusetts, where Republicans now hold the governors’ mansions.”

A word of caution should be made about Maryland. Yes we Marylanders are a blue state bunch (we gave Kerry 57% of our votes). Recently a Baltimore Circuit Court declared Maryland’s ban on gay marriage unconstiutional. While visitors to this blog will no doubt agree with the MD. Circuit Court’s ruling, a report in today’s Washington Post demonstrates that there is the slight possibility that this could be used to seperate some black voters from the Democratic Party.

“Maryland’s African American lawmakers are deeply divided in the emerging debate over same-sex marriage, which forces them to balance their communities’ bedrock religious convictions against a traditional commitment to civil rights.

In the short time since a Baltimore circuit court declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, black Democrats in the General Assembly have reached consensus only on one thing: They don’t want the matter put to a vote.

“We’ve been discussing it ever since the court issued its opinion,” said Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s). “There is a split. And no easy way to resolve it.” It should be pointed out that 27.7% of Marylanders are black-a higher percent of a state’s population that any other state in the Union outside the Deep South. 40% of Marylanders overall are nonwhite.

No one in the progressive community needs to be lectured about how the Republicans were able to use gay marriage as a means of distracting voters in the 2004 Election. At the same time many economic progressives don’t deny that civil rights are meant for all, regardless of sexual orientation. But given Dems tenuous position in New Jersey, and that Dems need to do a better job of not only winning state elections in battleground states but also in blue states, the questions must be raised: Should Dems forget these social issues for just this year? How can Dems increase their prospects in Senate races? Finally, is it too late to recruit Springsteen to run for Senate in New Jersey? The musician in me (I minored in music-no pun intended) might be upset, but the Democrat in me would not be.

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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11 Responses to The House May Fall-But We’ve Got Trouble in Blue States

  1. BlueWashington says:

    Hi Nick,

    Just read your post – good stuff.

    I’ll give you my take – the DEMs need to put together a national campaign on the “Culture of Corruption”/good government (obeying the law), Fair Trade and to a lesser extent – the war in Iraq. From that, I would think local candidates could build their own campaigns around their particular issues.

    As far as the Senate goes, R.I., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Tennesse and Montana would be places where the party would want to concentrate resources and use the themes from above that I mentioned.

    Again, using the the same themes, I think the House can be taken. But, social issues – I think it would be a losing proposition (abortion and gay rights come to mind). Don’t get me wrong – these topics are important – but if you don’t control the agenda – there’s no reason to bring them up. What do you think?

  2. Ron Chusid says:

    “Don’t get me wrong – these topics are important – but if you don’t control the agenda – there’s no reason to bring them up. What do you think?”

    I think they are often losing issues because Democrats act afraid to bring them up, allowing Republcans to frame them on their terms.

    Democrats need to openly defend individual liberty and attack the Republicans for supporting a government which is more intrusive in individual’s lives. Rather than being the party which supports abortion and gay rights, Democrats need to be the party which supports individual liberty–with right to choose with regards to abortion and sexual orielntation being a result of this.

    People’s attitudes are rather mixed on these issues and it depends upon how the issue is put to them. Put it as yes or no on gay marriage, and a majority will vote no. However polls in states with gay marriage prohibitions on the ballot showed that voting no on gay marriage did not necessarily mean outright hosility towards gays. Many of the people who voted no on gay marriage were willing to support civil unions and have no problem with a live and let live attitude towards gays. (Sure there is a distinct minority who considers it a sin, but those votes never have been in play).

    On abortion the case is even easier for Democrats as a majority support the right to choose.

  3. Ron, right on target! Great way to frame the real issues and what the party stands for!

    Please send that to the Dems in Congress and the DNC in an attempt to try to teach them how to do it!

  4. Nick,

    Not good to see at all about Robert Menendez vs Tom Kean Jr. Not overly surprising at this point I guess, since most people in NJ don’t know much of anything about Menendez. Though I still think Rush Holt(my rep) would have been the best choice, for a number of reasons. Including no ability at all for the GOP to tie him o the NJ Dem power bosses AKA the taint of corruption. That’s the main tactic NJ GOP have and will use in NJ against any Dem…

    Most people know even less about Tom Kean Jr. Except most know and like his father, who also had the added bonus of co-chairing the recent 9/11 commission…

    One thing I heard a several months back was that Kean Jr may be more like a Bush Jr. Just like Bush Jr pretended to be a moderate in the 2000 election and the masses thought he’d be like his Dad. It was known by anyone who cared to check that he was much more conservative/right-wing then his father but you know the public and media… I heard Kean Jr is also more conservative than is father as well. Which will help him with the GOP base and like Shrub in 2000, I’m sure it will be played down with the public the same way, so they’ll think they are getting his father. Who I’m sure will be campaigning for him like crazy as well 🙁

    Actually, people should really get a clue and understand that you can’t even really afford to just vote for the person in ’06. Which party will control in the House and Senate is the only thing of real importance at this stage. At this point, with Bush still enthroned and a totally partisan, out of control GOP in Congress, who controls either house of congress is MUCH more important than who an individual politician is. Sad to say but that is all that is really important for the future of our country at this stage.

    I’m also really going to be ticked off it they stay close for another reason. I didn’t want to have to spend all my time helping a NJ Dem hold our Senate seat! I wanted to be able to help my neighbors in PA get rid of Senator “Man on Dog Sex” and get Patrick Murphey a seat in the house from Bucks, PA!

  5. Oops should have read “Murphy”.

    Patrick is one of the Iraqi War Vet “Fighting Dems”.

    Met him when he spoke at a JK/KE fundraiser I was helping put on in PA, about 2 weeks after he returned from Iraq. Spoke to him afterward too and was impressed with him. Seemed like a great young man.

  6. Nick says:

    Blue Washington said

    “But, social issues – I think it would be a losing proposition (abortion and gay rights come to mind). Don’t get me wrong – these topics are important – but if you don’t control the agenda – there’s no reason to bring them up. What do you think?”

    I agree. While Ron has a point about framing, the fact of the matter is that these issues don’t motivate enough Democrat base voters but they do fire up GOP base voters. No reason Dems should do the RNC’s job (firing up GOP base voters) for them.
    As for swing voters, too many swing voters when they think (correctly or not) that they are confronted with a choice of erring on the side of being “too liberal” on a cultural issue or being too conservative voters in the middle will usually err on the side of being too conservative.
    What ultimately sparks votes for Demcrats from both base and swing voters is the feeling that Dems will be tough, but not trigger happy on foreign affairs and more economic issues in the domestic sphere (think about social economic policies that help the “little guy” and the “people not the powerful”).
    If a Dem in a given state thinks they can promote civil unions for gay couples go right ahead, but beware promoting “gay marriage”- its just too loaded a phrase today, better to help Americans along as they become more tolerant of gays. Its one thing to be a few steps ahead of the general public on cultural issues, being a few miles ahead of them can get you in to trouble.
    Once dems are back in power and have accomplished some of their economic objectives then try to broach some cultural issues once you’ve earned the American public’s trust.

  7. Nick says:

    Dave from Princeton

    Are you confident the polls showing Kean ahead just a name recognition thing? A lot of folks in NJ still don’t really KNOW Menendez, but they know and like Kean (or at least his Daddy), so they say they’ll vote for Kean. Maybe this is another false alarm like 2004.
    I don’t know about in NJ, but down here in DC we kept hearing over and over and over about how NJ was shifting from being a blue to a battleground state (mainly because of 9/11). The fact that Kerry won NJ by 53%-46% without visiting the state was-interestingly- not as well reported here. In fact Kerry’s 53.0% of the vote was almost the same as Clinton’s 53.7% in 1996 and only 3% less than Gore in 2000.
    BTW, totally agree with your point about control of Congress being more important than any one personality.

  8. Nick Says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    I think it’s going to be a very tough fight. I wasn’t happy when I heard Kean Jr was running. Esp, with all the media attention his Dad had the last couple years with the 9/11 commission…

    Hopefully, Gov Corzine will make some early moves to impress folks here and get cooperation from the state Dems. The better Jon is doing hopefully some of that will transfer to the man he picked to fill his Senate seat.

    Though talking about name recognition. The name “Menendez” by itself sure doesn’t give the warm and fuzzies to many folks in NJ. The local Menendez brothers, Lyle and Erik, were very famous a few years back for murdering their wealthy parents. Then going on a spending spree with their inheritance, until they were charged and convicted not long after for the shotgun murders. 🙁

    As far as the state turning into a battle ground state due to 9/11. I still never understood that at all. WTF is wrong with people??? 9/11 happened while Bush was president because his admin is incompetent and ignored every warning and didn’t give a crap about terrorism until after 9/11 when they decided to use it for politics. Bush is clueless and MIA for 3 days, then he talks tough about getting Osama, immediately starts using it for political purposes, screws up catching/killing Osama and doing what was needed in Afghanistan, then says Osama doesn’t matter, except to terrorize stupid American’s with him and use proven fake terror alerts throughout the 2004 election. And Bush and the GOP are the ones that can protect America??? He let our neighbor state get attacked killing many of our residents too and then he and the GOP short changes NYC and other blue state targets on Homeland Security $, because they are giving it instead as pork to the welfare Red states that terrorists wouldn’t bother to attack if you paid them! WTF is wrong with people in this country!!!!

    Oops, sorry very touchy subject with me…

  9. BlueWashington says:


    “I think they are often losing issues because Democrats act afraid to bring them up, allowing Republcans to frame them on their terms.”

    I gotta tell you – and perhaps you’ve heard – our state legislature just past a civil right bill that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination. Mailings went out to GOP leaning districts (those districts with DEM representitives) attacking those politians on their positions on the bill inparticular and the Democratic Party in general.
    The bill is a good thing, but the GOP will use it as a baseball bat against the Democrats. The party now needs to focus on the economy, energy, health care and education – things voters in general will understand.

  10. Ron Chusid says:

    Blue Washington,

    Sure Republicans will use it to attack Democrats. They will succeed if Democrats don’t defend their positions.

    Health care is another winning issue for Democrats, but for the most part Democrats will not win if they think they can campaign purely on economic issues.

    Economic issues worked for Clinton but times have changed. A majority believe that Democrats do better than Republicans on the economy but vote Republican. In a generally affluent society economic issues are not driving the vote as it did in the past. As Bill Clinton realized, the era of big government is over. Other than in specific areas where a fix is needed, like health care, voters are not interested in more government meddling in the economy.

    The major issues influenceing voters are national security/terrorism and the so-called moral issues. Many Democrats have virtually given these issues to Republicans believing they can win on economic issues.

    In order to win Democrats must win the fight on national security and moral issues, and not avoid these issues by beliving they can win on the economy. Of course by moral issues I mean fighting for individual liberty and reframing moral issues in this context.

  11. BlueWashington says:


    The voters are interested in the ecomomy. People want economic security and don’t want to be sold down river on behalf of corporate profits; this is more comonly known as Free Trade.
    In my opinion, when of Bill Clinton’s biggest sins was opening up our country to 3rd world economies – China & India. When Clinton did that, he became no better then the GOP.
    Exposing the economy to these other countries has put a lot of hard working people out on the street; and these are people who made good money and decent benefits. Among those benefits were health care pensions. These benefits are becoming history and people are becoming nervous.

    Take a look at the latest NBC News/Wallstreet Journal Poll that came out today. Interesting stuff.

    Moral Issues as individual freedoms I think will work; weave in the war in Iraq and government corruption, next thing you know ’06 looks pretty good.