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No country for incumbents


The results of last night's primary and special elections largely speak to the limits of political punditry. The country is turning against incumbents from both political parties, as you saw with Rand Paul in Kentucky and Bill Halter in Arkansas and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, except when it isn't, as you saw when Rep. Jack Murtha's aide Mark Critz blew past expectations to easily win his deceased boss's congressional seat.

You could build out a theory that says voters prefer candidates who seem able to make American politics work in their favor. So Murtha's aide, who is associated with Murtha's legendary delivery of pork, can win office based on his connection to a type of transactional, unseemly politics that voters dislike in the abstract but rely on in many specific cases. Candidates who seemed out to make Washington work in their interests, by contrast, didn't do very well (see Arlen Specter), and nor did candidates who were tightly associated with the Washington leadership of either major political party (see Blanche Lincoln and the guy Mitch McConnell backed).

So maybe you take this to say that news of voter antipathy to big government is overstated. Instead, voters want government that works for them (Critz, Halter), or at least not for special interests and politicians (Paul, Specter). Or maybe you just say that voters hate incumbents right now and Critz's district was an outlier. Or maybe you say that this is simply too few data points to support any definitive claims, though that has worrying implications for political journalism.

One thing you might want to say is that you're seeing the maturation of alternative campaign-funding models: Rand Paul stood on the shoulders of the Ron Paul crowd, and Bill Halter and Joe Sestak both relied heavily on the liberal netroots. But, again, there are relatively few data points at work here, and so the question of whether these alternative-funding models can prove similarly potent in a year with a lot of races rather than a moment with a small number of primaries remains uncertain. A general election might spread the available money too thin for it to have a decisive impact.

Photo credit: Melina Mara-The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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"... except when it isn't, as you saw when Rep. Jack Murtha's aide Mark Critz blew past expectations to easily win his deceased boss's congressional seat."

Murtha was the incumbent there, Ez. He's dead.

I don't think people are vindictive, holding responsible another man for the sins/votes of his father/boss. Critz has a clean voting record himself -- if he doesn't keep it that way, I suspect the Democrats there will let him go.

It's not irrational these voting patterns. It's not blind hatred that's going to make Dem constituents like Murtha's got Red all of a sudden. It's like in the Mafia -- you don't let the stain spread. It's a one-issue purge, I think: how did you vote on the very unpopular healthcare laws?

Up, you're out. And these incumbents surely can't say they weren't warned (they'd be voted out if they sided with the President over the constituents.)

Think about it for a minute or two before you continuing twisting facts and opining?

Posted by: Mary42 | May 19, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"as you saw when Rep. Jack Murtha's aide Mark Critz blew past expectations to easily win his deceased boss's congressional seat."

What Mary said (on incumbents, not with the ill-considered accusations about fact twisting). That's not an example of pro-incumbency. Perhaps Murtha would have won, but I'm pretty sure Mark Critz wasn't running as the establishment party incumbent.

Regarding Specter's loss, I think it was long overdue. A fun Specter anecdote:

"Or maybe you just say that voters hate incumbents right now and Critz's district was an outlier."

Could you at least acknowledge that Critz wasn't technically an incumbent? I mean, the district might be an outlier--as even in the most anti-incumbent mood ever, you would expect that there would not be 100% churn. But there's also the fact that the incumbent had passed away, and Critz was running in a new candidate in an open race, not the incumbent.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The American people are tired of the reckless spending by the current Administration and Congress. The American people are tired of legislation they do not want being rammed into law by the current Administration and Congress. The American people are tired of the dirty, secret backroom deals used by the current Administration and Congress to ram bills into law the American people do not want.

It is time to take our government back...REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER…VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | May 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I think it does tell us that individual endorsements are overrated, at least at this level of politics.

Obama and Rendell couldn't save Specter -- Pennsylvania Democrats just didn't want their nominee to be a guy who had been a Republican for 40 years. And McConnell couldn't save Trey Grayson in his home state of Kentucky -- Kentucky Republicans wanted an ornery, conservative outsider who wasn't afraid to take on the establishment.

Endorsements are good for winning political news cycles, because pundits still think they're important for some reason. They can be good for attracting crowds to rallies, and maybe for sparking some national fundraising. But with the information available to people today, endorsements just really don't pack much of a punch at the voting booth.

Now, for local judge and council races, where people don't even know who the candidates are other than the names on the signs by the side of the road? Sure endorsements matter there...

Posted by: vvf2 | May 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

AngryMobVoter: Then why did a blue collar, white, conservative trending district in Pennsylvania that voted for John McCain backtrack and support a Democrat this year? Republicans spent millions trying to nationalize the PA-12 race talking about Pelosi and Congress and the "Obama agenda" and liberals and secret deals and all the stuff you mention, and they lost more soundly than anyone expected.

Posted by: vvf2 | May 19, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"What Mary said ... not with the ill-considered accusations about fact twisting..."

Hello? Where I come from, this is a twisted fact in service of the author's point.

TF = "The country is turning against incumbents ... except when it isn't, as you saw when Rep. Jack Murtha's aide Mark Critz blew past expectations.."

Nope. Not a true fact. A twisted fact.

In service of this point the author is trying, with twisted facts, to spin:

" So maybe you take this to say that news of voter antipathy to big government is overstated. ... Or maybe you just say that voters hate incumbents right now and Critz's district was an outlier."

Not an outlier. Had Murtha as the incumbent been running, he'd a been defeated too.

Posted by: Mary42 | May 19, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"A general election might spread the available money too thin for it to have a decisive impact." Or this primary could be the deep breath before corporations take the plunge in the general election to ensure they are as decisive as possible. Lots of money out there for when it will do the most good, especially when it comes to impacting pending legislation like financial reform, climate change, further heath reform, etc.

Posted by: Jaycal | May 19, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Or just maybe, in a federal republic of 50 states, 435 House districts, and untold local jurisdictions, different elections turn on different factors.

The real lesson here, as always, is that the media's asinine need to reduce everything to a simple, overarching narrative is pointless and misleading.

Posted by: simpleton1 | May 19, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Although Rand Paul is getting the headlines in Kentucky, the real story there was how much lower the turnout was on the Republican side than on the Democratic side of the primary. Bunning's Kentucky Senate seat may turn out to be in play for the Dems, and it is now also clear that in Pennsylvania Toomey will have a much tougher opponent in Admiral Sestak than he would have had running against the 80 year old party-changing Specter.

The Republicans had very high expectations for PA 12, but came up empty in yet another special election. Scott Brown's victory appears more the exceptional outcome of Martha Coakley's mis-steps than of any anti-Democratic national wave.

Last night was a reminder that "all politics is local" and that November may not be as bruising for Democrats as many Republicans and Tea Partiers have hoped and predicted. We can't know how the news between now and the Fall will impact voter sentiment, but Democrats are going to be feeling cheerful today about last night's outcome.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there's any doubt that Critz represented Murtha, just as I don't think that there's any doubt that Rand Paul's victory represented a blow to Mitch McConnell and the reputation of the incumbent Republican Party.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | May 19, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"Had Murtha as the incumbent been running, he'd a been defeated too." -- Mary42

I have to take issue with this one. As a former resident of southwestern PA, I know about how Murtha was a legend in the area.

Some history:
In 1980 (a year which pundits are saying was the last year which was as "anti-incumbent" and "anti-Washington"), Murtha won by 20 points. Then, the Republicans who controlled the state legislature specifically redrew the state's districts to knock out Murtha in 1982, following Murtha's connection to ABSCAM scandal. They failed. In 1994, the year of the "Republican Revolution", he won by 20 points. In 2002, the GOP in the state legislature tried to redraw the district again to beat Murtha (in a pretty bad year for Democrats). Murtha won again, against all odds. And in 2008, when his district voted for John McCain for President, he was up against a nationally-funded military veteran, and he was in the news constantly for corruption scandals and essentially calling his constituents a bunch of racist rednecks, Murtha won by a mere 16 points. Like it or not, Jack Murtha had that seat for life -- proof positive people love a hard worker who brings home the "pork barrel spending", as long as it's in their district and not the other 434.

Posted by: vvf2 | May 19, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think that there's any doubt that Rand Paul's victory represented a blow to Mitch McConnell and the reputation of the incumbent Republican Party."

I agree with Ezra. Conservatives need to bear in mind that even if Rand Paul wins in November, it will be a net gain for progressives in the Senate when compared to what they have now with Bunning.

While Paul will certainly be equally nutty about cutting taxes, spending, and government regulation, he will also be a hard-liner against involvement in foreign wars and a solid voice against the restriction of civil liberties.

There are very sound reasons why McConnell did not want Paul on the Republican team, and the Republican establishment has to peer through a microscope to find any good news at all in Tuesday's election. I guess that's why Mary42 is stamping his or her little feet so much today.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"worrying implications for political journalism" Yeah, that's a real worry for me. Right up there with the rising price of matryoshka dolls.

Posted by: golewso | May 19, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse


that has yet to be determined but I can see you're a faithful watcher of Olbermann though because that's the story he ran with.

I'd also say that (from what MSNBC said earlier today) that Rand Paul received more votes in the primary than any other Republican primary on record but I'm guessing you didn't hear that. That's pretty substantial too. We'll see come November who wins there. Could it be a toss-up, sure. Here's the link from Can't wait for new ones to come out.


if we're lucky the incumbent Republican party will be out the door. They've proven their uselessness. When/IF the Republicans take over majority in the Senate I don't see any way that McConnell is Majority Leader (note I don't expect it in this election cycle, maybe in 2012 depending on how this one goes).

I don't think we can take anything from last night yet and project it to November. We'll have to wait and see.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

John Stossel did a piece on Murtha several years ago, talking to constituents who had nothing but praise for Murtha. Then he quoted to them things Murtha had said, and legislation he had voted on, and the ones that made the piece all disagreed with--sometimes vehemently--Jack Murtha. But they loved him. And were going to vote for him. Tough for "anti-incumbency" to unseat the Huey Longs of the world, no matter what the national mood may be.

Still, Critz wasn't the incumbent. It's just not a good example. Incumbency, especially in special races, is specific to a person more than it is to a party, no matter how much we think a new candidate represents the old office holder.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 19, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse


I did not see Olbermann (or any TV at all) last night. My comments come from looking at the raw numbers this morning in the local paper, and a quick read at "The Hill" and "Politico" websites, which I hope you'd agree take a different slant than Olbermann and Maddow.

If you take issue with any of the specifics in my comments, I'll be glad to discuss them, but please don't assume that I am recycling MSNBC.

If Paul set a record for votes in a Kentucky Republican primary, and if the Democrats doubled that number, then I still think that the Dems' side is a story that is underplayed.

And (once again) the fact that Paul is the nominee is not a happy outcome for the Republican establishment. He will be less appealing to independent voters in November and, if elected, he will be more of a civil libertarian and a military skeptic than Jim Bunning. If you can explain why the Republicans should be pleased with the outcomes in Kentucky, I'm all ears.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: "Last night was a reminder that 'all politics is local' and that November may not be as bruising for Democrats as many Republicans and Tea Partiers have hoped and predicted."

Politics can be national, as well, especially in the national elections, when there are multiple major races in every state and municipality. But I tend to agree with your conclusion: November is unlikely to be as bruising for Democrats as Republicans, Tea Partiers, and even many Democrats are predicting. For a lot of reasons.

I'd be please as punch to see Democrats voted out en masse as a bunch of conservative freshmen took control of both houses. Gridlock! Compromise! Republicans obligated to try and govern (Do what now?).

I'd also like to win the lottery. It's better not to confuse what one would like to happen with what is likely to happen. I don't see anything approaching a '94 sweep in 2010. I'd be pleasantly surprised to be wrong, but I think the certainty with which Tea Partiers and conservative pundits are predicting a massive conservative sweep into the house and senate is off-base. Not impossible, and incumbents who are poor campaigners are likely to be kicked out, but I don't think the problem is a universal antipathy to all incumbents, or one particular party.

Candidates like Coakley, who seem unwilling to campaign and to obviously resent their constituents, will be very likely to lose, however.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 19, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse


You Teapartiers' strident insistence that the Healthcare Reform Bill is "deeply unpopular" don't make it so.

Posted by: jonboinAR | May 19, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse


my apologies as that was the exact same tact that Olbermann took. If you say you didn't see them there then who am I to quibble with that.

Well sure the Dems side will be underplayed (as I'd want it if i was them) because Paul is a tea party candidate. It should be Paul's job at this point (if he wants to win for sure) to show some more mainstream tendencies that Republicans can vote for. Some things like military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are black and white but others are not like fiscal responsibility. It all depends on how he plays it.

Would the Republicans win much more easily with Grayson than with Paul, sure. The polls show that. But then what fun would that be.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So Kentucky slapped Mitch McConnel's face and voted for an anti-Israel, pro-drug, pro-gay-marriage, anti-war Rand Paul. It is credible to ask whether Rand Paul would have won if his father were not Ron Paul. And it is credible to ask whether such extreme people as Paul can actually win in November in purple states.

And the Dems won 100% of the elections yesterday where real seats, not just primary nominations, were up for grabs.

And the recent-Republican Specter was booted out of office for a real Democrat.

And the anti-health-care Lincoln is now in a fight for her life.

And recent polls suggest that Dems are the less hated politicians right now.

And the Dems were right about the gulf oil danger, and were right about the Iraq War, and were right about GM and Chrysler, and were right about the stimulus, and jobs are improving so much that Obama might be able to soon claim that he has created more jobs in two years than Bush has done in his entire eight years, and he will certainly be able to remind everyone that the GOP drove the country into a ditch and that people like Rand Paul and Sarah Palin want the keys to the car.

I am here and now predicting a major disappointment for Republicans this November.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you just say that Pennsylvania democratic voters didn't see Arlen Specter as an actual democrat. They'd been voting against him for 30 years - and they had an alternative. I think that's all there is to it. Trying to extrapolate a trend out of this one-off situation is silly.

Posted by: lcrider1 | May 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

To the extent that Ezra's point is that political pundits (and amateur junkies like myself) like to put a nice narrative story on top of a series of events, but that depending on the circumstances and the sample size, this is sort of a fruitless exercise. There are definitely moments when you can say with some degree of certainty that the results of an election amount to a "statement" by some majority of the electorate, but most of the time there are a variety of reasons for the way elections turn out and voters are thinking different things as they cast their ballots. "Stories" or "messages" are artificial. Any attempt to plop them down on reality is going to be, to some degree, a messy affair.

Posted by: MosBen | May 19, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

" "Stories" or "messages" are artificial. Any attempt to plop them down on reality is going to be, to some degree, a messy affair. "

Just as what we say last night -- reality is a messy affair -- doesn't mean we don't honestly report the story.

And if you missed the message, stay tuned as Rand Paul might say ...

Posted by: Mary42 | May 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse


Well I'll give you that 100% of 1 is 1. Other things you say may be faulty but your math is spot on!

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

saW last night, rather...

Posted by: Mary42 | May 19, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse



and while I may be wrong about my prediction, I don't see any "faults" in my statements.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

To vvf2:

The President of the United States and the Governor of Pennsylvania supported Specter. ENOUGH SAID!!!

It is time to take our government back...REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER…VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | May 19, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse


I guess I could have said 100% of doctors who are tea party candidates who have fathers in the House of Representatives won their primaries in a landslide.

And Lincoln is in the fight of her life not only because she's "anti healthcare" as you put it (even though she did vote for it btw and the President did radio spots for her).

You also forget that Ms. Lincoln may be caught up in that "get the incumbent out" fervor and not just because of her YES vote on healthcare. Sorry that's faulty to me.

Dems are the less hated polticians now. Doesn't mean they're loved though. The way I see it "incumbents" are the more hated politicians now more than either Dems or republicans.

Oh and i've got a big fault of your Specter take. I'm guessing that if he'd have beaten Specter you'd have been spouting off that he couldn't have won as a Republican against Toomey (absolutely right).

Have you seen the Sestak/Toomey polling?

Toomey's in a good spot right now (especially with how he's trending too).

Wonder why you didn't mention that???

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

What will prove most interesting is when the Tea-Party-preferred candidates reach Congress.

Just how well will their juvenile "We're Taking Our Government Back!" rhetoric going to work in the House and Senate where they will be the lowest ranking members dependent upon the senior members for their assignments? Does anyone think that Nancy Pelosi will put up with their nonsense?

The Tea Party Revolt is — to use a well worn cliche worthy of their own well worn cliches — only a tempest in a tea pot. They're an incoherent, leaderless movement that borders on becoming a mob, manipulated by the Rush-Beck-Hannity heirs to Lenin and Geobbels. 2010 may be their time to shine at the polls, but by 2012 they will be a sad, fading memory not worthy of even a laugh.

Serious problems require serious people to solve them, not jokes and jokers hardly worthy of late night TV. I'd compare the Tea Partiers to the Three Stooges, except that dishonors the Stooges.

Posted by: tomcammarata | May 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"The President of the United States and the Governor of Pennsylvania supported Specter. ENOUGH SAID!!!" -- AngryMobVoter

Here's a counterexample to your theory: My parents are such fans of President Obama that they have pictures of him up in their house. They also voted for Sestak and asked their friends and family to do the same. They understand that Obama made a deal to get Specter to switch and they respect that -- at the same time they couldn't pull the lever for a man who they had voted against repeatedly when he was a Republican for 30 years.

Posted by: vvf2 | May 19, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse


You haven't proved my statements incorrect or faulty.

You simply provided more factoids so as to support an alternate hypothesis.

Regarding Lincoln, she lost ground because she was an obstacle to health reform at one point. She got on the wagon after it became obvious she was on the wrong side of the issue. Had she supported HCR instead of tried to play it for advantage, she would not have been opposed in the primary.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse



Obama supported specter because he promised to help him thru the primaries if he switched party. His support was more about following his word than anything else, though it was also about rewarding and encouraging GOP defections.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse


the president made that "deal" as you put it (which if a republican did it many around here they'd be screaming from the rooftops but i digress). Rendell didn't make it.

His talk lately has made me ashamed of being a Philadelphia Eagles fan :-)

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse


Just as an FYI its IMPOSSIBLE to prove opinions incorrect. That's why they're called opinions.

Do you have proof that Halter wouldn't have run against her if she supported HCR from the start? I'd love to know where you get all your inside info from.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear AngryMobVoter:
Stop drinking the Kool-Aide about "taking our country back." THINK before you speak. THINK that the prior occupant of the White House's ineptitude is what led to this country's near bankruptcy, pathetic status among world leaders and trillions in debt spent on a war Cheney fabricated and threatened to kill anyone who questioned his motives. Is that what you want to go BACK to? Maybe you should go back to whatever right wing-nut planet you were hatched on.

Posted by: zutelltom | May 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse


I earlier said Lincoln was anti-health care.

So OK, considering she eventually voted for it, but apparently only after she realized she had goofed on her earlier attempts to shape it in a way most progressives were against, I guess you can say my statement was "faulty".

You happy now?

But really, my statement might have been worded slightly different, and I could have still used it to make my bigger point.

Maybe I should have said that "Lincoln exposed herself as too conservative and thus enabled halter to gain traction against her."

Anyway, thank you for that minor nit pick correction. When you said "faulty" I wrongly assumed you were objecting to a series of major facts as I had presented them as justification for my prediction.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse


Just as an FYI, the world doesn't revolve around progressives.

I'm happier yes.

Wait, did you just admit you were wrong????

Somebody call Mike Wallace!!

and as for Lincoln it may not matter who they face because Boozman is polling ahead of both of them.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I am not worried about current polls.

As the elections near, and as jobs increase, and as people realize Obama has averted a new war in Iran that the GOP fervantly want and realize Obama has saved the US auto industry and as extremists like Rand Paul and Sarah Palin assume control of the GOP (as well as other things I said earlier) and as the southern beaches turn black and the summer registers hotter than any other and people start realizing health costs are out of control and that HCR will actually help them and as the GOP stymies important finreg reforms most people want and as credit card rates and bank fees are newly mitigated, people will realize that they are indeed FAR better off than at any time from 2000-2009.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse


Good for you.

Wait aren't health care costs on this administation's dime?

The auto industry may have been "saved" as you call it but I know a lot of auto dealers who were put out of business because of this administration's work. One in particular that has been in PA and in business for over 50 years was told by GM to go away and if they wanted their dealership back they'd have to front GM about $2 million and even with that there was no guarantee that they wouldn't be shut down in the future.

And with all that good feelings going on have you seen the housing market?

I like your optimism, unfounded as it is. Enjoy your kool-aid.

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse


The polling that you are looking at for the general election match-ups in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, 5+ months from now, are close to meaningless.

Both Halter and Sestak came from way behind. They ran smart campaigns and performed very well, and showed they could close a big gap even against a well-supported incumbent in a hurry. Independent voters that will decide the general elections have not begun to pay attention yet, and they won't until after Labor Day.

If you expect that Rand Paul will be able to stand up in debates and suddenly NOT be against having a central bank, or that he will suddenly support the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, or that he will be able to flip flop on support for full gay rights and legalization of drugs (and that voters would fail to notice such a makeover and punish him for it), I would urge you not place too many bets on your expectations.

True Libertarians like the Pauls stick up for their beliefs, they are comfortable with the fact that the world treats them as kooks, and they don't move one inch toward the center in general elections. That's why father Ron Paul was consistently treated like such an embarrassment by his fellow Republicans during the debates in the last Presidential campaign. There are probably many in the Tea Party itself that don't yet fully grasp the full Libertarian agenda. But the Democrats will be painting that picture for every voter in very bright colors.

None of the general election races has even begun yet, so there it is way to see to try and make anything out of last night's results as being especially determinative about the outcome in Novemmber. There is still a run-off to get through in Arkansas. But I still haven't heard a single reason why the Democrats should be less than happy with any of the outcomes last night.

If the Dems had lost PA 12, and/or if Halter had fizzled, and/or if Specter had won a close victory, and/or if Mitch McConnell's mainstream candidate had prevailed in Kentucky, I would be singing a different tune about those races. The fact that none of those things came to pass was a happy surprise when I picked up the morning paper.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse


Two homes on my block have recently sold.

Rising health care costs are not Obama's fault.

GM and Chrysler closed their dealers, not the gvmt. Given their resurgence, few will argue their actions in sum have been wrong.

My "lists" of reasons for optimism are only partial. There are many other factors. Your responses are limited and tepid and nitpicky.

Given all I enumerate, and the reality of GOP nihilism incompetence and tea bagger lunacy, and your obvious ability to think, I wonder what unspeakable reason you nevertheless support the people who drove this country into the ditch.

BTW, Coakley dominated the polls just weeks before she lost. Things change quickly prior to elections, and IMO the factors that will cause those swings this time are again in the Dem's favor.

P.S. I am no fan of all Democrats. A sizeable number of them are just as corrupt and nihilistic as the GOP. Most of them are conservatives. It's just that the greatest chance IMO of effective and proper change rests with the left wing of the party because I am convinced they are motivated more by duty or honor and better understand how the country's economy traditionally operated and was designed prior to the Reagan revolution, which is the cause of our current ills.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse


two homes does not make a market. See Ezra's most recent posts about the housing/foreclosure markets.

You're right rising costs are not Obama's fault although he did promise we'd be saving $2500. I'm still waiting for my check that I KNOW isn't coming.

Their resurgence if you're paying attention is due to cutting costs not proving yourself viable in the market. Anyone can cut costs to make a profit. My point was those dealers (and their employees) don't like the way things are going and I'd expect that the 10% unemployed as well as the many more underemployed don't like it either.

Things absolutely change and you and Patrick are right things can change between now and November but if that's the case then why was Ezra pushing polls a couple months back that HCR was a "positive" for Dems going into November??

What's that about the goose and the gander??

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak to why/how Ezra uses polls.

I speak only to my own intuition and hatred of polls since early 2000s. The polls are often used as tools by the elite to influence and sometimes they are used to measure too. The trick is knowing at any given time which use they are currently being employed for.

Ref unemployment, things are getting better not worse. Come November most people will recall why they are unemployed and as such will not vote to hand the keys back to the ones who drove the car into the ditch.

Again, your arguments are weak. You still haven't explained what the secret reason is you support those who have destroyed our economy and polarized us. I know many republicans well enough to know they have secret reasons. Their passions for those secret reasons is the explanation why their overt arguments are so weak and tepid and so often laced with falsehoods.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse


Wait a minute, you use two houses selling in your neighborhood as reason to be optimistic on the housing market and MY arguments are weak?

Wait a minute please while I pick myself up off the floor.

Who said I support anyone in particular. I don't support a specific political party. I've never given a penny to a political party of a PAC and honestly never would. I look at each candidate independently and judge them by what they've done.

Wait a minute you look at how I speak on comments section of a blog and assume how I vote and/or support?

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say the housing market is strong.

But now that you ask, because prices are down and rates can only go up and jobs are going up, it is possible we are at a bottom. Just because the media reports something doesn't mean it is true. I always consider the contrarian POV on media trends because often that is where the rewards are.

So who do you support and vote for?

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr & Lomillialor,

Existing houses have clearly started to sell again this Spring in the area where I live, and the realtor surveys in the local press confirm that houses are changing hands again.

Values aren't yet rising, and new construction remains on hold around the region, but that is not surprising in times of an over-supply after a bubble. It will take a little more time for the demand to catch up to the supply.

If one's definition of "recovery" is sky-rocketing prices again, that probably is a long way off (which is probably a good thing, because it would be foolish to reinflate the bubble, we must go through a true correction). But I cautiously share Lomillialor's perception that we are likely at or near the bottom of the crash in most markets.

I read an article in the NYT a few days ago about the fact that in Las Vegas, new construction is going up again, despite the fact that there are thousands of vacant units built a couple of years ago still on the market that have never been sold. Builders are so optimistic about a market rebound they think people will pass by the older never-sold homes in favor of something that is not only never lived-in, but truly "brand new" (only in America). That trend seems genuinely stupid, but it shows that different things are happening in different markets.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse


I had said "have you seen what's going on in the housing market" and then you said: "two houses on my block have sold".

What reason did you mention those two houses if not to assume that the market was turning around?


I vote for who is the best candidate with the best ideas. Sometimes they're Republican and sometimes they're a Democrat. I live in Jon Adler's district in NJ and I voted for him this last election and I'll probably vote for him again instead of anyone the Republicans put up (especially if its Runyan). I've also said before that all things being equal I'd probably vote for Obama in 2012 depending on who the Republican candidate ends up being and how the country's going. If it was today, I'd vote for Obama.


I agree that reinflating the bubble is a horrible idea. The point is I'm also not in favor of just handing irresponsible homeowners a blank check either. Modify their mortgages. Give them reasonable interest rates and lock them in, extend payments on the back end if you have to. I'll just be really annoyed though if I purchased a mortgage that I could afford and some people (certainly not all) over-extended themselves into homes that I was responsible enough not to get myself into and then they get a sweetheart deal. That's what'll annoy me.

Oh and stop screwing with the interest rates. (like that'll happen no matter who is in power).

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 19, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

"The point is I'm also not in favor of just handing irresponsible homeowners a blank check either."

Neither am I. And I think some people have the wrong mortgage not so much because they are "irresponsible" but instead because lenders made loans that never should have been made, and the entire real estate and lending industry was telling novice and unsophisticated prospective buyers they'd would be irresponsible NOT to step right up and take advantage of the never-ending boom market.

But even when the lender shares the blame, I think there is almost nothing that the government can or should do, other than to try to pass reasonable mortgage lending regulations to help ensure that history does not repeat itself.

I fully agree that there has to be a natural shake-out to complete the correction, both in fairness to all buyers who did not take on risky loans, and for the overall health of the market as it finally begins to slowly turn around.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 19, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse


I already explained what my housing-market comment meant. I didn't stutter.

Also, glad to hear you aren't a kool-aide drinking ideologue. I'll read your posts in a new light from now on.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 19, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

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