Economy will determine 2010’s political losers (Updated)

If you wonder whether the bums will land on their keisters come Election Day 2010, check out the University of Georgia’s Economic Outlook for next year. If you want to know whether it matters, read on.

The economy, and particularly the job market, is the main X-factor in incumbents’ vulnerability for the 2010 elections. Well, UGA economists reported Tuesday that the only good news is that the bad news is over. The economic recovery following our 18-month-long recession, while sustained, will have all the vigor of a dead-cat bounce.

The economists forecast growth of 1.7 percent in Georgia and an equally mediocre 1.9 percent nationwide. That’s better than a contraction, but it’s less than half the usual rate of expansion after a deep recession.

In fact, growth of 1.9 percent would mean the U.S. economy was actually slowing a bit from the 2.8 percent annualized rate of this summer. Bummer. [Update: Since this initial post, the third-quarter growth rate was revised downward a second time, to 2.2 percent. See here.]

And this recovery, such as it is, will remain fairly jobless. The UGA economists expect the unemployment rate, pegged at 10 percent this year in Georgia, to top 11 percent next summer and average 10.9 percent for the year. Nationally, joblessness will average double-digits in 2010.

If all this comes true, incumbent office holders won’t be able to keep a lid on voters’ anger. Already, the signs were pointing to a ballot-box rebellion.

Nationally, the tendency of the majority party to lose seats in Congress in mid-term elections stands to be worse than average. President Obama, who took office with approval from 64 percent of the public, saw his number fall to 49 percent in the latest Gallup/USA Today poll, with 46 percent disapproval. That’s the worst showing of any president 11 months into his term, dating to Eisenhower.

Several veteran Democratic members of Congress have announced recently that they plan to retire rather than seek re-election. Democrats already have 11 open House seats to defend next fall, vs. just 18 in the last two cycles combined, and party officials have said they expect more departures.

Democrats won’t be alone in facing competition. Twelve Republican House members are vacating their seats. Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition head, predicts there will be more competition in GOP congressional primaries next year than we’ve seen in more than a decade. There will be big primary battles for Senate seats in California, Florida and Pennsylvania, among other races.

In Georgia, the GOP’s legislative majority looked rock-solid until the party was rocked by Speaker Glenn Richardson’s sudden resignation this month and the caucus’s halting response.

At the very least, the gaggle of Republican gubernatorial candidates face a much tougher road due to the Richardson situation and the still-struggling economy.

But what is all this momentum hurtling us toward?

The past 20 years have seen voters put a different party in the White House in 1992, punish Democratic overreach in 1994, re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996; put a different party in the White House in 2000, re-elect George Bush in 2004, punish GOP fecklessness in 2006; put a different party in the White House in 2008. …

At some point, voters will conclude that their pendulumism doesn’t discipline either party. Their short-term response, in D.C. and perhaps under Atlanta’s Gold Dome, may be a lunge toward divided government.

In the long term, this won’t be any more satisfactory than it was for the past 60 years. It’s possible that one of the major parties will be overtaken by a third party. But the fact that neither Democrats nor Republicans seem up to the task isn’t the problem; the problem is the number of tasks each party, once in power, tries to perform.

Limiting government’s responsibilities is where the answer begins. The first party to recognize that reality — and act on it — may be in charge for a long time.


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27 comments Add your comment


December 16th, 2009
7:14 pm

“Pendulumism”. That’s one word you don’t hear often.
Edgar Allen Poe would be proud, Kyle.

David Axelfraud

December 16th, 2009
7:21 pm

Yep, the Democrat Party is imploding.


December 16th, 2009
7:25 pm

- It is interesting how the “oscillation-effect” began over 20 years
ago. Willie Horton, The Rob Lowe scandal, Dukakis in an Army tank,
Bruce Babbitt on a bike, etc. Maybe it’s too much media involvement
and campaign contributions, and not enough voter participation.

Karl Marx

December 16th, 2009
11:27 pm

They never learn. Not very original but, It’s the economy stupid.

Joel Edge

December 17th, 2009
6:51 am

The only problem with limiting governments responsibilities, It’s the last thing a politician wants to do. Kind of like a manufacturer making a product that never breaks. He’ll soon be out of a job. To bad we can’t have a draft for office holders. Pick the best person for the job by common consensus and just tell them “You have the job. We’ll let you off the hook in four years”. Just going on the theory that the people that should be in office won’t seek it. Neither party right now seems to be addressing my concerns for this country. If I knew how to cure the problem, I’d run for office.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

December 17th, 2009
7:04 am

Churchill’s Mom, does our favorite, Johnny Isubsidizedevelopers, have any competition in the republican primary? One would think he is vulnerable, with that wishy-washy voting record. Maybe we can get Jim Wooten to run against him?

Churchill's MOM

December 17th, 2009
8:15 am

Raghead… Johnny the SOCIALIST has an unknown black lawyer from Conyers running as a Democrat and a Marine fighter pilot running as a Libertarian. I am convinced that Johnny Isakson is more dangerous than Saxby. Everyone knows Saxby is a crook and expects him to sell to the highest bidder but Johnny is personally such a nice person that people trust him. The $24 billion housing rip off was the last straw for me. After being brought up as a Republican, I’m going to attend a Libertarian party meeting next week.

Churchill's MOM

December 17th, 2009
8:32 am

Raghead.. here are 2 good articles about the state of the Georgia Republican party. The 1st in my hometown paper pretty well sums up the quality of candidates running (leaving out Johnson linger long problem), I am committed to Handel but would switch to Chapman if she drops out. The 2nd a Pogo piece, ” We have met the enemy and it is us”.

Horrible Horace

December 17th, 2009
8:39 am

Yes…the kenyan and his band of merry fools continue down the sliding slope and into the waiting arms of the Almighty TOILET!!

Kyle Wingfield

December 17th, 2009
8:54 am

I’m sorry, Church’s, but I can’t see how that lengthy post about pythons does any of us here any good.

Hard Right Hook

December 17th, 2009
8:55 am

I think the undercurrent of angst will continue, even if the economy begins to accelerate. One period of 3% growth does not a recovery make.

The increased determination of the electorate to get further involved (New Jersey, VA) in the process may mean many seats will be lost, regardless of D or R behind the name. Incumbency has become a very unpopular word, and the momentum to “throw the bums out” may really manifest itself this mid-term.

Churchill's MOM

December 17th, 2009
9:01 am

Wingboy, that $18,000 reward, would really help an ambulance chaser like Raghead.. Have a great day, I’ve got to go do a class mother deal for the youngest..


December 17th, 2009
9:23 am

The problems are that Republicans don’t care about the poor and the middle class…and the Democrats don’t have managable policies statewide. A Republican has YET to ask for my vote….so why should I vote to maintain the status quo???


December 17th, 2009
9:26 am

I love the American dream and our standard of living is the best in the world, why do the dimacrats hate that? They are trying to devalue the dollar so that our standard of living is brought down to the rest of the world standard. Are people to stupid to see that?

BS Aplenty

December 17th, 2009
10:59 am

Interesting strategy for out-of-favor politicians, as the Dems find themselves, to retire as a means of eliminating that “incumbent” label on the ballot. I guess we can use this congressional retiree/total congressional party members as a key indicator to which party has more to lose during the mid-terms. This type of political strategy sounds eerily similar to the one Obama used to distance himself from Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ.

a) find an aging, politically at-risk, congressional Democrat fall-guy/gal,
b) find a reason to ridicule him/her for being an “impure” party member, not being true to the real, true party doctrine, and
c) find a more moderate Dem candidate who might appeal to independent voters if he can shed the Obama connection.

Actually, that’s not half-bad BS.

BS Aplenty

December 17th, 2009
11:01 am

The mid-terms are the Republicans to lose. Let’s see if we can find some leadership before we give away the advantage.


December 17th, 2009
11:21 am

Interesting stuff from California’s Governor, he is saying the non believers of Man made Climate change, are living in the “Stone Ages” .

The governor then said this to ‘Good Morning America’ Tuesday: “I think there are people that just don’t believe in fixing and working on the environment. They don’t believe there is such a thing as global warming, they’re still living in the Stone Age.”

A Republican that can think for himself !


December 17th, 2009
11:24 am

This economy will not return with any vigor until the American people, especially those who actually are in a position to create jobs or finance their creation, get the feeling that this administration has finished it’s assault on private industry. This theme has been a transparent undertone to everything this administration has done since they took over. The result is that this group of people are guaranteed they will see hugh tax increases, and ever increasing pressure and regulation from a group of people who know absolutely nothing about what they do and how business operates.

I think the recent makeup of the Obama administration which Kyle posted was as telling as anything I’ve seen as to what’s going wrong. A group of academic elites and lawyers can’t fix a capitalist based economy!

Horrible Horace

December 17th, 2009
12:28 pm


December 17th, 2009
9:26 am

Exactly…most are far too stupid to understand the underlying movtivations. Again…yes…they are TOO STUPID!

David Axelfraud

December 17th, 2009
1:01 pm

I guess James Carville and Paul Bagala spoke too soon when they said conservatism was over.

Boo hoo. Poor Democrat Party.

Democrats’ Blues Grow Deeper in New Poll

WASHINGTON — Less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

David Axelfraud

December 17th, 2009
1:03 pm

Jay Bookman and Cynthia Tucker are boo hooing right now. Cynthia has some lame article about “white conservatives” who pray for the death of the health care bill. Jay Bookman has a piece on how the Democrat Party has a hard time governing.



Sarah Palin is lauging all the way to the bank right now.


December 17th, 2009
1:13 pm

Kyle….. interesting comment…… ?Limiting government’s responsibilities is where the answer begins.”

Especially in light od all the banking failures, and wall street mess ups……..

Ragnar Danneskjöld

December 17th, 2009
2:07 pm

Dear Kyle, a word of explanation, a month or so ago Churchills’s Mom asked me about my whereabouts, and I mentioned that if she heard of any large snakes being picked up in the Everglades, that it was probably me. Sounds like she posted a joke aimed at your humble correspondent. Suppose we sometimes drift far afield here. Unrelated, if I would put up the $3,000 or whatever the registration fee is, do you think we could get Jim Wooten to run against Johnny?


December 17th, 2009
2:09 pm

I would guess that the unemployment figures for 2010 and the elections of 2010 & 2012 will closely follow the unemployment figures for the 1982 election and the 1984 election and the recovery from that deep recession. Unemployment was double digit for 10 straight months & it looked like Reagan was in big trouble. But, it never happened.
Unemployment figures by month:

1980-10 7.50% (Oct 1980)- figures for the 1980 election
1981-01 7.50 Reagan sworn in
1982-03 9.00
1982-07 9.80 (July) trend is up
1982-09 10.10
1982-10 10.40% – the 1982 off year elections – Reps. lose 27 in House, 0 in Senate.
1982-11 10.80
1982-12 10.80
1983-01 10.40
1983-03 10.30
1983-04 10.20 trend is down – recovery
1983-05 10.10
1983-06 10.10 last double digit month
1983-09 9.20 percentage going down from here
1984-10 7.40 figures for the 1984 election – Reagan re-elected

I would expect the 2010 & 2012 elections to go about like the 1982 & 1984 elections. But one factor may change this – the growing “tea party” attitude (for lack of a better term) among the electorate. After 50 years of pleading, I may get my wish & no Incumbents will be re-elected.
(Sorry for the length).

Team Teleprompter!!!!

December 17th, 2009
2:13 pm

Blanche Lincoln (D) Arkansas, she is done in November. Chris Dodd (D) Connecticut, he is done in November. Harry Reid hopefully won’t get re-elected, its not looking good for him. More to follow soon………………….

Churchill's MOM

December 17th, 2009
2:38 pm

Rag Head, I would put up the fee myself for Jim, (who is far to much a Republican and not a conservative) or anyone else who would point out Johnny’s LIBERAL voting record. If we can’t fire a crook like Saxby, Johnny is home free..

By the way didn’t you vote for Saxby to get the FAIR tax? Has he done anything about it or is he too busy playing golf.

[...] be right now. He expects the economy to grow twice as fast, for instance, as the forecasts given by S&P and UGA economists earlier this month. But, like them, he points out that this growth will be slower than the usual [...]