Mlid-Term Elections 2010

Fall                                        Waning Harvest Moon

Politics in Minnesota started its private subscriber newsletter this week with this (to me) sobering paragraph:

“The big news today is last night’s KSTP/SurveyUSA poll showing a virtual tie between Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer heading toward Tuesday’s election. This year partisans of all stripes have had the opportunity to pick and choose among a selection of cheerfully discrepant, mutually contradictory polls; by selectively holding up their internal data, you can “prove” almost anything about the race.”

It would be nice if Minnesota proved an exception to what looks like an otherwise ugly election day, but that remains to be seen.  As always, only a whole lot rides on this election.  In particular, control of this state and many others for the popular political sport called gerrymandering.  That means, in essence, that the big winners of this by-election will have a good shot at creating favorable political districts for themselves for the next decade.  Ouch.

(As last year, myself and comrades will be combing the late night spots and digging up new voters.)

As matters cease to have the one and done significance my younger self ascribed to all elections, I can see this election in a broader pattern.  A new president’s party always, almost always, loses seats in the by-election.  Due to a confluence of factors this one may be worse than others for the Democrats.  There is wide spread anger at the state of the economy as the working class and the soon-to-be-retiring class both find their futures crimped by a stagnant and perhaps deflating economy.  The war in Afghanistan long ago passed all U.S. records for foreign entanglements and Obama seems to have achieved no political credit for closing out troop actions in Iraq.  The passage of the economic stimulus, which will, like the health care legislation, be seen by history as critically important for our nations future have also failed to stick to Obama’s credit.  This means something is wrong with his handlers, but perhaps, too, with this cerebral, even style.   On top of these realities is the Tea Party, a not so new mix of populist politics and ideas created in the heyday of such notable movements as the John Birch Society.

From a legislative perspective in Minnesota the terrain still looks unclear today, four + days before the election, but it will clear up a lot by Wednesday of next week.  Not a fun funny season if you’re on the left edge of the political spectrum as I am.