« Election Day thoughts on impermanent majorities | Main | Post-Election Day Twitter roundup »

November 03, 2010


I agree that the 2010 election doesn't necessarily signal a realignment, and I agree that it's not possible to isolate opposition to the Democrats' health care legislation as the reason for the variance between the projected outcome and the actual outcome. However, that inquiry is a step in the right direction, because even though it may not be possible to isolate one policy difference or another as the reason for the variance, it stands to reason that voter objections to Administration policies accounted for a large part of the variance.

And of course that's just what we should hope would happen. If in a democratic society people are opposed to legislation that's enacted, it would be very disappointing if the offending legislators escaped any consequences. That's exactly why we have elections.

So most of the Democratic losses in the House were probably the result of structural factors and relatively little of the losses beyond the structural factor projections can be attributed to Obama's failure to communicate. (Brendan's convinced me on both points.) That leaves disagreements over policy as the logical major factor in the variance--except for that relatively small number who voted Republican this year because they think Obama is a Keynesian.

Rob, thank you for posting that video. It made my day.

You say, "Democrats who supported health care reform did indeed seem to perform worse in the districts that supported McCain," using a crude "win rate." Wouldn't a better analysis be by percentage of the vote received vs expected percentage of the vote based on past history of their district and national trends? You treat someone losing with 49% the same as someone losing with with 30% of the vote, which doesn't make sense.

Further, you fail to say anything about your own finding that in districts where Obama won 50-60% of the vote, Democrats who voted for HCR had a higher win rate. Perhaps HCR played a role there in that higher win rate, motivating base Democratic voters. Many of these districts would also be considered competitive districts.

Further, I believe you should wait on these analyses until all the votes have been counted and winners declared. Of the remaining uncalled races, most are leaning to the Democrat. Further, the West Coast was much more favorable to Democrats even in competitive districts, so your analysis is missing something if it does not have good data from those states where the vote counting was not as progressed.

Jim -- see my new post which uses vote totals rather than win rate here: http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2010/11/beware-context-free-election-analysis.html

The comments to this entry are closed.