Utter Horror and Other Forms of Entertainment


There’s an election tomorrow. You might have heard that. The conventional wisdom is that Democrats are going to get whacked. And they likely will, but there’s something in me that’s not quite buying the polls. Maybe I’m in denial. Still, the one thing that seems to be distinguishing the polls—other than they’re terrifying Democrats—is that they’re all over the place. One week they show Republican momentum, another week they show a Democratic momentum…and now the Republicans are back.

As usual, it’ll come down to local politics and who’s got the best ground game. Rather than get into a whole big analysis, which seems a little pointless when the numbers are all over, I’ll just trot out my predictions, and we’ll see how it rolls tomorrow.

Republicans take back the House. Why? It’s the one thing polls seem to hold together, it’s an anti-incumbent year, largely because unemployment is so high. Since Democrats have more seats, they’re likely to take the biggest share of the blame. (Never mind that the Republicans have no idea how to get out of the economic mess other than “cut taxes”…which won’t work.)

The Senate’s going to be close. Boxer will probably hold onto her seat. Harry Reid will likely lose his, even though his opponent is arguably insane. I think the Dems will probably lose Kentucky and Pennsylvania too. God only knows what’ll happen in Alaska, though I’d hedge my bets on Murkowski—she’s a known quantity and Miller seems less and less stable. But who knows? Miller may be a protest vote. I think it’s arguable that a lot of Republicans will pick up seats as protests. Looks like Feingold’s over in Wisconsin; and it’s worth saying that the last couple of years, Feingold has been something of an arrogant son-of-a-bitch, and that may be partly why his opponent leads.

Brown probably wins the governorship in California. That’s cool. I like the Jerry. He’s a much less conventional politician than he seems, and California could use his experience. The real question marks are here in the Pacific Northwest. Patty Murray’s running a bare fisted fight with Dino Rossi, and this might finally be the year than Rossi wins one, for the aforementioned reasons. But Murray’s really pretty well liked, and Rossi’s a perennial loser, albeit by close margins. This one probably won’t be settled until the next day or later. It’ll likely come down to how the vote breaks in Puget Sound.

Close to home, we have a nail biter between Kitzhaber and Dudley for governor of Oregon. Dudley actually has a shot, as a moderate Republican in the mold of Atiyeh, and economic times are very similar to those when Atiyeh was elected. Kitzhaber’s a good, smart guy, but he burned a few bridges when he was governor, and folks may feel he’s had his shot. It’ll basically come down to Democratic turnout in Portland and Eugene…as it usually does in Oregon.

And California’s Proposition 19, legalizing marijuana? It’s been a fascinating ride on this one, but marijuana measures tend to run strong, then fade, which is what the polls indicate here. On the other hand, a lot of people who might turn out to vote on Prop 19 might be off the pollsters’ radar, so it’s not over. My general feeling is: I’ll believe it when I see it, but, after you’ve watched a president resign, guys walk on the moon, the Berlin Wall come down, and an African-American win the presidency, you hedge your bets. So Prop 19, maybe…but probably not.

Finally, if the Republicans actually win this thing like some pollsters are saying, then they’re going to have to govern. Which they suck at. And that’s where it gets entertaining, because voters don’t seem to be so much for Republicans as they are against Democrats. Entertaining, that is, unless they don’t usher in a second Great Depression with total gridlock and general insanity. Good times…not so much.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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