How Much do the Election Results Matter?

Happy November 2nd.  Evidently, today is election day.  Who knew?

If you’re here looking for elections forecasting, you must have mistyped “MonkeyCage,” “Pollster” or “FiveThirtyEight” in your search engine.  But to save you a few seconds, the smart money seems to be on a Republican takeover in the House while the Democrats maintain a small majority in the Senate.

But let’s move one step further.  So the Republicans take control of at least one branch of Congress.  So what?  Jordan already addressed the (low) likelihood that the recent health care bill is under any immediate danger.  We’ve all chimed in on the filibuster and the low likelihood of procedural reform.  So landmark reform doesn’t look to be in the cards (particularly with Obama’s veto pen at the ready).

Further, most of the Democrats’ legislative successes in the past two years (and despite the chatter, there are a lot of accomplishments) have not come from the large Democratic majority in the House; but by fashioning policy to get through the more conservative Senate.   That won’t change: for House Republicans to get anything through, it will still be winnowed by the Democrats in the Senate and Oval Office.

The replacement of Blue Dog Democrats with Republicans will certainly pull Congressional policy in a conservative direction, but it’s not going to go too far.  As The Economist’s Will Wilkinson argues, for most of us, the midterm elections will not have a dramatic effect.

Parties do what they can to reward supporters, but they can’t do too much. Many interest groups play both sides, exerting significant influence on policy regardless of the party in power. Military suppliers, big Wall Street interests, and the economic middle-class may do better or worse, but they always do pretty well.

Will we still chime in with elections analysis?  Yes, absolutely.  Do elections matter?  Yes, absolutely.  But let’s not ahead of ourselves.  Just like the country didn’t turn into a socialist utopia two years ago, it won’t suddenly turn into Ayn Randia tomorrow.  The country is just about to turn the policy thermometer down a few degrees.

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