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Morning Jay: House Polls, Senate Battles, Full Dinner Pail, NV, CT, and More!

6:30 AM, Oct 7, 2010 • By JAY COST
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I totally agree with Barone’s assessment of the Gallup poll numbers.  In fact, I think the first decade of the 21st century has a lot in common with the last decade of the 19th.  The 1890s saw a severe economic recession come in 1893, which drove the 100-seat swing in the 1894 midterm.  But even prior to the Panic of 1893, the farmers in the Midwest and South were suffering terribly.  Overexpansion and a highly competitive global market pushed the prices of wheat, corn, and cotton down to unsustainable levels, and in the midterm of 1890 the country swung heavily to the Democrats, and the Populists won a majority of seats in Nebraska and Kansas.

Combine the swing in 1890 with the tumultuous election of 1894, as well as the drama of the McKinley-Bryan presidential contest in 1896, and you had an electorate that was swinging wildly back and forth between the two political parties, neither of which appeared capable of handling the problems Americans faced.

I think there is something similar happening this decade.  2006, 2008, and now 2010 are all going to be major “wave” elections, and the country is about to re-install the political party it just drove from power 24 months ago.  Dissatisfaction with the political process as well as both parties is at an all-time high, and there is a definite sense that neither party is capable of handling the problems of today.

Republicans need to bear this in mind.  It is my strong belief that 2010 is not going to be a “realigning” election.  This is not an electorate that is rediscovering its long-lost Republicanism.  It is a frustrated, angry electorate turning back to the GOP simply because there are only two parties to choose from.  Republicans thus need to study up on William McKinley – the least appreciated American president – and his “Full Dinner Pail” coalition.  His election in 1896 was the beginning of 33 years of Republican political dominance that was built fundamentally on economic prosperity.  If the GOP wants its 2010 midterm boost to be long lasting, the party has to find a way to bring prosperity back to the United States.

3. Reid Fading in Nevada?  Since July, Harry Reid has clung to a very small lead in the Nevada Senate race, and has not managed to hit 50 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.  Now, two polls released in October show Republican challenger Sharron Angle with a small lead over Reid.  CNN/Time has her up two points, 42-40.  Fox News shows her up three, 49-46. 

While anything is possible, I have a hard time seeing Reid pulling this one out.  I think it will be close, but I think this election is ultimately a referendum on his performance in office, and his job approval numbers have been negative for some time.

4. What’s Really Happening in Connecticut?  Mixed signals from the Nutmeg State.  Two polls – CNN/Time and Rasmussen – have Democrat Richard Blumenthal with a healthy, double-digit lead.  And yet:

The DSCC has for months now insisted that the Connecticut Senate contest is firmly within the Democratic column. And for a time the polling validated that rhetoric. The problem for the committee, now, is that both polling and their spending betrays that notion. After reserving roughly $500,000 in television advertising a couple days ago, the DSCC added yesterday $1.2 million to its ad buy for the remaining three weeks, according to the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.

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