Election-watching with Jay Cost
NRO picks the brain of a professional horseracer.


Jay Cost is a professional horseracer, politically speaking, so he’s exactly who you want to be talking to on Election Day. National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez asks Cost, a staff writer for The Weekly Standard, about the midterms.

LOPEZ: Why does this generic-ballot talk matter?

COST: It gives us a good sense of the partisan orientation of the electorate. The Gallup organization has been doing generic-ballot polling since the 1950s, and their final generic-ballot number has proven to be extremely accurate.

LOPEZ: So it’s blowout time for the GOP?

COST: In all likelihood. Consider the following: The pre-election ABC News/Washington Post poll came back with the Republicans +4. Good, but not great. But in 1994, it came back with Democrats +2! We’re seeing that in poll after poll — something between six and nine points bigger than 1994.

LOPEZ: However big the win, what’s the message to the GOP? What’s the mandate?

COST: Grow the economy, grow the economy, grow the economy. The electorate has handed the Republican party an enormous opportunity to get back to its historic roots and what I would call the McKinley-Coolidge-Reagan wing of the party — a chance to build a broad electoral coalition based upon conservative economic ideas that deliver prosperity. That’s the No. 1 mandate.

Incidentally, that was Obama’s mandate in 2008, but he took it to be that he was the next Franklin Roosevelt. I don’t know why he thought this, considering he won only 52.9 percent of the vote, which is less than George H. W. Bush did. Obama pretended he was there to implement New Deal Mach 2, and that’s a big reason the GOP is where it is right now.

LOPEZ: The supposed dean of political reporting in Nevada has called the Reid–Angle Senate race for Reid. Should I be worried?

COST: No. There’s been a lot of heat in Nevada the last few days, but very little light. Example: All the talk about how the Democrats should be pleased with the early-voting numbers is based on incomplete data and faulty comparisons. In reality, the early-voting numbers look good for the GOP.

LOPEZ: Lisa Murkowski — seriously?

COST: We’ll see. Write-in campaigns are easier said than done. Just ask Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. Oh, wait . . .

LOPEZ: Biggest surprise you’re expecting?

COST: Dennis Kucinich will lose.