While on the way back home with [livejournal.com profile] damashita and the boys after taking them out trick-or-treating, we heard a report on NPR which featured a scientist who was doing behavioural research at Emory University, which prompted all sorts of thoughts. If matters had worked out as far as financial aid and the like were concerned, after finishing my B.A. in English and History in 1988 from the University of Richmond, i'd have entered a masters programme at Emory doing a concentration in the U.S. Civil War-related studies.

Since one of the only things as singularly as unsalable in the job market as a B.A. in English and History is a M.A. in History, i'd probably have ended up doing a Ph.D. and subsequently gotten into the academic rat race of teaching and publishing. By now, i'd probably have written the definitive histories of the Stonewall Brigade (CSA, Army of Northern Virginia), the Richmond Grays (CSA, ANV- and one of the units with the highest concentration of Jewish soldiers in the war), and the Iron Brigade (USA, primarily Army of the Potomac until June 1865, Army of Tennessee afterwards); and probably a few cross-field studies on the evolution of tactics which saw the American Civil War make the transition from Napoleonic warfare to modern war; and who knows what other monographs.

I'd probably have avoided the disaster that my relationship with my rabidly fundamentalist ex-wife became; but probably never have migrated to the Pacific Northwest and hooked up with [livejournal.com profile] damashita. Life would be drastically different. I somehow doubt that it'd be better, especially since my historical interests have shifted significantly since then. Not to mention having a stable, loving relationship and a couple o' great kids in the mix.

And now for something completely different...

A week from today, the US has an election. Looking at advance polling, it is completely possible that the US Senate could be evenly divided. Currently, with seats not up for election this cycle and those in areas where polling shows one candidate to have an advantage of over ten percent over the other, representation would be 43 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Independent Bernie Sanders is listed on the Democratic line in the Vermont Senate race, and caucuses with the Democrats. The Connecticut Senate race is functionally between the incumbent, Joe Lieberman, running as an Independent although he has said he'd continue to caucus with the Democrats; and Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, who beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary. Maryland's race to replace the retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes has Democrat Ben Cardin polling fairly reliably significantly above Republican challenger Michael Steele- but not quite the ten percent which could be said to make it a lock. This leaves five races: New Jersey, Montana, and Virginia- all showing polling favouring the Democratic candidates; Tennessee and Missouri- which have had poll results fluctuating wildly and always within the margins of error over the last month or so.

Assuming Lieberman is good to his word and remains functionally a Democrat and Sanders continues to caucus with the Democrats, it is completely possible that the chamber could be divided 50-50— which, with as partisan as matters are these days would potentially place the Vice-President regularly in the position of casting the tie-breaking vote.

U.S. history shows few such cases where the VP could concievably be called upon to regularly function as the tie-breaker. The 72nd Congress (1930-1932) was composed of 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and one senator from the Farmer-Labor party- but legal concerns kept the body from admitting one elected Republican member, who was replaced with a Democrat in a special election; and the death of another Republican member led to the change of that seat- making the body functionally 46R/49D/1 F-L. Similarly, the 1952 elections saw the division in the 83rd Congress 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 1 Independent- and saw three special elections resulting from deaths, resulting in one seat shifting to the Democrats. It's not clear with a cursory amount of research how the Independent voted. This change would continue through the 84th Congress- 48 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 1 Independent. The 107th Congress (2000-2002) was 50-50, but from 3 January (when the Senate was seated) until 20 January (the inauguration of the President and Vice-President), functionally 51-50 with the vote of then Vice-President Gore. Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party to become an Independent caucusing with the Democrats, but was still elected as a Republican- depriving Cheney of many cases to break party-line ties.

This year, things could be drastically different. 48D-50R-2I and 49D-50R-1I are concievable, if not likely- so, for the first time, we may see a significant number of 50-51 party line votes. Tuesday evening will amount to "interesting times."

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Vanya Y Tucherov

December 2016

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