The GOP's Election Prospects: The Real Deal
With much being made over the apparent imminent demise of Republican control of Congress in the upcoming midterms, what is the real story?
Is is all gloom and doom?
The battle for Congress rolled into a climactic final weekend with Republican Party leaders saying the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House, and that they were increasingly steeling themselves for the loss of at least 15 and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years.
Joe Gaylord, who was the political lieutenant to Newt Gingrich when he led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, said that based on polling he had seen in recent weeks, he expected his party to lose 25 to 30 seats on Tuesday. That general assessment was repeatedly echoed in interviews with Republicans close to the White House.
"It's very grim," Mr. Gaylord said. "Things are dreadful out there."
Representative Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican and veteran party strategist, said: "There's no question we're going to take a hit. The only question is how hard it would be."
Or can the GOP use their "tactical advantages" to pull an upset against the Dem juggernaut.
The "not my bum" syndrome: Every poll shows disillusionment with the Republican-controlled Congress, and a desire for change. But inevitably, even some voters who want to throw out the bums in Washington are a lot less eager to throw out their own bum -- that is, the member of Congress who represents their home district. The local representative often gets a break because he or she is well-known and has done favors for lots of people back home.
When the Wall Street Journal and NBC News polled in mid-October, they found that voters nationwide said, by a 15-point margin, that they wanted this year's election to produce a Democratic-controlled Congress to replace the current Republican one. But when asked whether they preferred to stick with their own representative or give someone else a chance, the cry for change was more muted, with 45% wanting a new face and 39% saying they wanted to send their local representative back to Washington.
There is no doubt that Republicans are reeling. Although the Foley scandal has disappeared, the general distaste that was left with voters after that incident has remained, fermenting with the other GOP negatives (Iraq, corruption, etc. We all know them) all the while.
But will voters actually want to change anything? Let's face it; Americans are lazy and disengaged when it comes to politics. That means that they follow along with the latest trends before the election (The Dem bandwagon) while not really taking risks at the polls. This could translate into a midterm shocker, with the GOP holding on to Congress. But with voter anger apparently at a blisteringly high zenith, more voters are paying attention - bad news for GOPers. What they need is a distracted majority of voters while managing to fire up their conservative base. It happened in '04, giving the big win to W.
But what does all of this mean? It mean that this is a tough election to call. So many variables are present that the entire midterms could turn on a single development - like the Foley scandal. The Saddam verdict may even tip the scales. It's hard to put away the GOP when they have most of the cash, Karl Rove, and President Bush. That's why an upset on 11/7 is looking more and more likely.
But what will the Dems do if the Republicans manage to stave them off? I foresee the creation of a new and brilliant point of light in the political world: The "Barack!" Party. At least their choice for president in '08 will be obvious.