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Insider Analysis: Predictions of Democatic Defeat Premature

By       Message Linn Washington       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Incessant news media reports about Republicans retaking Capitol Hill by routing Democrats in the November general election are inaccurate according to the third highest ranking Democrat in Congress, himself a former newspaper publisher.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn concedes Democrats will lose some seats on Capitol Hill but predicts Democrats will both retain and gain enough seats to maintain their majorities in the House and the Senate.

"When you go district by district instead of using a broad Inside-the-Beltway analysis you see Democrats faring well," said Rep Clyburn during a Monday September 20th meeting with the Editoriall Board of The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper.

Three days later, Clyburn, upon emerging from an election campaign strategy meeting at the White House, said Democrats could lose as many as twenty seats in the House but will maintain control with a 234-211 seat margin over Republicans.

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For months predictions from press pundits and pollsters have painted a picture of Republicans snatching control of Capitol Hill by trouncing Democrats in November.

Where many analysts see a political tsunami washing away Democrats, the political tea leaves read by Clyburn and others point to a different outcome.

"There are a number of districts around the country where Republicans represent districts with Democratic majorities and this will change," predicted Clyburn, who represents South Carolina's 6th District that includes the state's capital of Columbia.

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"For example, Joe Garcia is ahead in Florida and Cedric Richmond is leading in New Orleans," Clyburn said during a wide-ranging interview at the Tribune. Clyburn co-founded the now defunct Coastal Times weekly newspaper in Charleston, SC.

Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah, who joined Clyburn for the Tribune E-Board interview, also declared that Democrats "will not lose the House or the Senate" using a similar calculus to Clyburn's.

While partisan self-interest definitely drives this electoral perspective of Clyburn, Fattah and others, emerging evidence seems to support their point of view.

A recent article in the London-based Economist examining the race in Louisiana's 2nd congressional district pitting incumbent Republican David Cao (the first Vietnamese-American to serve in that body) against state legislator Cedric Richmond stated, "Mr. Cao will have a tough time retaining the seat."

Recent polls show Democrat Joe Garcia leading GOP candidate David Riveria in Florida's 25th Congressional District, which is a seat now held by a Republican.

Results from a recent non-partisan Battleground Poll conducted by Politico and George Washington University found a virtual tie among respondents when asked which party they planned to vote for in November.

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Clyburn cited Pennsylvania's hotly contested 6th Congressional District. In this district that stretches from the Philadelphia border west into Reading Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach faces a surging challenge from Iraq War veteran Manan Trivedi who has tightened the race that pundits once called a walk-away for Gerlach.

Early last month the Gerlach campaign created a stink by sniping at Trivedi, a medical doctor, for relying on the Indian-American community for his campaign funds. Reviews of campaign finance records showed Trivedi receiving less than one-third of his funding from that ethnic community with Gerlach getting an embarrassing 90% of his PAC money from out-of-state sources.

However, in another hotly contested Pennsylvania race, Democrat incumbent and Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy is battling an offensive from Republican Mike Fitzpatrick who formerly held that 8th Congressional District seat in suburban Philadelphia. Polls place Fitzpatrick over a dozen points ahead.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)

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