Because of the considerable amount of economic data that is coming to voter’s attention now it is reasonable to expect that politicians will exacerbate attempts to manage the interpretation of this information. Managing expectations is the necessary task of all politicians. The more cynical political practitioners would claim that managing expectations is the very DNA of political survival.
With that in mind it is a wonder how the Trilateral Commissariat of Obama/Pelosi/Reid intend to manage voter expectations as unemployment worsens and the economy continues to shrink. There are no discernable indications that unemployment growth will change in the next year. In other words, job losses will continue. There are also no indications that the economy, which is driven by consumer consumption (70%), will recover. Recent GDP data that showed a slow down in the rate of GDP decline was greeted by a hallelujah chorus in the Washington/New York press corps. Smart people know better.
The biggest political conundrum today is whether the Democratic Party can ride out the current downturn and retain majorities in the House and Senate. (DJ has some related thoughts below) Some say RNC Chairman Michael Steele has found his voice. Color me unconvinced. Economic realities and political circumstances have presented Republicans with the biggest political target in decades but it remains to be seen if the opposition party can even field a competitive response in 2010.
During the run up to the 1994 midterms there were several galvanizing issues that brought together a voter revolt against fifty years of Democratic majorities. Among them were the House check kiting scandal, the HillaryCare failure, a disconnected and ineffective House leadership (Rostenkowski and Foley) and an organized Republican opposition led by Newt Gingrich.
Republican incumbents paid dearly in 2006 for abandoning core principles on fiscal responsibility. While the unanimous House opposition to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid stimulus bill was a good start, it’s hard to win with just a good defense. Somewhere out of the Independent/Republican/Blue Dog Democrat/Tea Party mix must emerge a fiscal and social conservative that can bring together a majority. Not since 1979 has an economic scenario and flawed incumbent policy so favored a Party out of power.