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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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US Midterms question
delirium happy
I'm far from an expert in US politics. I am, however, an interested observer. I was wondering if someone from leftpondia could explain something to me. As I understand things, the state of play is something like this:

The Bush administration is massively unpopular at the moment.
Historically, it is rare for one party to have control of the presidency, the senate, and the house of representatives.
Before these elections, the Republicans did so.
The Democrats now have a reasonable majority in the house.
The absolute best they can hope for in the senate (with Virginia and Montana still uncertain) is for no party to have an overall majority, but for Democrats to be in control due to support of independants.

And yet, the Democrats seem to be celebrating this like it's some massive victory. As far as I can see, this isn't a victory at all. It's achieving the sort of base minimum of where they should be, inspite of mass dissolusionment with the opposition. To me, these results are saying "well really, we're only voting for you as the least worst option, but you don't excite us at all".

So my question is whether there's something else going on that I just don't grasp (very likely), or whether the great big celebration is all a show (fairly likely), or whether the people involved are too dumb to realise they could be doing a whole lot better (less likely, but not beyond the realms of possibility). Explain, anyone?

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Two things stopped it being a much bigger victory.
  1. The House is gerrymandered. I mean, really gerrymandered
    • When Gingrich won with Contract of America, many many more seats were competetive
    • Both sides have colluded to make their seats as safe as possible, so that incumbents are hard to shift. Look at these districts in Georgia and Texas for example, both rigged to make them safe
  2. Only a third of the Senate was up for election, and the timing of when Senators get re-elected is a mystery to me.

Basically, if it was a straight 'every seat is up for grabs' job, they'd have won much bigger, but it wasn't.

Also, USian commentators don't seem to do basic analytical tricks like swing analysis and similar. Even finding out what the vote percentages were in some of the seats is a pain in the arse. I plan to did out some data and do what I can, but it appears to have been pretty big.

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