January 20, 2010

The Brown Fallout - Where to now?

A Republican Senate win in Massachusetts has big implications. What happens next is anybody's guess, but judging by the post-Brown fallout there's two possible courses of action for the President and the Democrats to follow - either drift back to the center, or double down on the health care push.

Here's my top of the head "decision tree". This is too simplistic but I think the President is leaning towards jamming the Senate bill through the Congress, bypassing Brown.

I don't see the President doing what Bill Clinton did - drifting to the center out of necessity. Not before next November. The President will push hard on two memes now - the problems in the economy are Bush's fault, not mine and the other one is that the Republicans are the party of 'no', even though there is tangible evidence to the contrary. He's going to rely on the press to keep his back.

Congressional and Senate Democrats, aside from the leadership, will likely reject that message out of fear for their own political careers. Will it matter for November? Yes, some will simply decide to retire, others may save their seats and others still will be too far gone. If the President does double down, it might just serve to keep Republican and Independent voters energized through the mid-term elections. I still see 35 to 40 seats gained in Congress and 4 to 5 in the Senate for Republicans.

The other big factor in mid-term elections is the economy. Expect the jobless rate to stay above 9.5%, and likely above 10%. That combined with another spending-spree stimulus will drive Democrat popularit even further down.

It's too early to tell, but I think a Democrat collapse is still the mostly likely outcome in November. There's more, a lot more to consider and a lot more to happen between now and then. The President's words are potentially spin, or truly believed by him. When over the next few weeks, especially at the State of the Union Address, things become more clear, the branches of the tree diagram will start to fall away and it will be easier to re-cast 2010.

It's going to be a very interesting year.

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