Man Without Qualities

Saturday, October 26, 2002

UPDATE: A Sea-Change Signifying Nothing in November?

In a prior post concerning the upcoming elections, the Man Without Qualities has discussed why it is likely that the margins of error for the predictions of politicians, pollsters and pundits are probably a lot higher than in the past, and a lot higher than many of them are now acknowledging. Instead, many such people appear to be concluding that nothing much new is likely to happen.

There is a widely observed apparent sea-change in the American voting populace. I believe that sea-change's potential (but not certainty) to cause some major reallignments in November is most clearly indicated in the New York governor's race, in which the Democrat may even come in third (but, in any event, seems to be heading for a very poor second), and in an apparent unusual shortage of cash for Democrats nationally. However, I am far from calling the apparent sea-change as favoring Republicans or conservatives as such or across the board. Rather, the improvement of Senator Wellstone's standing following his vote against the Iraq war resolution and before his tragic death suggests that the shift may be more nuanced - perhaps favoring those who work from principles, in contrast to the Clinton style opportunists. The November results may provide the first hard information on the nature of this apparent shift in voter attitudes.

Some pollsters say that Republicans now seem to have a distinct edge in retaining control of the House, while control of the Senate is uncertain. However, many people have not made up their minds - and if there is going be be a big change on way or the other, I suspect it is those late-deciders who will make the difference:

"It's literally just about now that the 20 percent to 30 percent of the electorate ... are beginning to tune in for the first time," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster.

"The people don't move and focus until the last five days," agreed House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, hoping economic issues will trigger a late surge that delivers congressional control to his party.

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