Saturday, February 5, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Egypt, again, of course. I do want to suggest two other things, though. One is that the Congressional election cycle is well underway. It's still a bit early for retirements, but we've already had three in the Senate, with an open North Dakota seat a major GOP opportunity. Also, in Montana the Republicans have recruited their top choice to take on the incumbent Democratic Senator there. Nothing much in the House, yet, but it's worth keeping an eye on things. Yes, strong national tides can render candidates relatively unimportant, but other than national tides this is what matters in House and Senate elections.

The second thing I'm watching, as I've mentioned before, is Afghanistan, and in particular casualty figures. There, the big (and continuing) news is that coalition and American deaths have really leveled off over the last seven months -- January ended with the first year-to-year decrease in coalition fatalities in years, so that's the news peg, but the larger story is that the trend has been flat now for more than half a year. From the narrow point of view of electoral politics (that is, in the US), I'm fairly confident that this is the thing to keep an eye on; if casualties drop some, it will give Barack Obama a lot more flexibility to do whatever he wants over there. Of course, it's not just about US politics -- the higher the death toll, the harder it will be to keep coalition partners on board, because the same calculations figure in other democracies, as well.

The other numerical stuff out this week were the unemployment report, which didn't strike me as a major deal politically, and Obama's approval ratings, which slipped back down to mid-40s per Gallup. With both, we'll just have to see where the trends go; with both, single readings could easily be statistical variation, not real news.

What do you think mattered this week?


  1. The one-word response of "Egypt" (even repeated five times) is too flippant to answer the question.

    If the question is "What Mattered This Week for U.S. Politics?", then I would say:

    The beginnings of the Egyptian transfer of power to Omar Suleiman, because it showed that the U.S. approved a person with good U.S. connections but no democratic credentials.

  2. Wait, what's happening in Egypt?


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