Wednesday, September 01, 2010

at the buzzer

While I was watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals, where the Lakers came back from a double-digit deficit to beat the Celtics, a few light bulbs flashed. The first was this, “Why am I watching an NBA game?” The second was “How come there’s only one really good player on the court?” Lastly, the coup de grace: if you’re making a push to comeback in a free flow sport (basketball, tennis, hockey, etc.) you better get over the hump the first time or you’re finished; the expended energy leaves nothing for a second run. And for the lead defender, you simply need to keep the top of the mountain free from challenge. In Game 7 you could see both sides of the battle with the Lakers clearly having the bit between their teeth and the Celtics defending the summit; it was enthralling stuff to watch. The Celtics are considerably older than the Lakers and throughout the fourth quarter you just knew that if they could survive the rush, and not fall behind by even 3 or 4 points, then they’d win. As the Lakers got within a few points, tied it a few times, and the Celtics fought back, it looked like they’d win the title. But, alas, the Lakers put their nose ahead by 3 or 4 and you knew the game was over: The Lakers had cleared the summit. If they’d been unable to put that small distance between themselves and the C’s then everything would have still been in play. This is a VERY long back story, I know, but the point is that you get one shot: over or you’re out.

What I realized this morning, after watching some interviews from the big rally in D.C. over the weekend, was this: The Republican party is trying to summit and they’re gambling on getting over-the-top in one push. That idea is a perfectly considered strategy if their current compromises weren’t taken into account. The compromise is twofold: the crop of tea party candidates and the pandering of the ‘moderate’ candidates in order to survive a challenge. What’s happened so far is that the party is putting forward (and the voters are supporting it) tea party candidates for the general election and we don’t really know how they’ll fare against Democrats or Independents when the voting public pulls the lever. All of these ‘upsets’ so far have been Republicans losing to Republicans.

The mid-terms will give the Republicans/Tea Party a significant increase in seats in Congress. Since the Civil War there are only three instances of the mid-term elections not taking seats from the President’s party: FDR in 1934, Clinton in 1998, and Bush in 2002. Add in that the country is quite split right now and there may be a bigger swing than normal. But, that swing won’t be 40 seats in the house. Same with the Senate – only twice has a swing of double digits been seen and that’s what would have to happen this year. It’ll be close in the end but voters across the board will probably give us the Dems with 52 seats in the Senate, plus two independents, and something like 225 to keep control of the House. I don’t want to see those seats lost but it’s the nature of the beast. At the same time, let’s go back to Game 7 of the NBA Finals and add in another damning fact.

If the Republicans don’t gain control of either end of the capitol, or both, then they’ll spend even more years in the wilderness. This is the one push they get and if they only get close, but don’t get a nose in front, then not only will they have to battle an Obama reelection campaign in 2012 they’ll have to fight their own past. Imagine they find themselves short in numbers after this election and a good number of those seats are filled by incumbent tea party members come 2012. How do you address that election? The party is going to need to rid themselves of the extreme incumbents they elected in this desperate 2010 election season whilst trying to also battle another massive surge of Democratic campaigning. Getting even this year will not be enough to prevent a slaughter in 2012 and I don’t see them getting there in two months time. It is the long view, isn’t it?

52 and 225. Mark it.

Up next, music clouds.

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