If there's anything I've learned about the mainstream media, it's that they either act like a pack or a herd. How many times have we seen articles like this one from last week's Star?
With Republican voters favoring conservatives over moderates in this month's primary election, Arizona Democrats believe their chances of retaking the state House in the general election — or at least making significant gains — have new life.
Sure, Democrats are going to take over the State House. All they have to do is retain the upsets they won in 2006 and then add four new seats. Give me a break.
Here's a fun quiz. What was the media reporting before Republicans got crushed in 2006? How about this.
Salmon and other Republican officials remain hopeful they can gain legislative seats in the state House and Senate, where the GOP is a handful of seats away from a veto-proof supermajority.
In fact, if you put "veto-proof" and "Republican" into the Republic archives you will get 27 articles discussing how the Republicans were going to build a two thirds majority in both houses so they could override Governor Napolitano's vetoes.
Needless to say, it didn't really work out that way.
The talk of a veto-proof majority in 2006 was evidence of a bombastic GOP leadership and a gullible media reflecting on Republican gains in 2004 and projecting them onto 2006. Now that same echo chorus is taking Democratic gains from 2006 and projecting them onto 2008.
However Democrats are about as likely to take over the House in 2008 as Republicans were of getting a supermajority in 2006.
On March 20th I wrote a post called "A Republican Year?" in which I suggested that Arizona Republicans were going to make significant gains in November.
McCain is obviously going to win Arizona, so the national Republican and Democratic parties aren't going to spend a lot of resources on the top of the Arizona ticket. Combine the lack of outside influence with the fact that McCain energizes the Republican-leaning Independents and moderate Republicans who will turn out in droves, and I think you have the makings for unusually high Republican turnout.
Since then three things have happened that make me even more confident that 2008 will be a Republican year in Arizona. First, of course is that Sarah Palin--and the media/Democratic Party's over the top reaction to her--have mobilized the Republican base.
Second is that I think it's becoming clear that McCain is appealing to moderate Republicans and Republican leaning Independent voters. Those voters are now more likely to come to the polls and they are likely to vote Republican down the ballot.
I've been searching for a way to make the point that McCain appeals to the "Reagan Democrats." I was actually thinking about this post while on the 202 last week when this truck blew by me. It's hard to make the image out because I took the shot at full zoom through my windshield while going about 75 MPH, but the sticker in the middle of the rear window says USMC. The one to the right of that is a new McCain '08 sticker and the one on the left bumper say "Union Carpenter."
If Romney were the nominee, I think this guy would have stayed home. If Hillary Clinton were the nominee, this guy would probably have voted a Democratic ticket. Now he has a McCain sticker on his truck and I think he's likely to vote Republican as he makes his way down the ballot.
The final factor that predicts large gains for Arizona Republicans is that Republicans have been making gains nationally. In fact, for the first time since 2006, Republicans are leading the generic ballot. Here's a graph from Gallup.
This graph shows that when I wrote my original post, Republicans trailed Democrats by 15 points. Now the number is three. And when Gallup adjusted the poll to reflect most likely voters, Republicans have a five point edge. That led Gallup to conclude:
If these numbers are sustained through Election Day -- a big if -- Republicans could be expected to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
So how do these three factors--Palin energizes the base, McCain energizes the Independents and Republicans gain nationally--affect Arizona in November? Here's how I think it will play out.
If the three trends that I've described actually prove true on election day, then Republicans will gain at least two seats in the House and one in the Senate.
Republicans are favored in the Pinal County seat that Pete Rios has vacated in District 23.
Democrats will have trouble repeating their upset victories in the District 26 (Northern Tucson and Oro Valley). Al Melvin has now managed to defeat both Toni Hellon and Pete Hershberger and should have no problem winning the Senate seat. The House seat is likely to go Republican as well.
Republicans will probably pick up a seat in District 24 (Yuma). And if all three trends maintain their strength, then Republicans should regain a seat in District 10 as well.
Democrats have essentially already lost the District 11 seat held by Mark DeSimone, and Republicans have essentially already lost the District 25 seat held by Jennifer Burns. However, Burns was a reliable Democratic vote and DeSimone's replacement John Altman is a conservative Republican, so even though Republicans don't officially gain a seat, they add the equivalent of one seat to the caucus.
Meanwhile, Democrats argue that Conservative victories in the Primary make Republicans vulnerable in Districts 26 and 30. And that registration inroads--and a ton of cash--make Speaker Weiers vulnerable in 10. That may have been true in 2006 with Napolitano, Goddard and Pederson on the ballot and Republicans screwing up Congress, but I don't see it this year.
I think the most likely scenario is that Melvin wins the District 26 Senate seat and two of the four House seats go Republican. If all three trends come together in a perfect storm, then Republicans could conceivably pick up four house seats.
Congressional races are harder to predict because they are less random. Voters are more likely to know the candidates and they may cross over. It wouldn't surprise me at all if people vote for John McCain and Gabby Giffords.
Six months ago, I would have said that all three of the Congressional Districts that are currently in play would go Democratic. The power of incumbency is so overwhelming that Mitchell and Giffords should be safe and the Republican brand in District one should be so damaged that Kirkpatrick would defeat Hay.
However, the McCain, Palin and Generic Ballot trends make it more likely that these Districts revert to normal voting patterns. Let's face it, District 5 is a Republican seat. If the trends hold and he doesn't get outspent 4 to 1, Schweikert should beat Mitchell.
In District one, there's no incumbent, the registration is about equal and a lot of the Democrats are of the conservative "blue dog" variety. If trends hold, Sidney Hay should win that seat.
District 8 is tougher. I think Gabby will have a lot of cross over voters and the numbers are pretty equal. In my perfect storm scenario, Tim Bee could win, but I think it will be a tough race.
Maricopa County Attorney
Give me a break. Thomas by double digits.
For the Archive
It's tough to go on record with a post like this. If I'm wrong, the rest of my career will be "remember how bad Patterson botched it in 2008." And if I'm right, the media will be treating the Republican victories like conventional wisdom.
But anyone can go along with the herd. This post describes current trends that I think have been ignored by the Mainstream Media together with the implications of those trends.
My analysis may be wrong, but it's certainly not conventional
I welcome your (polite) comments.