Michael Barone used to be a respected political analyst once upon a time. As editor of the Almanac of American Politics and a ubiquitous presence inside the Beltway, his was a prime shaper of narratives. But over the last decade and a half, Barone’s sharp lurch to the right has slowly destroyed his credibility, as Mark Schmitt ably documents in this terrific takedown.
But DC being what it is, Barone still gets listened to – which means he’s still a worthy target of our derision. Thankfully, he makes the task very, very easy. Dave Weigel has helpfully dug up a true Barone gem from just four years ago – and I really do mean gem. Almost every sentence in the piece was either wrong when it was written or quickly became wrong soon after. To give you a sense, here’s the sentence Weigel pulled his quote from:
[T]he 2004 presidential election results tell us that Republicans are in even stronger shape than their 55-45 and 232-203 Senate and House margins suggest.
When you see a line like that, you just have to click the link because you know the whole piece is going to be awesome. And it is. The piece just gets better and better. The next graf:
Start with the Senate. George W. Bush carried 31 states that elect 62 senators. There are nine Republican senators from Kerry states and 16 Democratic senators from Bush states. Many of these are from states that were close in the presidential election. But there are 11 Democrats and only three Republicans from states where their presidential nominee got less than 47 percent of the vote. There are more Democrats with political incentives to vote with Bush than there are Republicans with incentives to vote against him.
Didn’t quite work out that way, did it?
As for the House, we now know which presidential candidate carried each of the 435 congressional districts, thanks to Polidata, which crunched the numbers for National Journal and the Almanac of American Politics (of which I am co-author). These numbers surprised even some political pros. Bush carried 255 districts and John Kerry only 180. In all, 41 Democrats represent Bush districts and 18 Republicans represent Kerry districts. Eliminating the districts where the House member’s presidential candidate won 47 percent or more, we find only five Republicans in strong Kerry districts but 30 Democrats in strong Bush districts.
What a disaster that turned out to be for Dems! But here’s the real money shot:
The implications? In the long run, Republicans are well positioned to increase their numbers in both the Senate and the House. Some Democrats hold seats because of personal popularity or moderate voting records. But when they retire, Republicans may well succeed them. In the short run, very few Republicans run great political risks by supporting Bush. Significantly more Democrats run great political risks by opposing him. Obstruction doesn’t work well for Democrats in Bush seats: Just ask former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. And at the moment, on Social Security, as Democrats Stan Greenberg and James Carville wrote last month, “Voters are looking for reform, change and new ideas, but Democrats seem stuck in concrete.”
I started to put various chortle-worthy parts of this paragraph in boldface but I had stop because the whole thing was becoming a mess of HTML tags. In any event, we should be quite glad that the Republicans listened to Barone and the Dems ignored Carville. (To show you how stupidly off-base the concern trolling was over Democrats’ “position” on Social Security in 2005, read this article and enjoy a laugh.)
Sadly, as I said at the outset, some people still take this bungler seriously. But fortunately, it’s fewer every year. And so I bring Barone’s column to you and the world as a public service – a reminder that if you aren’t busy tuning him out, at the very least, believe the opposite of whatever he says.