Turnout Anxiety

Mike Soraghan at The Hill points out some interesting electoral math today:

There are 79 more Democrats than Republicans in the lower chamber, giving Pelosi a strong working majority. But her caucus includes 84 Democrats who represent districts won by either President George W. Bush in 2004 or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

Soraghan’s broader point examines the anxiety attack that is becoming epidemic among Democratic moderates in the House, to wit, that they are beginning to feel like force fed veal calves that can smell the 2010 abattoir (midterms). Asked to expend precious political capital on an already unpopular Cap and Trade bill that arguably is DOA in the Senate (not to mention the failed stimulus), these same Democrats are being herded by Speaker Pelosi to support an even more poisonous healthcare bill. Some don’t like the look of things to come:

Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress.

Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.

“She [Pelosi] keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.”

Another Blue Dog lawmaker put it more bluntly.

“They’re seriously endangering their majority,” said the Blue Dog, who requested anonymity. “With the increased margin and a [Democratic] president, there seems to be a different feeling.”

What these Democrats don’t like to discuss, and what the media enablers of President Obama fret secretly about, is turnout. Midterm elections historically have a lower turnout than Presidential election years. The 2008 Magical Obama Mystery Tour created a turnout of monumental proportions that is unlikely to be repeated in midterm down ticket races on the Democrat side. Also, John McCain garnered two million fewer votes in 2008 than Bush did in 2004.

What tells me those reluctant Republicans that stayed home in 2008 will show up in 2010? Well, thanks for asking. The answer is: Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. The electorate (and those moderate Democrats from Bush and McCain districts) is much better informed about the ideology of President Obama than they were about the ideology of Candidate Obama. There is an opportunity for some true conservative leader to step up and take advantage of the disaster awaiting Democrats that have overestimated their mandate.

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