Cliopatria: A Group Blog
Aaron Bady (∞); Chris Bray (∞); Brett Holman (∞); Jonathan Jarrett (∞); Robert KC Johnson (∞); Rachel Leow (∞); Ralph E. Luker (∞); Scott McLemee (∞); Claire B. Potter (∞); Jonathan T. Reynolds (∞)
Counting Jim Jeffords as a Democrat, the Dems start the race behind 49-51. And, making the (not unreasonable) assumption that if Kerry is elected, Massachusetts voters will replace him with a Democrat, the Dems need to pick up one net seat to take the majority if Kerry is elected and two seats if Bush is re-elected. Quite beyond the issue of coattails, then, a Democratic majority probably depends on a Kerry victory.
Three seats seem all but certain to change hands: Illinois, where everyone's favorite GOP candidate, Alan Keyes, trails by 51 points in the latest poll (68-17); Georgia, where the Dems have had no chance for months; and South Carolina, where the Dems probably lost their only chance at victory when former GOP governor David Beasley was defeated in the Republican runoff. So, not counting any of the close races, Republicans start the contest with a one-seat gain.
Five seats seem to have shifted in the direction of the party that currently occupies them over the past several weeks--Washington, North Carolina, and South Dakota for the Democrats; Missouri and Pennsylvania for the Republicans. That leaves five more open seats (Florida, LA, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Alaska) that will decide, with the Dems needing to win all five to reclaim the Senate if Bush wins, and four of the five if Kerry prevails.
The Florida race has been slow to develop, but it's been a decade since a Republican has won a Senate race there, and the Democrats certainly nominated a solid candidate in Betty Castor. In Oklahoma and Alaska, the Dems nominated their strongest conceivable candidate in both races (Brad Carson and Tony Knowles) and the Republicans nominated two deeply flawed candidates in Tom Coburn and Lisa Murkowski. Nonetheless, although it's certainly possible, it's hard to imagine the Dems winning both of these states, especially since Bush seems likely to carry both by 25 points or more: no Democrat has won a statewide federal race of any kind in Alaska since 1974, and David Boren is the only Democrat to win an Oklahoma Senate race since 1966.
If Oklahoma and Alaska split, that leaves Louisiana and Colorado to decide the outcome. The only Democrat to win a Senate race in Colorado in the last 18 years was Ben Nighthorse Campbell, but he quickly defected to the GOP, and Democratic nominee Ken Salazar recently lost his lead to GOP candidate Pete Coors. In Louisiana, Dems have increasingly become reliant on the state's peculiar election system, in which candidates from all parties appear on the ballot with a runoff the first Saturday in December if no candidate receives a majority. They've erased large Republican leads in the open primary in the 1996 and 2002 Senate races and the 2001 gubernatorial contest. At some point, though, it would seem as if their luck will run out. If I had to guess at this stage, I would say that Salazar will win Colorado and GOP nominee David Vitter will capture Louisiana, which would produce a 50-50 Senate.
There is, however, one other historical trend worth considering. In each of the last four elections, there has been one notable Senate upset: 1996 in Nebraska, with Chuck Hagel over Ben Nelson; 1998 in North Carolina, with John Edwards over Lauch Faircloth; 2000 in Washington, with Maria Cantwell over Slade Gorton (courtesy of the final absentee ballots from Seattle, counted days after the election); and 2002, with Saxby Chambliss over Max Cleland. Alarmingly for the Dems, the only possible candidates for an upset at this stage seem to be Democrats--Tom Daschle in South Dakota, Patty Murray in Washington, and, perhaps most likely, Wisconsin's Russ Feingold, who has demonstrated a tendency to fade late in both 1992 and 1998. This is one historical pattern that Democrats will be hoping to avoid this election day.
I have been remiss in not calling your attention to efforts in Congress to legalize the outsourcing of torture. It seems to me that, if it has finally come to that, the United States ought to own up publicly to the necessity of committing torture to accomplish its objectives and to do it ourselves under our own supervision. Obviously, I hope it has not come to that and that we will not engage in it. Distancing ourselves from it by outsourcing, however, is contemptible. Please do contact your member of Congress and urge her or him to oppose this legislation and contact your local newspaper because this is moving under its radar.
It's not a debate, in any meaningful sense of the word, unless they break the rules. It's a joint press conference, and the only thing that makes it interesting is that they will be in the same room and might react to each other (within prescribed limits). But it's great political theater, and there are a lot of people who really do seem to care about how the candidates perform (and that is the right word) under these conditions, conditions which are relevant only to past and future debate-like appearances.
That said, I have a few predictions about how the Thursday debate, on Foreign Policy, will go.
- Japan will be mentioned, at most, twice: once as a member of the coalition of the willing (bribed, not bullied), and once in regard to the Six-Party North Korean nuclear crisis negotiations.
- China, the largest country in the world, will be mentioned only in connection with North Korea. They won't talk about (mostly because they won't be asked about) their rapid industrial growth or consumer growth (and rapidly rising demand for oil), our import-export imbalance, their strategic position, Taiwan (ok, there's about a 1/5 chance Taiwan could come up), internal ethnic tensions, rising nationalism, or the recent shift in power from (rather US-friendly) Jiang Zemin to (Euro-friendly) Hu Jintao. Our China and Taiwan policies have had exactly one noteworthy shift since Nixon-Kissinger -- dropping human rights issues because they weren't listening anyway -- and it isn't likely to change anytime soon unless China does something dramatic.
- India, the second largest country in the world, might be mentioned in connection with its tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir and nuclear weapons, but otherwise we'll have to wait until they talk about the economy, when outsourcing will come up.
- South Korea will get the usual mention if North Korea comes up, as well as a mention if military force redistribution is raised.
- North Korea will almost certainly be discussed, which will make Kim Jong Il very happy, particularly as neither of them seem inclined to say (or do) anything concrete. I doubt Kerry will contrast North Korea and Iraq policy but it would be fun to see how the spin on that played out if he did.
- Vietnam..... boy, I hope not.
- South and East Asia will not get any other substantive mentions.
- A few other Asia-related topics they won't talk about:
- HIV/AIDS (except perhaps with regard to promises to Africa that were not kept), either Thai successes or the coming explosion in China and India
- SARS and the threat of new communicable diseases
- immigration policy (that'll be a domestic issue, if at all, and mostly Mexico)
Post-Event Update: Turns out, I was being overly optimistic.
To begin with, Kotsko's got some nerve, calling his site"The Weblog," as if his generic claim crowds out all others' to having a blog. Then, he provokes all of us by insisting that"there is nothing outside the blog" (scroll down), thereby staking his claim of title to the knowable and sentient universe. He tries to hide the imperial pretense of it all with late and over-ripe Marxist/Negrian rhetoric about hegemony, just to make sure that we know he's on the side of the oppressed. But the kicker, on top of all that, is when his bourgeois self starts hawking merchandise, all in the name of the revolution, you understand. So, I'm just telling him that he's got some mercantile competition from the original salesman of the faith at St. Clinton.com. He feels your pain when he drives you out of bidness.
Then, there's my friend, Scott McLemee. He's a man of the word, don'cha know, so there's lots of interesting text over on his site. But, then he notices that it is visually challenged, so he heists an illustration from Kotsko. I want to know if McLemee hit Kotsko's Paypal tab for that illustration! And, having gussied up his place with Kotsko's illustration, McLemee's got the nerve to send me some e-mail about how much prettier his place is than Cliopatria's. Well, take this, Adam Kotsko, and take that, Scott McLemee:
This is Cliopatria. S/he's not for sale, but s/he's multi-talented and rents out h/is/er services at $20 an hour or whatever the fed's going rate is these days. And, I don't want to hear one word of reproof about my heisting this gorgeous picture of h/im/er from Matt Drudge.