US elections: Real battle may be for dominance in Congress…

Interesting snippet from Dan Hannan who’s just spent the weekend with fellow conservatives in the US, at CPAC. Dan’s long been a fan of the American way, which you can take or leave according to taste, but in one thing is probably dead right. The right may not fare too well in the presidential elections, and yet consolidate it’s strength in Congress:

The Founders knew what they were doing when they put Congress in Article I of the Constitution and the Presidency in Article II. As the Executive has enlarged its authority beyond that envisaged in the constitution, so the state has swollen.

If you prefer to look at it in partisan terms, consider that the Republicans were most dominant during the period between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century. Throughout this era, they upheld the doctrine of strong Congress, weak White House. And, sure enough, the presidents of this era are reassuringly forgettable: James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, Chester Arthur, Rutherford B Hayes.

Foreign media and – more surprisingly – most Americans obsess about the pros and cons of the various presidential hopefuls, but a far more important question is whether there will be a Congressional majority dedicated to proper spending cuts.

That may or may not be a tacit admission that the Whitehouse is even now beyond the means of the Republican party.  But when you are in opposition a strong position in the Capitol is a decent means to squeeze whatever life is left in the executive.  And a new set of Governors means a decent card to run against Hillary (or someone) in 2016.

  • Kevsterino

    The Congressional races are the most difficult to accurately forecast, simply because there are over 400 of them over a vast area where circumstances vary widely. If the recent improvement in jobs creation persists, it will be interesting to see how the areas where improvement was best and worst vote. The economy will definitely be the most important factor come November.

  • I’m not sure what Hannan is saying about the broader problems that Carl Bialik didn’t say October twelvemonth back for the WSJ. And he was talking, just a week or so out, about the 2010 races. Right now, there are all kinds of other difficulties, not excluding the small matter of redistricting.

    Every race is on-line at

    Curious how the focus there, above any “issues”, is money.

    A real issue ought to be “transparency”, especially campaign finance — I hear pretty well general consensus that, somehow, the Supreme Court will have to revisit Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which blocked the McCain–Feingold Act, and so generated the SuperPACS. Add in other dubieties (echoes of 2000 in Florida, twice in Ohio): why, for example were certain parts of Maine (oddly the least-favourable to Romney, who stitched it up with a majority of …194) disqualified from the GOP Caucus?

    For a running commentary of all races there’s

    Dewi will be telling us to watch Nate Silver at

    I’d throw in:
    ¶ The Cook Report (the one I heard most cited in Georgetown) at
    ¶ a personal must-see, Chris Cillizza’s The Fix for the Washington Post.

    I think I’ve done that inside my allotment of two hot-links.

  • Aw, shucks! — “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Simply because I offer validations!

    I’m outa here.

  • Mick Fealty

    More than two URLs invokes the spam catcher Malcolm. But you might follow some of the links on Dans blog, he said the same thing four years ago.