America is screwed.
Oh alright, I'll go into a little detail. My prediction for the election is that Democrats will salvage a thin majority in the Senate and Republicans will gain a small majority in House. It means that, politically, the next two years are going to be vicious and destructive. The economy is a mess, global warming is not going to wait, American prestige and relevance (outside military firepower) are declining rapidly, are millions are loosing their futures. The next congress will not only pass up opportunities to turn things around, it will actively work to make things worse. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to look at the next couple of weeks--from the election to the when the new congress gets to work.
When the Tuesday votes are counted, the division of power in the two houses of congress will appear to be clear, but there will still be surprises. Naturally, some races will take a while to be decided and a few will go on till all the lawsuits are done *cough* Alaska *cough*. No matter how many seats they win, Republicans will be crying fraud because they didn't get more. Making baseless claims about Democratic voter fraud has become too important a part of their fundraising machine for them to give in to reality. Beyond that, I expect there to be much more maneuvering and intrigue than usual.
First, the House. If the Democrats pull off a miracle and somehow still have a majority, the republicans will try to fix that by getting Blue Dogs to change parties. Ironically, there will be fewer Blue Dogs for them to court. Something like one third of the Blue Dogs will have been replaced by Republicans. That's fairly unlikely. What's more likely is the ensuing chaos within the Republican caucus. The Republican establishment is going to try to impose party discipline on the newly elected Tea Party congresspersons. This class of radicals is not going to be as easy to digest as some from earlier years. They not only are nuts, but there are aspiring king-makers in the caucus who will try to harness them for their own purposes. Boehner might be challenged for the leadership. Bachmann has already named herself leader of the tea party caucus. DeMint wants to form his own power bloc in both houses. I'm sure some of those who are planning to run for president are weighing the pros and cons of becoming the tea party candidate. That last is an important point, the tea party is not going to go away. They've had a taste of blood and the demagogues who've whipped them up aren't going to suddenly back off.
In the Senate, Joe Lieberman is probably going to start caucusing with the Republicans or officially become one. My logic is this based on the assumption that Lieberman will run for another term in 2012. If he does, he can't count on the big Republican crossover vote that he got in 2006 and he can't count on any Democrats voting for him instead of the party's nominee. His only chance is to claim the nomination of one of the parties. There's enough bad blood among the Democrats over his 2006 behavior that he's unlikely to win their nomination if there is any credible alternative. But if he's able to run in the Republican primary as the incumbent, he has a shot at cinching the nomination. The wild cards are the party establishments. If the Democratic establishment decides to support him and intimidates credible challengers into staying out of the race, he could get the nomination. But that would lead to massive staying home in November. On the other side, he could face a tea party insurrection if he goes for the Republican nomination. He'll do his Hamlet routine of publicly agonizing over the decision, telling us over and over again how principled he is, and forcing both parties to court him. And there's no guarantee that he'll get the nomination of the party that bids the most for him, but I think he'll decide that his best chances lie with the Republicans and his BFFs McCain and Graham. Then again, he might decide to quit the Senate and take a high paying slot as the other token "liberal" at Fox.
I could say more, but I'm too depressed.