Obama's Vindication in the Midst of "Disaster"

By Jason Kettinger | Posted at 2:37 PM

The media are setting us up. This is nothing new; they have basically carried water for the Democratic Party for at least 50 years and that habit shows no signs of abating. Have you noticed that they've been telling us for a year that the Dems are going to be shelled in this election? There is more to that prediction than meets the eye.

Unlike the mid-term elections of 1994, when almost no one saw the GOP’s success coming, the conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats are doomed. In reality, the situation is not that simple.

I do not mean to contradict the mostly excellent array of pollsters around the country, nor do I think the GOP will fail to take the House. But if you were a member of the media, by definition in the tank for Obama and the Democrats, what would be the most useful thing for Obama and the party?

That’s correct: join in the chorus of doom and, when the Dems perform slightly better than disastrous, praise Obama and the party for fighting the good fight and staving off disaster.

What could be better than that? The president’s party can have their wilderness wandering and soul-searching. They can wring their hands over the “obstructionist” Republicans. They can do all this well before the 2012 presidential election arrives.

See “Clinton, Bill.”

If Obama learns anything from his first mid-term experience, he will turn right as his predecessor from Arkansas did and let the GOP Congress set the agenda. He will face a primary challenge from Hillary to be sure, but if he plays it right, he will force her left, thus neutralizing her in the current political environment. Obama beat her in 2008 that way. (Ironic that he put her away by railing against the individual mandate in her health plan and then he stole it!)

Real Clear Politics, which aggregates polling data to forecast the outcome of U.S. elections, has the GOP holding 224 seats in the House in the next congress, more than the necessary 218 to achieve a majority. There are also loads of toss-ups that could join the others in flipping from blue to red.

That said – and I have been gloriously wrong before – I do not expect any more than 235 seats to be in the GOP's hands at the end of tomorrow. There are too many highly local contests to spell catastrophe for the Dems.

Not every Democratic House member can be legitimately tied to Speaker Pelosi. Moreover, the candidates who provided the majority in 2006 and 2008 are not terribly liberal.

They will find their way in what will be an establishment Republican House. Because a working supermajority in the Senate requires 60 votes, it is not as if the House will be able to do anything too significant.

When the dust settles, I expect the final House tally to be 235-200 (or very close). Plenty of room to rebuff those who said the Democrats were going down in flames and to interpret the “modest losses” as some vindication for the president.

But, Obama misinterpreted one election; he can do it again.

Jason Kettinger is a contributing editor and senior political analyst to Open for Business.