Predictions about US Elections Nov 2010

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

These have been termed the most important US elections outside a presidential race in recent times and for good reason. President Obama’s prospects in 2012 are on the line. Well here are my predictions:

US Senate: Out of 37 seats Republicans will win 25. This will bring their tally to 48.  Democrats and independents will win 12 and retain the house.

US House of Representatives: Out of 435 seats Republicans are going to win 228 and Democrats will have at the end of the day 207.

Thank you for reading.

19 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

19 responses to “Predictions about US Elections Nov 2010

  1. krash

    It will be R233/D202 in the House and R48/D52 in the Senate

  2. Feroz Khan

    The first decision a new president makes, when entering the Oval Office, is to get re-elected. Everything else, that then follows is a compromise with that basic principle and in the bargain, promises and pledges are forgotton and disappointment creeps into the people, who dared to believe in a change.

    Obama was elected because there was no viable alternative and his promise of a change could only materialize had he foregone the second term of office and had he done what was necessary, change might have been possible. The differing numbers in Congress do not really matter, because what is of importance is how the game is played and by whose rules, is it played.

    This election is just a rehersal for 2012 and in that election, we should not assume the cast will remain the same. The Republicans seem to be pitching for Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton was looking to 2016 as the year of her bid for the presidency, but if the Democrats suffer the loss of their majorities, Clinton might start to move away from Team Obama in order to position herself for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

    In any case, even if the Democrats retain their majority with a slender margin, it raises questions about their ability to push their legislation through Congress and what ever piece of legislation makes it to the floor, will be so compromised and whittled down that it will be a stranger to its original self.

    The American system of government, based as it is on the system of checks and balances, is designed to create a grid-lock and this grid-lock was created on purpose and the reason behind it was to favor compromise as the prefered means of reaching a consensus on any particular bill.

    If the Congress is evenly divided between the Republicans and the Democrats, we will see a grid-lock and given the partisan nature of politics in the United States, we should not expect any major legislative movement in Congress as both the Democratic and the Republican stance is too polarized on their core issues and both parties will be voting on the issues, with an eye towards 2012.

    In such a case, this election could turn out to be a phyrric victory for the Democrats even if they retain their majorities and Obama presidency will be handicapped and this will give the Republicans the arguments to showcase the Obama presidency as a lame duck presidency and to show Obama, personally, as an ineffective president till the next election.

    It is 11:52 am here on the East Coast and by evening, I could be dead wrong or proven right. (lol)

    ciao

  3. krash

    @Ferozek,
    “….by evening, I could be dead wrong or proven right.”

    Huh?
    What is the prediction?

  4. Caroline

    @Feroz
    Uh Huh! I thought you were In Pakistan!

    You are sooooo right! This is just going to create deadlock! The only chance we had to change anything, if at all, was to turn over the Senate! Now we still have “Dingy Harry”! However, the Republicans just loooove those plush leather chairs as much as the Dems do, so they aren’t going to change anything either!

    This Blog however is about how American politics affects Pakistan and I would like for you to comment on just how you think that this election is going to affect it if at all.

    P.S. Please take a look at Jamestownfoundation.org Conference coming up on December 9th.

  5. @ krash (November 3, 2010 at 1:34 am)

    When it comes to politics in the United States, the understanding of the process is more important than making predictions as to how many seats a particular party might have in Congress.

    There is a “due process” to everything in the United States and this applies to politics as well. The political process in the United States is unlike in Pakistan, where the political emphasis is on the end result.

    @ Caroline (November 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm)

    How will this all effect Pakistan?

    There are a couple of answers to that question. If you go by the conventional wisdom, it will suggest that the Republicans will be less likely to press Pakistan on human rights issues and more understanding towards the Pakistani military.

    Silent lucidity would suggest that the nature of war will intensify and in any case, the nature of the war will be different because with the Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, they will be the ones controlling the appropiations for the war and the schemes/ideas which they favor will get the funding and that in turn means, it will be an early Christmas for the Pentagon.

    The Republicans will give a free rein to the miltary operations, and as to Pakistan; we should expect the same policies towards Pakistan as under George Bush, Jr. but in a slightly diluted sense.

    The more interesting outcome of this election will be on the domestic politics of the United States itself. The Republican “surge” was made possible by the efforts of the Tea Party and now with the Republicans winning the House of Represenatives, the Tea Party will be expecting some returns for its support and will play a critical role in influencing the legislation which will pass through this Congress.

    If I have to guess, I would say America just moved a little to the right but then, the Americans in times of financial troubles have always favored the Republicans instead of the Democrats and this election was about the recession, role of Islam in America and not the wars being fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and maybe, soon to be fought in Yemen.

    ciao

  6. Perspective

    One of Nov 2 election results:

    Oklahoma on Tuesday approved a ballot measure blocking judges from considering Islamic or international law when making a ruling.

    Nearly 70 percent of voters in the state cast ballots approving the measure.

    The proposition’s sponsor, Republican Rex Duncan, told reporters Tuesday that the proposition is a “preemptive strike” against judges who he worries could be “legislating from the bench or using international law or Sharia law.”

  7. Gorki

    A change at the congress level usually has a far smaller impact on foreign policy than the cnhange in the white house.
    Thus in the short run, this election will not affect the war much.
    In the long run too, the congress will have less input but the election is bound to affect Obama, who as Feroz mentioned will now focus on his re election.
    For this reason it is more important to notice the signal that the voters have sent to Washington rather than the number of seats won or lost.
    The message is as follows:

    1. The old Republican party has been pulled sharpy to the right by the tea party; expect more xenophobia locally, more in your face Republicans and right wing talk and other media (read between the lines what Perspective pointed out)

    2. A closer fiscal scrutiny; less largesse to foreign countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan

    3. Stronger sentiment against outsourcing (though this is likely to be more rhetorical than real)

    4. Less talk of compromise and understanding and more hubris; the NY mosque is unlikely to get any more political support anytime soon.

    Regards.

  8. @Feroz; Yes, the American Defense Industry needs up close and “personal” help from our congress! So does Pakistan; we need not let this ally go down the drain at this point. We have caused them additional pain in their search for stability.

    As to “Who Shot John”, ask the “mixmaster”, under the stars, and I will tell you!

    Hasta que nos encontremos otra vez

  9. @ Caroline

    Do you remember Nixon winning office in 1968 and the bombings of Laos and Cambodia? I am guessing that maybe, history will repeat itself.

    ciao

  10. Humanity

    “Mr. Obama, It’s Time for Some Poetry” , a great Op-Ed column by Nicholos Kristof!

    “Likewise, even F.D.R. suffered a severe midterm defeat in 1938. “The New Deal has been halted,” The New York Times declared at the time. But Roosevelt learned his lessons and won two more presidential elections after that, cementing his place in history.

    My hunch is that Mr. Obama is also capable of learning lessons and growing as a president. And the Republican-majority House will offer a fine target for improved messaging — especially if its first priority will be to worsen the budget deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. ”

    President Obama will learn to toot the horn and clearly convey to the voters the achievements of the Democrats over the past two years. Health care reform, in itself is a monumental victory which will have far reaching results.

    I predict that President Obama will cement a place in history as a great two-term president.

  11. @Feroz
    “Operation Menu”. Of Course! You’ll be pleasantly surprised of the outcome I assure you.

  12. Feroz: As to American Politics, you know so much about it and I would like to add further something that I have found about my fellow countrymen in the current political situation. They all seem to think that they can “Pray” Obama and the Democrats out of office. They seem to forget who put them in there in the first place. Their own apathy and greed! My grandmother was one of the few true Christians I have ever known and I used to sit in the old swing with her on her old front porch while she studied her Bible every morning. She taught me one thing about prayer and that was, do not pray for “things”, or “help”, but for “guidance”. I remember a quote from Mark 8:10-12 “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”

    I ask you, why do they believe that they are so special?

  13. @ Caroline

    I do not think that it is only the Americans, who are looking for a “sign”.

    Back in the old homeland, they are still waiting for the messiah to come.

    As to praying Obama and the Democrats out of office, one has to debate the power of the prayer in the United States. United States has steadily drifted towards the right and when I was working for the Congress and the Republicans in the 1990s, the holy mantra was the Christian Coalition but that did not mean a re-discovery of religion and with the preachers on the TV, prayer become a sound-byte in the United States and religion, all shades of it as practiced on television, is a new form of entertainment packaged with monetary values in mind and popularly commercialized.

    Religion has lost its spirituality, at least from what it seemed to me, and has become a part of the popular culture. How can you ask for guidance form a popular culture? Even so, will you recognize the signs, when they appear? I think, the most perspective comment on this issue perhaps belongs to the words of “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkle, when words to the song say “…and the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they had created….”

    When I think back and remember that the song was orginally commissioned for the movie, The Graduate, an esoteric smile creeps across my face.
    The movie was about alienation and the anguish of making choices and we have all, at one stage or another, experienced the paralysis of indecision in our lives and is a prayer not offered, but to seek guidance to escape from a paralysis of indecision?

    Is religion a chisel to the human soul which is like a block of marble and guidance the act of the Master Sculptor, who chips the stone and shapes the marble into an expression of His Will?

    One has to know what one wishes for in order to ask for guidance, because otherwise a prayer is only a collection of words devoid of any sense of awe and spirituality.

    The fear of God and once that sentiment is lost in the hearts of the followers, is what disabuses a religion in the popular imagination and religion becomes a hollow rhetorical capstone to a social joke uttered for the sake of banality if for nothing else.

    You asked “why” and my cynical answer is that with the commercialization of religion, we might have, perhaps, subsituted God with Santa Claus and like our Christmas wishes, which have more to do with our wanton sense of greed and possessions and egoism, our prayers have become a new “Christmas list” of sorts seeking and demanding instant material gratification of self-indulgence instead of a guidance to the betterment of the soul.

    Then again, on a different level and from a different perspective, it is about a loss of hope and a prayer is associated with the last act performed in a situation filled with desperation. When nothing works, we revert to saying a prayer, because it calms us and reassures us and personally speaking, Americans praying Obama and the Democrats away makes perfect sense in a symbolic sense.

    The American electorate suffered an irrepairable loss of belief in their political system and in their politicans after Watergate. If John F. Kennedy’s Camelot was to be the realization of the Amerian hope; Watergate was the death spasm of that hope. Watergate disassociated the Americans from the believe that the government was for the good of the people and in the subsequent events after Watergate, the political experience of the American electorate was similar to that of Alice in the Wonderland deciding between Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum for their elected leaders.

    Hence, it was the same sentiment which the Americans expressed about George Bush, Jr. and how they could “wish” him away. It was the end of the idealism known as Americana and that idealism, literally died, not when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963, but when Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California primary in 1968 and when for a brief shining moment, in the dark gloom of the Vietnam War, the dream for Camelot seemed possible and within reach once more.

    I still remember the words Robert F. Kennedy said, when told of the death of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He was campaigning in the Deep South and against advice, waded into a group of a silent crowd of African-Americans and told them the news and then said some words from an ancient Greek: let us go out and tame the savage nature of this world and make gentle the life of man.

    Praying Obama and the Demcrats away is like praying for rain; it says more about our own innate loss of confidence in the political system than it actually bespeaks of a religious fervour.

    This was a rather more personal response than I would have liked to respond, but I hope I have answered your question.

    ciao

  14. Feroz………….I hope it was as good for you as it was for me!

  15. @ Caroline

    I do miss the ferment of the times.

    ciao

  16. Gorki

    “Human grandeur,” said Pangloss, “is very dangerous, if we believe the testimonies of almost all philosophers…” (Voltaire)

    A TALE OF TWO LADIES

    The 2010 US election is remarkable for many reasons not the least of which is the fact that a daughter of Punjabi immigrant parents became the governor of a conservative Southern US state. Shorn of the electoral rhetoric and regardless of one’s political affiliations, it is still a heart warming story; a confirmation of the secular, liberal values on which America was founded.

    Born of Sikh parents, Nikki created history by becoming not just the first ethnic-American woman but also the first woman to occupy the governor’s mansion of South Carolina. She has broken other taboos as well; for Nikki was born Namrata Kaur Randhawa, of devout Sikh parents, Dr. Ajit and Raj Randhawa, who are from the holy city of Amritsar. She married a white Methodist Christian and now identifies herself today as a Christian, (although she attends both Sikh and Methodist services).

    Like other South Asian communities the Sikhs too are still a very conservative group in such matters. Even now and then one hears of occasional reports of young women not much different than Nikki, killed in ‘honor killings’ in India by parents (or relatives) for similar steps as her. Fortunately in America, Nikki’s conversion and marriage was by all accounts accepted by her parents. Since the heavens didn’t fall and the Earth didn’t part, now the Sikh community at large too has embraced her success.

    As a result of the above, the next time a Sikh girl marries outside her religion it would be a little bit more acceptable to her community even as the next time another South Asian gets elected in the US it will raise even less local eyebrows.

    This is how culture evolves; in small steps. The human race continues to move forward, one step at a time, recognizing our commonalities and shared ideas even as we overcome our minor outward differences.

    There is a flip side of it too; for such a progress takes place only when the conditions are just right. To understand this, consider the tragedy of another remarkable South Asian immigrant, Aafia Siddique.
    It is fascinating to note how much Nikki and Aafia have in common.

    Like Nikki, Aafia too is a 38 year old South Asian American woman, (she was born only a few weeks after Nikki).
    Her father was a British-trained neurosurgeon, and by all accounts Aafia is a highly motivated, intelligent and energetic woman who was trained in some of the best American Universities. Yet tragically her story turned out to be so much different than the former; convicted in a US court, she is now serving a harsh 86 year prison sentence.

    A partisan observer may be tempted to compare the life stories of the above two women and draw conclusions about their respective cultures, belief systems of faiths etc. but I believe any such comparison would be superficial at the best.

    As I said before, culture evolves in small steps; unfortunately it also sometimes regresses in small steps, in a random Brownian motion sort of a way.

    An unbiased observer (preferably someone with a little more human empathy and little less single minded fixation with the Arab-alien rhetoric) cannot help notice how little one has to tweak the past to write a completely different alternate history scenario.

    For example both these women come from parents who are culturally quite alike and were born in British North India. Now consider several small steps and events that set these two similar women on widely different tracks.

    Perhaps if in 1937 Nehru had not been prevailed upon by members of his party to reject MAJ’s offer of a coalition; if only another deal besides the CMP had been on the table, if only MAJ had lived another few years to give form to his August 1947 vision; or if only the US had not fanned the flames of religious holy war to beat the Soviets in Afghanistan etc.

    Alternatively, if the Sikh separatist struggle had succeeded with Amritsar as the conservative Khalistani ‘Mecca’; or else if the Khalistani terror groups too had come in conflict with the Western democracies it is quite conceivable that the stories of these two women would have been reversed or at least very different.

    Looking at it this way, one can’t help considering that Dr. Aafia Siddique is in one way a victim of the world that she was born in; that her fate is a tragedy not only for her but for the entire society that under different circumstances would have benefitted from the talents of this remarkable woman.

    Something to think about….

    I close my post dedicated to the good folks at the PTH, and the Insaniat and especially to the gentle but inimitable wordsmith Vajra who once playfully reminded us of the follies and coincidences of the human nature by quoting the following lines from Voltaire’s masterpiece:

    “There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put into the Inquisition; had you not traveled over America on foot; had you not run the Baron through the body; and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts.”

    “Excellently observed,” answered Candide; “but let us cultivate our garden.”

    Regards.

  17. Chote Miyan

    Gorki,
    An excellent post, but, if I may, with your permission, nudge in with a few corrections and observations:
    (1) Your inimitable wordsmith has chosen Cunegund over Cunégonde, the more classical name. It’s a minor slip but still a bit of a surprise from a language Nazi.

    (2) Your choice of Voltaire for your quotes is excellent, except that this particular choice (Candide) has nothing to do with the thrust of your argument. I would, however, choose Candide for the two very basic themes of that book:
    (a) The idea that “all is for the best”(even though it was lambasted by Voltaire); that is the way I see the events post ’37. I have come around to accept that no matter how tragic the whole event was, Partition was for good and for this reason, even if Nehru et al. take the whole blame, so be it. In fact, I am glad that they were decisive. Few could foresee then that the Sheiks of Arabia would be holding the purse that would fund the spread of an atavistic message throughout the Islamic world. In that sense, Jinnah’s task was always a herculean one and Nehru and co. were wise without realizing it. Although you and some others have romantic notions to the contrary, deep down we all know what the subcontinent would have looked like. Our aim, therefore, should be to chart a fresh course forward to realize the dreams of our founding fathers as three independent nations without excessive indulgence in “would haves” and “could haves”.
    (b) The second aim of Voltaire in Candide was to take a broad swipe at the dreamy and vain philosophers, in whose category I, or anyone for that matter, would not dare to put you in, but you have painted an excessively rosy and romantic picture of Nikki Haley’s election as somehow a bubbling expression of secular and liberal values of America. It almost sounds like you are clutching at the straws. Let’s not forget the racist campaign that she was subjected to by even the members of her own party. Of course, I would leave you to speculate if she would have been elected had she not been a Christian. I, for one, highly doubt it. In fact, the tea party would consider it a slur to have anything “liberal” attached against its name.

  18. Gorki

    CM

    Thanks for your comments.
    First a minor point, the Cunegund usage over Cunégonde was mine; again thanks for pointing it out though.😉

    Second, let me clarify a little bit.
    I am under no illusion that we in South Asia are a long way from 1937 now; the past is just that; past. We have to chart a more mature and less emotional national course now.

    I used the passage from Candide not to make any philosophical point but only as a metaphor for human cultural evolution which is not always purposeful or linear but more like particles in a Brownian motion; random events somewhat haphazard yet over time moving it does indeed move in one direction.

    Your point about the Republican Party’s allergy to the ‘L’ word is duly noted; and I completely agree with you that had she not been a Christian, she would have been unelectable.

    However, if one takes a long term view of history one can’t ignore the fact that over the years the racial and cultural center of gravity has shifted irreversibly towards the left.

    For example, consider issue of race today compared to 1948 when 35 democratic delegates from the Dixie South walked out of the Democratic National Convention protesting the adoption of Senator Hubert Humphrey’s (D-MN) proposal of civil rights planks calling for racial integration and the reversal of Jim Crow laws in the party platform.
    They then met in Birmingham, Ala., and nominated Gov. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president. They were endorsing segregation and the “racial integrity” of each race. Their campaign slogan was “Segregation Forever!”
    Their candidate Thurmond received more than one million votes in the 1948 election and won four states and 39 electoral votes.

    That was the Democratic Party; then!

    Today their Democratic equivalents are the Tea Partiers; rebels against the Party bosses.
    Yet even these Tea Party rebels; most right wing of the right wing Republican party endorsed a Brown woman for the top job in a erstwhile confederate state. Compared to 1948 this it undeniable progress of liberal values.

    If such a trajectory continues then who knows, some day a Brown Muslim woman perhaps even a later day Dr. Aafia Siddique may place her faith in the US political system and the system in her to elect her to office….

    Regards.

  19. amar

    Christian fascism, capitalist fascism and some white racism have entered into a long-standing coalition in the USA – mostly in and through the Republican party. It is not Ab Lincoln’s party.

    Unless the disease is named the cure becomes difficult or impossible.

    The opponents of and sufferers under this coalition have not got their senses together yet.