Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting to Sixty (MA legislature route)

Via TPM, Good news for the Democrats today on a vastly undercovered story: it looks like the Massachusetts legislature will change the law to allow for a temporary Senator this fall. Apparently, it's not yet a done deal, with a big unknown factor being whether the Democratic Senate President there will push back hard against Republican efforts to delay the bill.

I'll note that this is really very important. Generally, there's a major bias in favor of interpreting Congressional action as a result of strategies and tactics, whether it's the actions of the president, or committee chairs, or swing voters. Those things can matter -- but the bottom-line numbers matter more, and in the Senate single votes are a big deal. So the most important stories of the year are not the Gang of Six, or the timing of Obama's speech to the joint session, or the town halls; the most important stories of the year...well, I'll rank them:

1. Franken beats Coleman (shift from mainstream conservative to liberal Dem.)
2. Specter switches parties (shift from moderate Republican to mainstream Dem.)
3. Kennedy dies, is or is not replaced (shift would be from vacancy to liberal Dem.)
4. Gregg stays put (non-shift from mainstream conservative to moderate Republican)
5. Martinez resigns (shift from moderate Republican to conservative Republican)

Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't obsess about Obama's strategy and Baucus's tactics, but several of these stories have received very little attention, despite several of them (the Franken/Coleman race especially) being quite interesting in addition to being important.

Anyway, it looks like Olympia Snowe will probably shift back to being the 61st most liberal Senator, leaving Ben Nelson again as #60 (and with a similar shift in the 50th most liberal Senator). Pretty big news to follow over the next couple of weeks.

1 comment:

  1. The appointment bill will almost certainly get done, within two weeks or so. The bigger (publicly undiscussed) question is whether they muck it up in a way that allows the GOP to win a court injunction against its implementation while awaiting a ruling on its constitutionality. It looks like they have avoided this by removing the prohibition against running for the seat. But they have also added some things that I don't know enough about to say whether they endanger it again. I'll be posting about it probably later today. --DSB


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