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Democrats Will Lose the House: Charlie Cook

Veteran political prognosticator Charlie Cook argues that it’s not only likely that Republicans will take back the House of Representatives in November but that it’s hard to come up with a scenario under which they won’t.

I’ve spent the last couple of days talking to some of the brightest Democrats in the party that are not in the White House. And it’s very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don’t lose the House. It’s very hard. Are the seats there right this second? No. But we’re on a trajectory on the House turning over….

There are nine months, certainly things could happen, but the odds of unemployment being below 9 percent are minimal by the time of this election. We’re probably going to have a year of basically, more or less, 10 percent unemployment, which hasn’t happened since the Great Depression. I mean, in fact, in an even-numbered year there’s only been one month of double-digit unemployment in the post-War era. One month. And now we’re going to have probably about a year.

That’s the most forthright claim on the subject that I’ve yet seen by someone who is simultaneously a serious political observer and not a Republican operative.  I’m still somewhat skeptical because of the sheer enormity of picking up 77 seats — much less the 79 seat gap from 2008’s elections.  But I agree with Cook’s core assumption:  It’s a bad, bad year to be an incumbent and the Democrats are the incumbents.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the numbers in my last paragraph represent the gap, not the seats required for pickup.  True!  The Republicans only need a net gain of 41 seats, since every pickup is also a net loss for the Democrats.

Hat tip: Jim Geraghty.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I guess it’s possible but I remain skeptical. Here in Chicago, for example, I don’t see any groundswell of support for Republican candidates. In fact I can barely see Republican candidates—the number of people running unopposed is very large.

    I think that Republicans will gain seats. Retake the House?

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  2. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, it’s a LOT of seats to make up.

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  3. Triumph says:

    Veteran political prognosticator Charlie Cook argues that it’s not only likely that Republicans will take back the House of Representatives in November but that it’s hard to come up with a scenario under which they won’t.

    The Republicans already control Congress–just ask the weasel Democrats why they haven’t accomplished anything over the past year!

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  4. sam says:

    the Democrats are the incumbents

    Well, so are the Republicans, and the polls I’ve seen have their approval rate lower than whale shit, too. Nine months is a long time in politics these days. 77 seats sounds a bit of a stretch.

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  5. Jon says:

    The Republicans only need 41 seats to take back the House, not 77.

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  6. Steve Plunk says:

    This time it’s more than just the generic economy. Debt levels have become a serious issue that can’t be kicked down the road anymore. Fundamental question concerning the scope of government must be answered.

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  7. sam says:

    @Jon

    The Republicans only need 41 seats to take back the House, not 77.

    Ooops. Of course you’re right on the lower number needed. Still, I think that might a bit of a stretch, too.

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  8. Dave Schuler says:

    IIRC the last time there was a change of hands of that many seats or more in the House was in 1994. Is the Republican “brand” strong enough now to produce that sort of victory? I don’t see it.

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  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    A Republican holds the seat held by a Kennedy in the senate and people doubt? If the Democrats continue to try to socialize this country, they will find themselves out of power for a while.

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  10. Steven Donegal says:

    The Republicans should really watch what they wish for. If they actually get a majority, one would assume their constituents might actually want them to do something to address the problems. It will be interesting to watch the House Republicans explain how everything will be solved by upper middle class tax cuts and defending Medicare.

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  11. sam says:

    @Zels

    A Republican holds the seat held by a Kennedy in the senate and people doubt? If the Democrats continue to try to socialize this country, they will find themselves out of power for a while.

    About that Scott Brown feller:

    Reid Pulls Rabbit Out Of His Hat

    It looked for a time like even Harry Reid’s stripped-down jobs bill might stall with less than the required 60 votes, but at least two Republicans — Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine — have joined with the Democrats, which should be enough to advance the bill through this key procedural vote.

    Hmmm.

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  12. An Interested Party says:

    Debt levels have become a serious issue that can’t be kicked down the road anymore. Fundamental question concerning the scope of government must be answered.

    Yes, indeed…like which politician wants to commit political suicide by calling for real cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and defense spending as well as tax hikes…unless, of course, there is some magic pony somewhere that will take care of debt levels…

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  13. Steve Plunk says:

    AIP, You hit that nail on the head, who’s going to step up on the tough questions? I doubt either side will do it right but I would put my money on anyone but the Democratic party. Perhaps those libertarian influences creeping into the Republican party will help.

    Even if the Republicans don’t make substantial progress against the debt I’m sure they will slow spending as opposed to the Dems.

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  14. sam says:

    @Plunk

    “Even if the Republicans don’t make substantial progress against the debt I’m sure they will slow spending as opposed to the Dems.”

    And your evidence for this is? Quoting them doesn’t count. I’d like something from the six of the eight years of the previous administration that the Republicans were in control in the way evidence. What can you point to of substance in those six years?

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  15. An Interested Party says:

    Poor Plunk with his misplaced faith in the GOP…the only way they might possibly put a dent in spending is if they had a Democratic president that they would want to stick it to…they would never do it on their own…by the way, forget the politicians, I would extend what I wrote earlier to the conservatives here…how, exactly, would you try to balance the budget and bring down the debt? What would you suggest that any politician could do and still hope to keep his/her particular seat in Congress…

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  16. [...] Marshall was wrong. What he said was offensive, and even if he tries to explain it away, what he said was unnecessary and it won’t help advance the pro-life cause.  We do not need more reinforcement of the liberal stereotype that all pro-lifers are bible-thumping white men who think abortion is going to bring God’s wrath down upon America.  That kind of stereotype ignores the fact that the pro-life movement is far deeper and more ideologically diverse than the left is willing to admit.  We also don’t need any more controversy over ancillary issues like this – with the problems we face now, giving the Democrats an excuse to blather on about their misguided preconceptions of Republicans is an excuse they’ll use to cover up the fact that they’re looking at an historic loss in 2010. [...]

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  17. ATM says:

    The Republicans were not in control for 6 of 8 years of the last administration. The Democrats controlled the Senate for almost 4 of 8 years.

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  18. Dave says:

    Every poll taken by independent, Dem and Rep pollsters shows three things:

    1. People want spending reduced
    2. People want taxes cut
    3. There is no support for any substantive cuts to middle class programs

    They are all for cutting the 25% of the budget that they think is spent on foreign aid (actually it is slightly over 1%)

    People are as sophisticated as the 6 year old who wants a pony, but at least the 6 year old has an excuse.

    Take your gubmint hands off my Medicare!

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