The Price of Depression, the Upside of Optimism


Without endorsing the results in detail, since I think it’s actually a bit out of date, I thought a glance at Nate Silver’s ranking of the top ten “most likely to change hands” Senate seats might help explain some of the divergent point of view about the extent to which it makes sense for bloggers to spend their time whining about the Obama administration. Suppose Democrats picked up those top four “red” seats. A Democrat from Kentucky would probably resemble Ben Nelson and not hugely alter the landscape. But at a minimum, it would create a situation in which no single senator can hold everything hostage to his or her whim, and open up some negotiating flexibility. Sherrod Brown from Ohio is one of the most liberal members of the caucus. Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire is more-or-less around the middle of the pack. Claire McCaskill is not the most solidly loyal vote, but she’s less troublesome to the leadership than several other alternatives.

Long story short, substantial new horizons of public policy would be opened up.

By contrast, what happens if a demoralized progressive base decides they don’t like the bills that have been passing, and the GOP sweeps all its winnable races. Well, now we’re in a situation where legislating requires the assent of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson but also Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and new Senators Mike Castle and Rob Simmons. Nothing that anyone finds disappointing about the current situation is going to be improved by that outcome.