« The Hammer Pounds One More Time | The RCP Blog Home Page | RFK, Jr.'s Other Motive »

California-50: 2006 Is No 1994

My initial reaction to the California-50 results is that they tell us very little and quite a bit at the same time. Yesterday, I wrote the number I was going to be focusing on was 45% and whether the Democrat Busby could get herself above the 44% - 46% ceiling that Gore/Nader in 2000 (46%), Kerry in 2004 (44%) and Busby/Young in April (45%) had butted up against in California-50. Today the results are in and the answer is.......NO.

With 99.6% of the precincts reporting Busby has 45.45%. Just two months ago in April, Busby and the lone other Democrat won 45.1%. Had Busby materially fallen below the 44%-46% area, that would have been a bad omen for Democratic expectations this fall. Conversely, had she been able to pull off the upset it would have been a major signal that GOP control of the House was in serious jeopardy. Instead, the results are in that middling area where it is neither good nor bad for either party.

Another way to look at the results, however, is that they actually reveal an enormous amount about what to expect this fall. And this is the message California-50 may be sending, don't expect big change in November.

Many political reporters and pundits are playing up an impending disaster for Congressional Republicans, but what California-50 foretells, if anything, is that the odds favor that this is going to be a rather boring mid-term. It's not 1994 or 1980 or 1974. It's just a boring mid-term where Democrats are likely to pickup a couple of Senate seats (Pennsylvania and Montana??) and a handful of House seats, something like 6-10.

Contrary to what you may have read recently about more Republican seats in play, this analysis has been the overall state of play for months. California-50 is just one more piece of evidence that minor Democratic pickups are most likely what to expect this fall, not major change.