Should the Senate end the filibuster?

As it happens, I like the filibuster.  I’m fine with its broad use against as many laws as the minority likes.  I like minorities being able to hold the majority back.

That said, I don’t like what the Republicans are doing with it against presidential nominees.  Yes, I understand that there’s a history and Democrats arguably started it, but whoever started it, the escalation has gotten ridiculous.  Within broad limits of reason, the president should be able to nominate people to hold office.

So I don’t have a firm opinion on the moral merits of the growing Democratic desire to get rid of the filibuster.  It’s a Senate procedure, and Senators are entitled to get rid of it.  I am, however, a little surprised that Democrats would be considering it now.

As I understand it, there is about a 0% chance that Democrats will retake the House in 2014, which means that Republicans already have quite an efficient veto over any legislation they might like to pass.  Meanwhile, there’s about a 70% chance that Republicans will control the White House, the House, and the Senate come January 2017.  Without the filibuster in place, Republicans could do a lot of damage to programs that Democrats like.  That seems an expensive risk to run in order to get some presidential nominees through, however mad you are about GOP obstructionism.

But if that happens, the Republicans could go nuclear themselves in 2017, you may say.  And that’s certainly a risk.  But in fact, I think they will be as skittish about it as the Democrats have so far proven.  Congressional control has proven stunningly evanescent since the Republicans first took back the House in 1994.  It’s no fun getting rid of the filibuster and then ending up back in the minority a year later.

And there’s a reason it’s called “the nuclear option”: once you’ve leveled the institution, the ground will be too radioactive to rebuild.  The first party that eliminates the filibuster gets a brief advantage, but then then they never again to shelter under the filibuster.

It’s a big gamble, anyway.  And not a gamble worth taking to get a few nominations through.  Or at least, that’s what I’d think.  Harry Reid appears to be of another opinion . . . and his opinion is the one that matters.

73 thoughts on “Should the Senate end the filibuster?

  1. “Meanwhile, there’s about a 70% chance that Republicans will control the White House, the House, and the Senate come January 2017.” ???? Lemme guess. You subscribe to Gallup… no probably your a Rasmussen girl.

    • More like unskewedpolls,com

      Amazing that Megan can just make stuff up out of thin air and get paid for it.

    • You may have noticed that this is on my personal website. Whether or not you agree with my analysis, I am not, in fact, getting paid for it.

    • Here is what Megan gets wrong, (1) the Dems aren’t doing away with the filibuster in total, only as it pertains to non-judicial nominations. In respect to judicial nominations and legislation, the rules would remain unchanged. How she ignores this point is beyond me. (2) She assumes that just if the Dems won’t change the rules now, the Repubs won’t do it later if and when they control the levers of power. That’s a huge, and I would say naive, assumption. (3) it would have been nice if she had supported her 70% assumption with some reference. Wishful thinking maybe?

    • Megan, I’ve never read any of your work before. But, to make such an outlandish prediction on the 2016 election three years out pegs your credibility as a political analyst at about zilch, at least in my opinion.

    • Judging by the number of committed Democrats who have shown up on just this one little thread, I am assuming some ;lefty site like Kos or ThinkProgress has linked to this post.

    • I’m not sure how this made it on Politicalwire, since you clearly pulled pretty much everything that you said out of your ass.

      First of all, anyone with even the slightest knowledge of political history would admit that there is essentially no way to know at the present time which party has an edge for the White House in 2016. Any number of things could happen between now and then. If you don’t believe me, then ask Hillary Clinton how happy she was to waltz to the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination like everyone assumed she would at this point in that cycle.

      Moreover, if we are going to assume things right now, maybe we should actually root our assumptions in reality. Exactly how does the GOP’s current popularity with Latino voters fit into your novel electoral projection model? How about their popularity with women? Or young people? Or African Americans? Or the LGBT community? Apparently there is a 70% chance that a specific demographic of white men are going to do what they were unable to do in 2008 or 2012 and elect a president by themselves? That sort of news shouldn’t be on a blog, it should be on the front page of every newspaper.

      Second, the suggestion that there is a 70% chance that they will control the Senate is equally foolish. Even if you choose to base that assumption on how many seats each party is defending, and the general political landscape in particular states, you conspicuously ignore recent history to conclude that the GOP will win seats they are supposed to win. Don’t take my word for it. Stop by Senator Castle of Delaware’s office and see what he thinks. Actually, you should conduct a poll while you’re at it. Ask Senator Angle of Nevada; Senator Norton or Buck of Colorado; Senator Akin of Missouri; Senator Mourdock of Indiana; Senator Rehberg of Montana; or Senator Berg of North Dakota. I’m sure they’d all have an opinion about your 70% chance of Republicans retaking the Senate.

      Third, and most importantly, the underlying premise of your blog post ignores reality. You seem to implicitly assume that if Democrats don’t get rid of the filibuster, then Republicans will naturally maintain it when they ride their 70%-chance-of-victory wave to power. That, of course, is a remarkable thing to think about a party that reacted to losing a healthcare vote by holding 37+ votes in the House to repeal it; or that reacted to losing a vote on Dodd-Frank by announcing that they won’t support any conceivable nominee to lead CFPB; or that filibustered a member of their own party when he was nominated to be Secretary of Defense, simply because he dared to defy them in the past and was nominated by Barack Obama. The filibuster will either die next week, or it will die when Republicans retake control of the Senate and White House.

    • What makes you so sure the Republicans will control the government in 2017? Wow, what a dramatic statement with absolutely no proof, facts or trends to back it up.

    • lol exactly. “As I understand it, there is about a 0% chance that Democrats will retake the House in 2014, which means that Republicans already have quite an efficient veto over any legislation they might like to pass. Meanwhile, there’s about a 70% chance that Republicans will control the White House, the House, and the Senate come January 2017.” I’m wondering if she just pulls this numbers from her butt. I’m curious about who exactly is the Republican presidential contender that supposedly has a 70% chance of winning….Perry, Paul, Rubio, Christie? Mcardle is Mc-delusional.

  2. If you DON’T think the very first act of a Republican-controled senate in 2017 would be to eliminate the filibuster completely, in all circumstances, you are underestimating their nihilism.

    BTW, the people telling you the Dems have a 0% chance of taking back the House and the the GOP has a 70% chance of taking the White House are the same people who assured us Romney was going to win.

    • Yeah, yeah, yeah, THIS time it’s the real thing. It’s been chattered about for a long time. One day, perhaps, it will be real, but what change in the rhetoric leads you to believe it’s imminent?

    • The Dems have a 0% chance of taking back the House absent some enormous cataclysm that can be put solely on the Republican doorstep. Short of that, gerrymandered districts means the Republicans retain the House.

  3. Without commenting on congress, the odds that the Republicans hold the white house in 2017 is closer to 30% than 70% which destroys your trifecta odds entirely. Lets be really generous and say that there is a 100% chance of Republicans holding the house (dubious odds but whatever), a 100% chance of them controlling the senate (I’d put them at about 45% max considering how rough 2016 will be for them in that chamber), and a 50% chance they win the Presidency. Those odds together mean there is only a 50% chance they control all three. Using more realistic but still Republican leaning odds of say 85%, 55%, and 55%, gives them a 25.7% chance of controlling all three. (Don’t bother pointing out that the odds aren’t truly independent of one another. I know. This is for simplicity’s sake). You’d need another epic subprime economic meltdown to move the numbers the point where they’re at 70% for all three.

  4. 70% chance of taking all three in 2016? Are you insane? Are you reading UnskewedPolls or something? If anything, I’d say the Democrats have a 70% chance of taking all three in 2016. The Republicans only shot of holding anything is the House, which I also expect they’ll hold next year.

  5. You should look into who’s up for re-election in 2016, then reassess your claim about the balance of power in 2016.

  6. How do you figure the GOP has a 70% chance of controlling the White House, the House, and the Senate in four years? The White House alone seems like a roughly 50/50 proposition, and of the 2017 senators who have been elected so far, the Democratic caucus has a 17-seat advantage, so that seems like an uphill battle, too.

    Granted, these aren’t independent probabilities, so a coin-toss white house and a coin-toss (at best) senate doesn’t mean a 25% chance of controlling both, but they’re not 100% aligned, either, so it seems like the probability of the GOP gaining control of both the White House and the Senate should be less than 50%.

    • I kind of have to agree, I don’t see the Republicans winning the Senate in 2016, unless a lot of Democrats retire, this is the USA, which really likes their incumbents. “Sure, I hate Congress, but my guy, well, he’s alright in my book!” I think the Republicans hold the house, and I don’t yet see a Republican that has a slam dunk advantage over Hillary.

  7. I really don’t understand where you get your probabilities from. “As I understand it” doesn’t really cut it as any sort of scientific basis. As I understand it, quantum physics COULD spell the end of the universe, but there’s a 0% chance of that happening.

    It’s not impossible for the Dems to take back the house, but it is highly IMPROBABLE. There’s a key difference. And a 70% chance of the Senate AND White House going to the GOP? I want to see some hard data on this.

  8. McMegan’s number seems reasonable, although I might go with 60%. Most of the commentators give the Republicans a better than even chance of retaking control of the Senate in 2014, so call that 60%, and close to a 100% chance of retaining the House. So we will enter the 2016 election with a 60% probability of Republicans controlling both houses of Congress. An incumbent who is ineligible for re-election is succeeded by a member of the opposite party about two-thirds of the time, and control of Congress does not usually flip to the incumbent president’s party in such elections.

    The hard part is figuring out correlation coefficients between all those probabilities. If they are all perfectly correlated, which is surely closer to the truth than assuming that they are perfectly independent, you end up with a 60% chance (the lowest of the numbers above) of the Republicans controlling all three branches after the 2016 election.

  9. There will be hard data in 3.5 years. Until then, saying “I want to see some hard data on this” is a ludicrous blog commenter tic.

    • True, but in fairness, I think he meant “hard data to support the idea that that’s even plausible”, rather than Science Proving It’s 70%.

      Say, polling data suggesting it.

      As much as I’d like to see it happen (if only to get back a non-lickspittle press, though I dread the clueless wailing and gnashing of teeth I’ll have to endure on Facebook from the Progressive “there are news sources other than ThinkProgress and UpWorthy?” friends), I’m not sure I buy a 70% chance of one-party control of both branches.

    • The problem is using a number like “70%” is not only silly. It’s bad math.

      If you ask ANY election statisticians out there, they’d tell you that the most likely scenario for 2016 is some kind of split between the 3. The likelihood for either party to win all 3 with any predictor model is probably in the single-digit. 70% is just a ridiculous and unrealistic number that’s not even in the realm of educated guess.

    • Of course I’m open to expert disagreement, but that can’t be right–assume it’s a random independent event with a 50% probability either way, and the chance would still be 12.5%. They’re not random, or independent, however, and in the case of the House, the probability that the GOP holds it is, by the agreement of everyone, in the very high double digits.

    • OK, then let’s have a disagreement about it. I say that there is a 90% chance that the Democrats will control the Presidency and an 80% chance that they will control the Presidency and the Senate.

      You have put your numbers out there, and I have put out mine. So, what makes YOUR numbers the more valid ones? Polls that back you up? Electoral college maps?

      If you are just making up a number, then say so. If you have proof, then provide it. That’s called “intellectual integrity”.

    • y81, far more Republicans are up for re-election to the Senate in 2016 so even if Republicans get the Senate next year the odds of them holding it short of a Republican wave election are slim at best.
      As to the House, there is an even chance if Hillary runs she herself will carry enough Democrats to give them the House, if only for 2 years, but by 2020 the House will likely flip Democratic due to demographic changes and almost certainly in 2022.
      And where is the electoral math that gives the Republicans the White House in 2016? Which swing states will they flip? The last two elections were a Democratic Rout. Which Republican can flip these states? Certainly not a southernor, and Romney was the former Gov. of Mass. and carried neither of his home states, the one he was born in nor the one he governed.

  10. The first party that eliminates the filibuster gets a brief advantage, but then then they never again to shelter under the filibuster.

    Well, unless they restore it while still in power. There’s a small chance that would restore it, even if under a weaker (“it can be removed and then restored”, thus making it easier to remove as desired) equilibrium.

    Odds of that ever happening, of course, round to zero.

    (Ed Walsh said “If you DON’T think the very first act of a Republican-controled senate in 2017 would be to eliminate the filibuster completely, in all circumstances, you are underestimating their nihilism.

    And I’m going to just assert that I’m underwhelmed with your evidence for that one, given that none was provided and not even the more rabid Republican boosters I follow are even hinting at the idea of trying that.

    Did they eliminate the filibuster the last time they controlled the Senate, House, and Executive (2003-2005 according to the charts)?

    Nope. Didn’t even talk about it, that I remember.

    They’re idiots (Stupid Party), not nihilists. But not the sort of idiots who’d remove the filibuster, at least not according to actual experience.)

  11. Lady, what universe are you living in?

    “A new Quinnipiac poll measures attitudes about the gridlock on Capitol Hill, and few — unsurprisingly — are happy with Congress’ performance. But the headline to us is that about half of GOP voters aren’t happy with congressional Republicans: 49% of them disapprove of the job congressional Republicans are doing (compared with 32% of Democrats who disapprove of congressional Democrats). And before some argue that GOP disapproval is from disappointed conservatives, consider this next number: An equal 49% of Republican respondents say that congressional GOP leaders are doing too little to work with Obama on big issues (versus just 22% of Democrats who say the president is doing too little). This suggests a disconnect between Republicans in Washington and Republicans across the country. Half of self-described GOP voters seem to be saying: “Why don’t we try to start governing?” By the way, not for nothing, a majority also say in this poll Obama needs to reach out more too. But the combined GOP numbers are potentially more telling.”

    With this kind of dissatisfaction within their own party, the seeds are present for many Republican voters to simply sit the mid-terms out. It’s not guaranteed, but the seeds are present, and the ground is getting more fertile.

    Also, on immigration reform–

    Fact: 50,000 Latino’s become eligible to vote every month. Every two years, that’s 1.2 million people–a population equivalent to a city the size of Dallas TX. This comes from the Cook political report.
    Fact: There are currently 197 million white people in the United States. This will grow to 199 million in 2024 and begin shrinking. That’s only growing 2 million in 12 years. This comes from the U.S. Census data.
    Fact: The House GOP won’t pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship–this is a threshold issue with Latinos and other minority voters.
    Fact: Mitt Romney captured 59% of the white vote in 2012.
    Fact: In 1984, Ronald Reagan only captured 63% of the white vote. That’s only a four percentage point difference. This should tell you that there are baked in biases in the White vote.
    Fact: In 1992, Whites comprised 88% of the electorate. This number has been shrinking by 2-3 percentage points every four year election cycle. In 2012 Whites were 72% of voters at the polls. This is a long term trend. In 2016, most likely, whites will be 69%-70% of the electorate.
    In 2016–Among the GOP figures out there, Marco Rubio polls the best. In a potential match up against Hillary Clinton, Hillary wins 66% of the Latino vote, Rubio 28%–leaving 6% undecided.

    Again, I ask, what universe are you living in?

    • sigivald, what do you mean Republicans didn’t talk about eliminating the filibuster when they controlled the Senate? Of course they did, look up the gang of 8 led by McCain to keep it, it is the language that Reid used then that Republicans are using against him now. Democrats agreed not to filibuster anymore nominees unless under extreme circumstances and so Republicans kept the filibuster. Now the Republicans wanted to eliminate it for judicial nominees and Democrats for executive ones (which, actually is more logical as judicial ones are far longer lasting) so you can’t make up your own history on this.
      And why wouldn’t Republicans eliminate the filibuster if they get all 3? It is their only way to get rid of the PPACA.

  12. 70%? WIth Marco Rubio or Rand Paul? ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! More like .70% chance of winning the White House! Ha-ha-ha!!!

  13. What Reid does, I think, depends on whether he actually has a majority for changing the rules. He may well be bluffing here. When this issue last came up in 2005, but with the parties on opposite sides, I think it was clear that the Republican leadership didn’t even have the votes to go nuclear, and I would be surprised if there aren’t at least 10 Democrats in the Senate who don’t have a longer range and realistic view of party power arrangements.

    The comments above are just hilarious to me. That the Republicans will control the Senate, House, and White House at some point in the future, and at the same time is almost 100%.

    • That the Republicans will control the Senate, House, and White House at some point in the future, and at the same time is almost 100%.
      Some point is meaningless. What is to say the Republicans that control all 3 even vaguely resemble the Republican party of today? Being that America is fast becoming a minority majority nation the Republicans will have to appeal to minorities at some point, doing so would force them to radically change their approach to public policy. I am perfectly fine with this (and I am not saying to be another Democratic party, but not this present day monstrosity) as America needs two strong parties.

  14. Here’s what I see:
    1) Democrats are staking a significant portion of their political future on the War on Women theme, especially in insisting on no real limitations on abortion at any point of the pregnancy. Right now, a supermajority of Americans favor a hard limit on abortion at 20 weeks. If Democrats don’t change their stance, this is an issue Republicans can exploit.
    2) This administration is rife with scandals of misusing govt power for partisan purposes. President Obama’s personal popularity is preventing these stories from gaining much traction so far. But once he leaves office, there will be much less reason for news organizations to continue to embargo the scandals. If the scandals can’t stick to Obama, they will stick to Democrats.
    3) Immigration “reform” would be a huge win for Democrat political fortunes. But there are indications that a majority of votes hate the Senate bill. If Democrats continue to stake a significant portion of their platform on immigration reform, they will give the GOP an issue to exploit to shift non-Hispanic votes (especially since it will significantly harm black employment opportunities)
    4) Democrats pushed hard on gun control. Voters pushed back even harder. The popularity of gun control is become more selective at an astonishing rate. That’s just another issue the GOP can exploit
    5) Obamacare (PPACA) is clearly going to crash and burn, and make people’s lives much worse. It has already damaged employment, and millions are losing their insurance or being forced to pay significantly more for the same coverage. They know Democrats are at fault, and the best way to get back to the health coverage situation they preferred is to put Republicans in office.
    6) Energy prices are increasing despite an oil/gas boom. That is 100% the fault of Democrats. It hasn’t been hammered much yet, but will be emphasized in 2016.
    7) The economy sucks. This is the worst recovery ever by a wide margin, but wasn’t anywhere the historically worst downturn. Obama largely avoided the consequences of his incompetent response to the recession by blaming the recession on Bush (despite Bush’s only fault being not veto-ing the policies President Obama voted for as a Senator…I guess LIV are stupid), but the longer the recovery stagnates, the less blame he can put on Bush. If the economy is still lousy in 2016, all the blame that had been put on Bush and the GOP will likely rebound onto the Democrats for Stimulus, QE2 and QE3, the Sequester, green energy boondoggles, cronies like Corzine avoiding jail time despite losing billions of citizens’ investment funds, bad energy policy, expanding welfare and other social nets, raising taxes, and Obamacare all combining to keep the economy in the gutter.

    Plus, Unskewed Polls was less accurate than Silver in the final result because Obama used datamining to campaign more effectively than ever before in history. That means that Unskewed Polls could be 100% correct and still have it not translate into enough votes at the right locations to get the victory.
    I’ve seen some analysis that said that just 100k votes in the right locations would have given Romney the victory. When you consider how absentee voter facilitates voter fraud, and when you consider how the IRS suppressed the political activity of conservatives…well, maybe some people are too heavily invested in their worldview to consider those issues.

    • “The price of oil is… is attributed to two oil men in the White House and their protectors in the United States Senate,” Pelosi said in 2008.

      Another lie told by Democrats yet the media will never hold them accountable.

    • On your first point, Obama got 55% of women’s votes in 2012. If the 2016 Democratic nominee is HRC, I’d expect that to go up, not down.
      Second point–none of these scandals are playing outside the GOP echo chamber anymore. The IRS non-scandal, scandal got way too muddy. I’ve come to the conclusion that Occupy, the Israeli lobby, the Tea Party–none of them should be getting a public subsidies in the form of tax exemption. If we’re serious about dealing with the debt, there’s a good place to begin. Get rid of these people’s public subsidies.
      Third point–see above for actual data on immigration reform. If the GOP house doesn’t pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, they have signed their own tombstones. I agree with David Brooks and Steve Schmidt on this one. The GOP are on the verge of baking in a 70-30 bias with Latino voters going forward, and that will last at least a generation. The census data is real. Whites will be a minority in the country in 2050, and there is a 58-42 baked in bias in the White electorate with +-5% at the margins in any given election year. White America is gone. Pluralistic America is here to stay, forever. The GOP has serious choices to make about the future of the party.
      Forth point–every poll I’ve seen has shown overwhelming support for universal background checks. I don’t confuse the will of the NRA with the will of the American people. Look for Bloomberg’s group to go on the attack come 2014 against vulnerable house and Senate Republicans. He’s got the money, the will to do it, and a track record of winning.
      Fifth point–arguing whether or not Obama-care is working or hurting us is like arguing media bias and which way it tilts. For every article with hard data showing its working, there are those who show its not. My guess is that it will be slow walked out, where things are pretty sure to work. Parts will be buggy, as any big system is, giving the right fodder to complain. But it won’t get fixed until the 2020’s, after redistricting takes effect. But it’s here to stay. Period. We’d better get used to it.
      Sixth point–energy prices are going up? My home electric bills are coming down. Gas prices fluctuate, but yes, those are going up–and they will probably will continue to do so as emerging markets demand more oil. The world oil market is driven by demand.
      Seventh point–There’s nothing to say here, except that I completely disagree with your conclusion. Obama was able to blame Bush for the worst economic downturn since the great depression, because Bush and the GOP were largely responsible for the policies that let that happen. If HRC runs in 2016, she will probably win and remain in the White House until 2024, when the electorate is less than it is now.

    • wow, chock full of assertions without any data to go along with it I see. I love the whole the PPACA is clearly going to crash and burn seeing that at present many features already exist and are wildly popular (like keeping kids on until 26, no more recission, lifetime caps, denial of care due to pre-existing conditions, etc.) If your one hope is the delay of the employer mandates, bear in mind most Democrats were opposed to that as the whole point of the exchanges is to migrate workers from the distortion in the market due to employer provided insurance to one in which the individual chooses his insurance provider, not his employer.
      as to 1: this has little to do with the 20 week provision and everything to do with closing clinics and making abortions impossible at any time. Honestly, requiring admitting credentials to a hospital just to administer a pill? Making ridiculous regulations that plastic surgeons don’t need to have but abortion providers do? You really think you can lie your way and say it has to do with 20 weeks?
      2. The scandals are nothing burgers. If Bush screwing up Iraq didn’t do him in in 2004 what makes you think Benghazi will do Hillary in in 2016. As to the rest, well the IRS is a pretty much defacto agency with only 2 political appointees both of whom were Bush ones so that scandal won’t touch Democrats. And the NSA is supported by Republicans more than Democrats.
      3. Republicans can win 100% of the white vote in Alabama. No one cares. There are few states where significant numbers of blacks and hispanics live together and 2 of them are 100% blue (California and NY). Meanwhile New Mexico is now solidly blue as is Nevada. The EC is simply not there. Getting more whites in red states like West Virginia is meaningless.
      4. Now that was pure fantasy. 90% of Americans including a majority of the NRA support background checks.
      5. I mentioned above.
      6. um…yeah, energy prices are the fault of Democrats and not the fault of supply and demand with India and China bidding up demand. It is called the free market. the pipeline that the Canadians want to build is for shipments to Asia, not US consumption.
      7. false. The great depression recovery was a disaster far greater. And as this recession was similar to that one (a financial crisis) it has actually been pretty good. The stock market more than doubled from the Bush low. There has been continuous job growth, the deficit has shrunk at the fastest rate EVER, with record number of retirees of babyboomers we will likely see the unemployment rate plummet come 2015 and 2016 (yes, this means difficulty later for social security and medicare but not on Obama’s watch), and the trend will be very favorable for Hillary.
      Remember under Bush not a SINGLE private sector job was added after 8 years. There were 123 million in 2001 and 123 million at the end of his term. The only job growth was public sector, under Obama, of course, public sector has shrunk by 700,000 but when this reverses as it will Democrats will benefit immensely.

      “I’ve seen some analysis that said that just 100k votes in the right locations would have given Romney the victory.”
      And this, of course, is absolute baloney. Sorry. It was 429,527 votes in 4 states: Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and NH.
      But you can’t just divide that by 4. Obama won by 5.5% in NH which is a significant amount. Romney was Governor of Mass. and has a home in NH and he still couldn’t win it.

    • Nathan, no point trying to use facts to alter their conclusion
      that they have attained and will always retain Unlimited Power;
      They are blinded by Hubris, and Nemesis is already stooping
      on them, claws and fangs bared.

    • Please, please tell me that a significant number of Republicans have hired you to run their campaigns for 2014. The Democrats couldn’t ask for a more in-the-tank, “unskewed,” Fox News-mainlining opponent of reality to guide the Republicans to a glorious repeat of 2012.

  15. There is a lot of high dudgeon in these comments, but only Andrew put forth some basis for his disbelief of Megan’s theory.

    If you’re so sure she’s full of it, then let’s hear something of value.

    • I agree that Johnson, Kirk, Toomey, and Ayotte are vulnerable, but Democrats are more vulnerable in 2014, and if you assume GOP takes White House in 2016, I think they pull out the Senate too.

    • Just Johnson, Kirk, Toomey, and Ayotte are ‘vulnerable?’ Kirk’s already had a 40% re-elect number in polling, in a very blue state, Johnson hasn’t made any moves toward the middle he’d need to have a shot, and Toomey’s re-elect hasn’t topped 42%. Then you have Rubio (whose early polling hasn’t exceeded 41% in a head-to-head) and Portman who apparently aren’t vulnerable, in some Rove-imagined world where Republicans have a 70% chance of taking the White House. Then you have Richard Burr in North Carolina, with a 37% approval rating, Roy Blunt in Missouri with a net -9% rating, and Grassley in Iowa undeclared on whether he’s going to run for re-election. And on the flip side, there’s… what, an outside shot at Nevada or praying for a Hail Mary somewhere else?
      Assuming a Republican wins the White House is already a silly proposition, of course. Every state from Pennsylvania to the north and east hasn’t given a Republican a majority of the presidential vote in nearly 30 years by 2016 (New Hampshire in 2000 having given a majority of votes to the Democratic and Green parties combined). Same for the entire west coast, Hawaii, and the northern great lakes region. Add in New Mexico (which flipped in 2004 like Indiana flipped in 2008, a fluke happening), Nevada and Colorado (both of which rapidly and strongly went blue as demographic shifts continued) and Democrats are already over the 270-electoral vote mark, without considering Virginia, Ohio, NC, or Florida. Any Republican who wants to win the White House has to run the table on everything else, plus pick off at least one of these states, just to win the barest possible majority. Is it possible? Sure. 70%? That’s just laughable.

  16. Yikes. Is this satire or real? (I’m not familiar with the writer.) This is about 70% not-credible, so I’m unsure what to make of it.

    The election predictions are … just weird (politically, as well as probabilistically).

    There’s a pretty good reason the GOP didn’t have to “go nuclear” in years past: the current GOP has a strict, purposeful policy of filibustering damn near everyone and everything; that approach never existed before, so there was no reason to have to deal with it.

    There’s no guaranty the GOP would “go nuclear” either way if it took the Senate. But if you look at the GOP’s scorched earth legislative tactics these days, wouldn’t you sort of expect it? (Again, that’s assuming the Dems didn’t let themselves get rolled as they did under Bush, thereby failing to provide the GOP with any incentive to do so.)

    Just a weird article. The filibuster has had its advantages over time, but not any near enough to make up for the final, systemic legislative catastrophe it’s responsible for … good riddance.

  17. I’m obviously not the first to point out that this article is an obvious red herring. No one is trying to get rid of the filibuster.

    Making the senate work so that judges can be appointed at the federal level (Supremes candidates are already de-facto not getting filibustered) and cabinet members appointed just makes the country better.

    In addition to the fact that no one is talking about getting rid of the talking filibuster, the dems aren’t even talking about getting rid of the “silent” filibuster on leglislation.

    Care to suggest a new analysis that makes any sense at all?

  18. What I find interesting is the lack of discussion of a coattails-effect if Hillary runs on the Democratic ticket. The appeal of Hillary is obviously similar in many effects to the Obama demographics, but also has a slight degree of nuance. Hillary will likely outperform Obama’s ratings in Appalachia (TN, KY, WV) and in states bordering the “lower” Mississippi River (AR, LA, MO), but may not have the same pull in the research centers (NC, IL, CO). I’m not saying there’s enough of a difference to change the electoral vote outcome in any of these mentioned states, but it does illustrate that there could be more of a downballot impact to races we may not be examining in the Senate and House.

    For example, while I think John Boozman has kept his nose relatively clean, having Hillary on the top of a Democratic ticket should make any sitting Republican from Arkansas feel a little more nervous than having President Obama (probably to the tune of 3% points). If the Dems recruit a strong challenger, that race winds up on the radar.

    In Florida, Rubio may actually damage his own senatorial chances by running a widely-televised GOP primary campaign (if he does not end up becoming the GOP nominee). Do keep in mind that Rubio initially won a 3-way contest when he was originally elected to the Senate in 2010.

    2010 is also the “key” behind the Senate elections in 2016. This will be a VERY different electorate, presumably. High turnout elections favor Democrats and this could wind up being a “fight for the soul of the country”-style election as it would appear to be the last decent chance for the GOP to win with their existing voting bloc without being forced to make fundamental changes or hope that the Democratic candidate is seriously flawed in an unconventional way. I honestly believe that you set the 2010 elections as a baseline and subtract 9 points from every incumbent-GOP candidate to reflect the differences in 2016.

    Excluding Rubio because of the 3-way race in 2010, Boozman drops to 49.0%, Isakson to 49.1%, Kirk to 39.2%, Coats to 47.4%, Paul to 46.8% (which is very interesting if the Dems get Beshear to run against him and Hillary is at the top of the ticket), Vitter to 47.8%, Blunt to 45.3%, Burr to 46.0%, Portman to 48.3%, Toomey to 42.0%, and Johnson to 42.9%.

    I consider a “floor” of 47.5% to essentially assure re-election (barring any unforeseen scandals, etc.), so Boozman, Isakson, Vitter, and Portman all start out in GOP-territory. However, Rubio, Kirk, Coats, Paul, Blunt, Burr, Toomey, and Johnson are all within Democratic striking distance. Since Dems have been relatively strong at choosing “top-tier” candidates in recent election cycles, I would assume 6 out of the 8 get “strong opponents”. Of those, 4 probably get pulled over the finish line with top-of-the-ticket support.

    Considering I expect some range between 49-51 Dem/GOP splits after the 2014 Senate elections (significant in terms of who controls the Senate, for sure…but still only a 2-seat range in total margin). A conservative estimate of 4 additional Democratic seats after 2016’s Senatorial elections essentially guarantees the Dems will hold the Senate regardless of the outcomes in the House or the Presidential race.

  19. Larry
    Question #1) Who the hell is Megan McArdle? #2) Where did you get that 70% number? I’ve not heard ANYONE else make such a prediction. And there is next to ZERO chance that the GOP will take the White House in ’16, especially if HRC runs. That 70% figure must have come straight out of your ass.

  20. Statements like this drive me crazy: “Within broad limits of reason, the president should be able to nominate people to hold office.”

    First of all, which offices? Traditional executive departments like Treasury, State or Justice? What about independent agencies such as EPA, FCC or NRLB which by law exercise legislative and not executive power? Or Article III judges, who are a completely independent and co-equal branch of government with life tenure? Of course, never mind that the White House staff – including so-called “czars” – have never been subject to Senate confirmation.

    And what are the “broad limits of reason?” Does that mean anyone without a criminal record? Or anyone who appears to be “qualified” to hold the office? By whose standards? These immensely powerful posts are not simply high-powered civil service placements (or maybe they are… a few more Lois Lerners and the notion of a politically accountable government will be totally lost).

    It is thinking like this that reveals Megan McArdle’s progressive inclinations. In A Constitution in Full: Modern Political Tendencies and the American Departure, Richard Reinsch traces the beginnings of the Progressive Movement to the Civil War:

    Progressivism’s powerful emergence in the closing decades of the late nineteenth century challenged federalism and separation of powers as the essence of American constitutionalism. The abstract humanitarian ideal underlying progressivism is its commitment to the evolutionary ascent of human consciousness through elimination of the perceived hyper-competitive self-interested striving that dominates civil society and republican government within the classical liberal framework. Achieving a more wholesome development of man has entailed a firm national superintendence of the supposed atavistic tendencies in civil society and government with an eye towards their gradual elimination. Eliminating the perceived negative externalities of a largely free and competitive social, political, and economic order has meant creating new fields of energy in government that reform the national spirit, moving citizens towards a grander, more consequential national telos.

    Of course government – and life – would be wonderful if science and reason could inform every important decision and politics were relegated to issues of taste and refinement. But that’s neither the reality of the human existence nor the governing framework under which the United States operates. This well-intended desire to reduce the role of politics only serves to increase polarization. People wonder why public discourse has become so terribly nasty – it’s because opposing views are now objectively wrong rather than simply different.

    The Founders understood that politics was a better conflict resolution mechanism than war. The Progressives tried to replace politics with science and administration. Wishing that “Within broad limits of reason, the president should be able to nominate people to hold office” is nothing more or less than a naïve longing for that core Progressive goal.

    • The Founders would have been appalled by the existence of parties, doubly appalled by the existence of the filibuster, and enraged to arms by the use of a filibuster in pursuit of parisan aims.

      The founders wrote in the Constitution when a supermajority vote of a House of Congress was required. The Senate (already an extremely anti-democratic instituion) becomes even more so when the filibuster is taken into account.

      The recent wailing over the “end of the Senate” by eliminating the filibuster for executive-branch appointees is made obvious by the fact that the previous rules for the filibuster required 66 votes. Did the change to 60 votes “end the Senate”? This absurd question answers itself. The purpose of the filibuster is to permit unlimited debate, in the “greatest deliberative body,” not to give a small minority control over the nation’s politics.

      Obviously, if representatives of a small minority of the population are able to shut down entire executive departments, this has little to do with the “role of politics.” It simply enshrines the prerogatives of the existing beneficiaries of political power (which, oddly enough, nearly perfectly equate with economic power).

    • KK, political parties began not only during the lifetimes of the founders, but they were actively involved in founding them. Please, Adams was a Federalist, and Jefferson and Madison founded the Democratic-Republican Party.

      Also, filibusters existed in the Roman Senate, so they weren’t exactly unknown to the founders. The first filibuster in the US was in 1837, though the rules allowing them existed since the very beginning.

    • “The Founders understood that politics was a better conflict resolution mechanism than war. The Progressives tried to replace politics with science and administration. Wishing that “Within broad limits of reason, the president should be able to nominate people to hold office” is nothing more or less than a naïve longing for that core Progressive goal.”

      I think the Founders would have viewed “winning elections” as a core part of politics as a conflict resolution mechanism. But winning elections doesn’t mean much if the winners have no power to effect their agenda, and nominating people to hold executive branch positions is a pretty basic part of that power.

  21. Yes, the Senate should end the filibuster. Winning elections in a democracy should mean something, and the Republicans have turned the filibuster into a way of stopping the majority from governing.

    But I don’t think Reid wants to pull the trigger. I suspect this is about judicial nominations, and in particular the three to the DC Circuit. I suspect this is an attempt to pressure the Republicans into not filibustering those, and perhaps also not filibustering any SCOTUS nomination Obama might get to make.

    Leaving the NLRB without a quorum would not be a good thing, but (as a labor guy) I don’t see it as a total loss either. I wish labor was better at thinking of all the things they could do without the NLRB getting in the way. My perception, as a long-time member of the labor movement, is that unions are much more cautious about pushing the envelope of labor law than are most managements; the idea of losing a case at the NLRB terrifies most labor lawyers in a way it doesn’t seem to scare managements. Perhaps not having a functioning NLRB would force labor to remember how it managed to be successful, lo those many years ago.

  22. If you assume the GOP takes the White House…
    But not a very safe assumption. The GOP isn’t currently helping itself set up for a national election.
    So at best, without knowing candidates, at this early date, you can give GOP 50% shot at White House. Even with 95% chance of keeping the House… Even if a 75% shot of taking the Senate… That’s only a 35% shot of taking all 3.

  23. Why we should at LEAST get rid of the Filibuster, if not get rid of the Senate:
    40 senators can stop most everything in our senate these days, which they do constantly.
    40 senators come from 20 states.
    If you add up the population of the 20 least populous states, it comes up to 10.17% of the total population. ( 12 states each have LESS than ONE HALF OF ONE percent!)
    But remember, a senator only needs to get 50.000001 % of the vote to get elected! So it would require only half of those 10.17% (5.09%) of the total voters in this country to stop our Government from functioning. I do realize that this is a bit artificial – as the small states are not that politically aligned- but the Filibuster is magnifying the already un democratic nature of the senate. Get rid of it.

  24. “That said, I don’t like what the Republicans are doing with it against presidential nominees. Yes, I understand that there’s a history and Democrats arguably started it, but whoever started it, the escalation has gotten ridiculous. Within broad limits of reason, the president should be able to nominate people to hold office.”

    “Arguably?” There’s no “arguably” about it. The Democrats in the Senate decided that the fact that they’d lost their majority “should” mean they had also lost the power the exercised as the majority, and started using the filibuster as it had never been used before. Now they’re paying for it. If the Democrats abstain from filibustering the next time there’s a Republican president, THEN the Republicans will owe them the return courtesy. Until then, the Republicans OWE the Democrats exactly what they’ve been giving them: complete obstruction using the tool the Democrats created and used first.

    And Barack Obama, who as a Senator voted to filibuster Justice Alito, is the LAST person in the world to have any justification to complain about his nominees getting filibustered.

  25. Here’s some late breaking news that might derail Reid’s plans:

    Brian Schweitzer was pretty much the Democrat’s only chance of holding Baucus’s seat. Even the Democrats are going to have a hard time convincing themselves that they’re going to be in the majority after next year’s election.

    The Republicans are now heavy favorites to take Montana, South Dakota, North Carolina, Arkansas. They’re favorites in LA. That’s 50 – 50.
    Alaska, Iowa, Michigan, Colorado (there won’t be any pro-gun voters voting for any Democrats next year there), New Hampshire, and Virgina are all in the vulnerable column. V. essentially no Republican Senate seats up for grabs.

    The question is simple: will > 90% of Senate Democrats kamikaze the rest of their careers in the Senate for < 18 months w/o a filibuster on nominations? I guess we'll see next week. But if InTrade were still running, the numbers would have tanked ofter Schweitzer's announcement.

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