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Experts Weigh In On The Republican House Majority

Laura Cueva |
November 2, 2010 | 9:21 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

As Republicans surge ahead of Democrats in the House, many are celebrating their wins. But just what does a Republican House majority mean for Obama, the Democrats and the rest of the country?

Experts Shaun Bowler, a professor of political science at the University of California Riverside and Jason McDaniel, a professor of political science at USC, give us their opinion.

Republicans have just won the House. What exactly does that mean for the future of the country?

Bowler: It’s an open question, because there’s a strong party sentiment within the Republican Party and it’s just not clear how that’ll work out. You find two really different points of views: John Boehner will either bring them together or they’re going to make demands and they’re really going to push to the right and we really don’t know how that’s going to work out. Last time we saw this was with Progressives; we don’t know whether the Tea Party is going to hit the ground back peddling.Broadly speaking, life goes on.I don’t mean to make this sound dismissive, but it’s just an election. Mail will still get delivered, checks will get made, kids will keep going to school. The difficulty comes back to the first point. The Tea Party is saying they’ll make a difference, the question becomes how soon?

McDaniel: Gridlock. It all comes down to gridlock. [Republicans] were projected to win, but are winning more than I thought, so it’s interesting. But it’s also, fairly consistent with the state of the economy. Voters are looking to punish the party in power. I would not interpret this as a call for more conservative polices or a punishment of more democratic polices. Voters just aren’t aware. Democrats are still going to have the Senate and the Presidency, and the thing is, this current batch of Republicans don’t want compromise. I think it’ll be difficult to see any major policy changes and it’ll be a lot of gridlock.

Are the results we’re seeing reflective of all the projections? What about voter turnout?

Bower: It seems no one knows what’s going on in the Senate. That seems to be the case, I don’t know yet. But the people who were mobilized in ‘08 by the Obama campaign are not mobilized this time, which means not just younger people, but people of color, stayed home. But, then again, that’s not true in California or New Mexico.

McDaniel: What we’re seeing is an electorate that is older, much older than that of 2008. Seniors turned out, young voters did not turn out to vote this time, so yeah there’s an enthusiasm gap. Republicans are more energized to vote, and seniors, more affluent white voters, are overwhelmingly Republican and they turned out to vote.

Is there any chance of the Republicans working together with the President in order to pass legislation or and/or policy changes?

Bowler: That’s almost a pipe dream. There are big fundamental differences in what we believe in. For instance, there’s lots of talk of the deficits [and] how soon will there be a bill in place to cut Medicare, so it’s not clear whether they’ll do that or whether they’ll do something and wait for Obama to veto it, and throw up their hands up and say “Well, we tried.” So it’s not clear. It’s not likely that they’re going to work with the Democrats; the question is how they’re going to work against them, how they’re going to try to actually pass things they believe in. It can go either way.

McDaniel: I think that’s one area where this is a little bit different from the past. The Republican Party seems to have internalized that compromise is bad. I think the President will try to do some things where he will try to get some compromise, reform policies where maybe they’ll be room for it, but this party is not interested in compromise. They don’t want to see taxes raised or the deficit lowered if it means raising taxes, so I don’t know f there’s room for compromise, but we’ll see. But the President is not powerless; he’s a very important part of this. [Whether there’s] any chance of passing his agenda, I would point out that he’s passed a huge part of his agenda. There’s been a lot of activity and the President has gotten a lot done in the first two years. You might see immigration reform. The President is going to challenge them on their word about the deficit, and he’ll challenge the Republicans there.

Reach reporter Laura Cueva, click here. Or follow her on Twitter @leccueva.



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