Earlier today at the National Press Club, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) predicted Barack Obama would win big on November 4th, with more than 300 votes in the Electoral College. I now await the anxious emails from my Democratic readers expressing their concern that Schumer may have jinxed the Obama-Biden ticket with his on-the-record prognostication.
While Schumer has actually made similar predictions in the past, what struck me as more interesting were the comments by his Republican colleague Senator John Ensign of Nevada. Both men were speaking at a National Press Club event in their capacity as chairmen of their respective senatorial campaign committees. In noting this has been a tough election year for Republican candidates, Ensign remarked, “We have a country who thinks that not only Republicans hold the White House, but about half the country still think that Republicans are in charge of the House and the Senate.”
I hadn’t really thought about the possibility that a majority of Americans might still think Republicans control Congress. While I haven’t seen any data on this question, it is probably out there somewhere. The argument against Democratic candidates in congressional races around the country (including here in New Hampshire) has to a large extent focused on the fact that public approval of the Democratic-controlled Congress is even lower than that for President Bush. If significant numbers of voters are not making this distinction, and are instead blaming Republicans, then the situation would be especially bleak for the party. Ensign may not have meant the remark literally, but it raises a fascinating question of voter perception with real electoral consequences.
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