Transcript: Axelrod

I mean, E.J., there were 49 congressmen who are up for re-election in 2010 who are Democrats who came from districts that McCain won, so that shows you, in a way, how delicate things are for them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it goes up to 82 if you add McCain and Bush and calling...


DIONNE: ... Republicans from Obama districts.

TAPPER: Virginia's a bad bellwether, though, because it -- since 1973, it always switches party from that. I mean, George W. Bush could not have been more popular in November 2001, and the Democrat won the governor's office.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's a good point. I think that the bigger concern for the White House and for Democrats is looking at this wave that Charlie Cook, probably the best political analyst of House races, has said could be coming.

And, Paul, that all does come back to this whole question of unemployment. It's hard to imagine Democrats not facing a wave if you're looking at unemployment topping 10 percent next summer.

KRUGMAN: A couple things. First, the generic congressional ballot. We actually -- political scientists have looked into, what can you infer from that at this point in an election cycle? And the answer is nothing. It has no predictive value.

What does have some predictive value are two things, the popularity of the president, and if you want...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Still above 50 percent now.

KRUGMAN: Yes. If you look at Obama's numbers now, they look like Bush at this point in 2003, not like Clinton at this point in 1993. So, actually, Obama is not remotely in the position that Clinton was in, very unlikely to lose the Congress.

The other thing is the state of the economy. And, yes, if the unemployment rate is still rising as we go into late 2010, then we've got a problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, see, you actually -- you just brought up an important point. The absolute number may not be, E.J., what's most important. It could be the trend as we move from the summer to the...

KRUGMAN: The trend, if it's falling. If it's falling, then -- then the Democrats are in fine shape.

DIONNE: But you're looking -- you can look at '94, which was a Republican sweep. You can also look at 1982. Unemployment hit 10 percent about a week-and-a-half, two weeks before the 1982 election. The Republicans lost ground, but they held. They lost 26 seats in the House. And I think there is a good chance that, if this is a bad night for the Democrats, it will be more like '82 was for the Republicans than like '94 was for Bill Clinton.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's probably right. We just have a couple of minutes left, and I can't leave without talking for a second about this issue that gripped -- and I shouldn't say issue, the story that gripped the nation on Thursday afternoon watching that flying saucer...

NOONAN: Oh, yes, you could.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I want to bring it to you. But we just -- what we saw with this -- you know, the -- the flying saucer go off, the family all across morning television the next day. Now we're hearing that they're likely to have charges pressed against the family for perpetuating a hoax. And -- and, Peggy, I was just wondering what your thoughts on -- what do you think this says about the country, about the media? Do we pay too much attention...


TAPPER: We're all living a nightmare out of Paddy Chayefsky's dreams.

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