And what happens if Republicans lose the White House, fail to make any progress in taking back the Senate and see their majority erode in the House of Representatives?
I can see two potential narratives.
First, the conservative/Tea Party wing blames the defeat on Romney's lack of seriously conservative credentials. The solution to defeat, then, is to move the party further to the right. In the context of the fiscal cliff, that would mean the party would dig in its heels on spending and tax cuts. Some in the conservative/Tea Party wing believe so strongly that the future of the Republic hinges on cutting taxes and spending, and on reducing the size of the federal government, that they would be willing to pull a "Thelma and Louise," and drive off a cliff rather than compromise.
Second, the more pragmatic wing of the Republican Party -- which has been shrinking in size and influence in the past two election cycles -- blames the conservative/Tea Party wing for the Republican defeat on Tuesday. In this narrative, the extremism of conservative/Tea Party wing candidates alienated independent voters, and, despite Romney's efforts to run back toward the center in the campaign's closing days, cost Republicans the election.
Tasting the tea
I'd expect a tough battle between these two narratives if Republicans lose. The winning side will likely depend on which Republican candidates win and lose on Tuesday.
Conservative/Tea Party Republicans would argue that losses by Senate candidates such as Richard Mourdock in Indiana and incumbent Todd Akin in Missouri were due to extreme positions and verbal ineptitude more than to the candidates' fiscal policies. That argument gets harder to make if Republicans lose in Virginia, Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin, but I'd expect that conservative/Tea Party Republicans will spin a narrative that says candidates such as Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin lost because they were insufficiently conservative.
That narrative will get harder to sustain if clearly conservative/Tea Party incumbents lose their races in the House of Representatives -- or if conservative/Tea Party stalwarts shakily survive surprisingly tough challenges.
Races to watch to see if candidates with conservative/Tea Party credentials lose and weaken the "We weren't conservative enough" narrative: Arizona's 9th District, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema faces Vernon Parker; California's 3rd District, where incumbent Democrat John Garamendi faces a challenge from Kim Vann in a redrawn district; California's 9th District, where incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney faces off against Ricky Gill; Connecticut's 5th District, where Democrat Elizabeth Esty faces Andrew Roraback; Michigan's 1st District, where Tea Party favorite Dan Benishek's opponent, Gary McDowell, has tied him to Ryan's Medicare plans; and New York's 24th District, where Ann Marie Buerkle, a Tea Party Republican, faces a rematch with Dan Maffei. Parker, Vann, Gill and Roraback are all recruits of the "Young Gun" program designed to boost young conservatives to victory in House races.
Races to watch to see if they're close enough to scare conservative/Tea Party Republicans: Michelle Bachmann in Minnesota's 6th District, Allen West in Florida's 18th District, Steve King in Iowa's 4th District and Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland's 6th District.
To the winner goes the narrative
There's just about no chance that the House will switch hands in this election, but the narrative, win or lose, is up for grabs.
And although the election will be decided on Tuesday (probably), the battle over the narrative to explain the results will have just begun. And it's that story -- the story that politicians will tell themselves to explain the results -- that will provide the background for the politics of the fiscal cliff that will dominate the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.
For once, the political rhetoric will count. Listen carefully as politicians try to explain to themselves what happened on Tuesday.
Updates to Jubak's Picks
These recent blog posts contain updates to the stocks in Jubak's market-beating portfolios:
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- Why Yamana shares are soaring
- Signs of trouble for Apple?
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- Freeport-McMoRan's solid quarter
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Jim Jubak's column has run on MSN Money since 1997. He is the author of the book "The Jubak Picks," based on his market-beating Jubak's Picks portfolio; the writer of the Jubak's Picks blog; and the senior markets editor at MoneyShow.com. Get a free 60-day trial subscription to JAM, his premium investment letter, by using this code: MSN60 when you register at the Jubak Asset Management website.
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I am totally confused! Why on earth do people vote the bums back in when the approval rating of Congress is at an absolute low!! Are they rewarding these do-nothings (the Congress of NO)?
The result will be very interesting ~ and if the congress remains at an all time low and nothing is done in years to come, it is the fault of the voters. When workers don't do their job, they are fired. When Congress or CEO's don't do their job, they are still rewarded by being voted back in or offered millions in pay bonuses!
It don't matter what party wins the PEOPLE OF AMERICA lose. All I hear is middle class, middle class middle class. who is the middle class 200 K a year 500 K a year 1 million a year ?? OBAMAS PLAN TAKE FROM THE RICH & GIVE TO THE POOR. HOW'S ABOUT GIVING THE POOR JOBS & they will take care of themselfs. OH hell can it be that simple ?? Yes it can !!!. So people go out & waste your time voting because they already know who the electoral voters are & you know damm well with each spending a billion dollars each you know they already have who they need & have bought there vote.If you think WE THE PEOPLE put the pres in office think again. It's the biggest con in american history WE the people what a joke !!!!
The Americans that will decide this election are the ones who don’t drink either the Democrat controlled Media or Republican controlled Medias “kool aid”. We are sick and tired of both placing their parties agendas ahead of the countries needs. These wild back and forth elections between the two parties are just going to keep getting worse. Both parties keep mistaking a swing in their direction as a validation of their agendas and platforms. Nothing could be further from the truth; the swing is a rejection of the current parties promise for real change that was NOT delivered. The people of America are sick and tired of the Washington blame game. The party that figures this out and finally provides REAL and HONEST change will be a big winner, but neither party seem to be seems to be able to get their collective heads out of their own kool aid punch bowl and see reality. Practicing addicts never seem to be able to see their own future.
I also seem to remember that litterally HUNDREDS of bills which were passed by the Republican-controlled House were totally ignored by the Democrat-controlled Senate! It takes two to do the political-tango and if the Democrats were really interested in compromise they would at least have VOTED on a few of the House bills! Liberals are total hypocrites and need to be beaten at the polls before they finally "get it" and realize that they cannot have everything they want! If the Dems really had wanted to pass through all of Obama's and his liberal minions policies, they would have done it during the first two years of Obama's reign. They didn't because they knew in their hearts that it would have been political suicide and the slaughter in the polls in 2010 would have been much worse.
Even Bill Clinton had the intelligence to realize that if you wanted to get anything done in D.C., you needed to reach across the aisle. But, as Obama once said, "We won, deal with it!" His ideas of compromise entailed only the Republicans doing any compromise!
when society keeps being so complacent and letting them do as they do with no consequences for their actions or inactions there's nothing to make them leave or do the job they were put in the offices they abuse.
it's Einstein's quote,
"the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome".
If reelected, BO does not have the stomach for reducing spending and working toward a balanced budget. So, Fiscal Cliff, here we come if he is reelected.
I don't trust either political party, and would rather have divided government, over a clear majority for either side. For this reason my vote went Republican in the Senate (anti-incumbent) and Democrat in the House (also anti-incumbent). I don't trust either of them to be anything but self serving, and corrupt in "service" to their respective lobbyists and PACs who have bought them off. To basically screw the people and the nation as a whole if it's in their own self interest, or the interest of their lobbying handlers.
Not that they'll read it that way, but my vote in Congress was against both sides, nor do I support either partisan agenda in this....
This election is meaningless. it is a TOTAL waste of time and money. The nation is split between people that want to do away with social security and medicare to pay for wall streets greed and those who want to make wall street pay their share to pay down the debt they caused. I hear Romney and other republicans say we need to pay down the debt so our kids can have a future but, they want our kids to pay the debt with their social security and medicare benifits. Then when out kids retire they won't have nothing left to help them when wall streets greed wipes out thier 401K's and other retirement programs
When you turn social security over to the private sector someone has to make a profit. and the greed begains again and look where our kids end up. Living on the streets like many old folks did before we had social security and medicare but, don't take my word for it, look it up in your history books start in 1929 and, while your at it check on how the resessions seem to start every single time a republican is in office. then ask yourself " can we take another hit right now?'' well can we?
understand one thing term limits wont do nothing they can retire in 4 years 100% full benefits and medical why would u want even more of them crooks collecting a nice pension just vote them out every term so they cant collect that sweet pension !!!!!
Has anyone thought how bad off we are economically when politics have become so important to our economic future? This is not normal folks! This is totally backwards, when you think about it.
IMHO, to paraphrase General Sherman "Politics is all crap." Doesn't matter which side you're on.
Has Hussane ever had an employee? Has Hussane ever had to meet a payroll each week to stay in business? Has Husane ever borrowed a million dollars and had a mortgage to meet each month in order to hope to be successful in the business world? Was Hussane educated on the public nickel?
And, has his running mate Biden ever had an employee? NO !!! The only employees either one of them ever had the tapyers footed the bill. Biden has been on the public nipple for 50 years in washington.
Yet, we hird them to run the country. Sad, but true. I heard reecently, if you think Greece is in bad shape, if you think Italy is in bad shape, you ain't seen nothing yet!!!
I think all people should have food to eat, I think all people should have a roof over their heads, HWEVER, a few people have never wanted a job, never paid a dime income tax to support our way of life, always been on the public nipple, yet they can vote themselves a raise.
You cant increase wealth by deviding it.
Did you ever see someone that has never wanted a job, provide a job for employees????
We are awaiting impatiently the coming Fiscal Cliff confrontation with the President versus the House of Representatives. It’s imperative the rich pay a little more money to improve our economy, and to pay our Fiscal Debt. Fiscal changes our citizens want now to make America a better place to live, to pay our Nation Bills to correct the deficit! And then, of course! Mr.Obama, may needs to get ready to clip for last time, Mr.Boehner wings. We think, one way or another, Mr.Bohener, Ryan, Cantor will return to the old times tricks of bartering one goods for another, like many times before, but we aren’t going to be the losers this time, all that past abuse was very, very humiliating to our citizens, you, and all your followers Tea Party and Republican Members in the House, so much poor of conscience, and careless for the future of our country. You, and the full House members have obstructed the President too much, too many times, much too far! Mr.Bohener, keep playing hero, telling the president how to fix the Economy, listen, one more time it’s getting old, and we, all of us, millions of us, are awaiting impatiently for the fairness created by our president with this new Congress. We are here, all of us, late at night, awaiting in front of our TV sets, the final results of the efforts from yours/our president Obama, to dismantled the infernal machine of your House of Representatives budget locks, and cut your engines power, with all of you aboard members, all of yours live gifted millions of dollars provided by the sweat and work from our backs, in our great nation of purposely induced by you all, a systemic cruel land of hunger of the American people. You all Tea party and Republican members are the abusers, continuous negation to work for the people, by the people, and only for the people, and in 2014, we will let all of you feel the powerful winds of anger from all the guts of the millions American citizens that will not take it again from you, or anyone like you! We have too much hunger in our country, and you need to help now!
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