Republican Bloodbath Coming?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Trader5287, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. Military and absentees start voting in another month. Dems don't even need a message - Reps and Congress are so hated they can just ride the Throw The Rascals Out sentiment.

    From Bloomberg --

    Democrats See Victory in U.S. House Races, Senate Within Reach
    Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Charles Rangel and Chairman -- again -- John Dingell. Those titles will soon sound familiar.

    Barring an unexpected and big event, Democrats will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November and conceivably the Senate, too. Whether it's a tsunami or just a powerful wave, the political dynamics are moving in that direction, or more accurately, against the Republicans and President George W. Bush.

    Democratic insiders, who months ago thought their chances of winning a majority in the House were no better than even, and that the Senate was a lost cause, have become far more optimistic. Now, they say, winning the House is a lock, and the Senate is within reach.

    ``We have to go back to 1974 (during Watergate) to find such a favorable environment,'' says James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. ``If we can't win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party.''

    More telling is that the smartest Republican political minds agree. ``The issue matrix and political dynamics are not good for us,'' says Representative Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican. ``Only some big national or international event before the election can change that.''

    `People Are Angry'

    Bill McInturff, the pre-eminent Republican pollster who sees survey data from all over the country, isn't any more sanguine. ``The national mood is like that of sweep elections,'' he says. ``People are angry about Iraq, about gas prices, about health care.''

    Privately, Republican congressional leaders are bracing to lose 20 to 30 House seats -- more than the net 15 gain that Democrats need to take control of that chamber -- and to barely hold on to their Senate majority.

    Still, the likely Democratic victory will have minimal significance for the 2008 presidential race and probably for legislation in the next Congress as well. The 1994 Republican landslide was followed by Clinton's re-election two years later; Democratic successes in the 1982 and 1986-off year elections were followed by two embarrassing rejections in the next presidential elections.

    ``On Nov. 7, people don't have to say they're for Hillary Clinton; all they say is they're angry,'' McInturff says.


    Even with a slight Democratic majority, the next Congress is likely to be just as stalemated on big issues such as reducing taxes or overhauling entitlement programs like Social Security. With Bush wielding a veto pen, Democrats aren't going to enact any important domestic initiatives.

    The most important difference -- and the reason the White House desperately hopes to avoid a Democratic House -- will be much more aggressive oversight. With tough lawmakers like Dingell of Michigan and Henry Waxman of California setting oversight agendas, defense contractors such as Halliburton Co., eavesdroppers at the national security and intelligence agencies and anti-environmentalists at the Interior Department will be in for a rough few years.

    To win the six seats necessary for a Senate majority, Democrats need a perfect political storm that even a tsunami may not produce. There is, party strategists believe, a good chance to knock off five Republican incumbents; any other victory would be a real upset, and Republicans are competitive for several Democratic-held Senate seats.

    Not Playing Defense

    The dynamics are different in the House. On a seat-by-seat analysis, there are three-dozen potentially vulnerable Republicans. Conversely, there are fewer than a handful of endangered Democrats. ``They are not playing much defense,'' laments Republican Congressman Davis.

    The Democrats enjoy a couple of other tactical advantages. One is that their Senate and House campaign committees have been remarkably successful in raising money; Republicans will enjoy less of a financial advantage than usual.

    Another is that in several states where three or four House seats are closely contested -- New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- a top-of-the-ticket sweep by strong candidates such as Eliot Spitzer, who's running for governor in New York, and Hillary Clinton, who's going for re-election in the Senate, may be decisive.

    Moreover, if there is a national tide, the Democrats will win seats that aren't on anyone's radar screens today. ``There are going to be some people in Washington, D.C., next January that no one's ever heard of,'' Carville predicts.

    October Surprise?

    To be certain, the party's confidence is occasionally tempered by the realities of recent elections. At a private gathering sponsored by Democratic House Leader Pelosi for some of the party's biggest givers in California early this month, there was a palpable sense that Karl Rove and the White House will engineer some ``October surprise.''

    And Republicans, with a better get-out-the-vote system, generally tend to close better in American elections. But October surprises usually are the invention of summer nervous nellies; the public mood, not organization, will shape this year's elections.

    In the House, the Democrats nevertheless probably will only win about half the seats they did in the 1974 landslide, when they picked up 48, or that the Republicans won in 1994, 52. In part, this is because of a bipartisan redistricting scam that has resulted in many congressional districts being politically non- competitive. Nowhere is this more evident than in the South, which has seen an unusual alliance of Republicans and African- American Democrats redrawing congressional districts.

    Dominant in South

    The number of Southern black representatives, all Democrats, has jumped to 16 from just two 20 years ago. Yet Republicans now hold an 82-49 overall advantage in these 11 states, reversing the Democrats 73-43 edge of two decades ago.

    The upshot is that even on a banner day, Democrats expect to pick up a net of fewer than a half-dozen seats in the South this November.

    The gains in the Northeast and Midwest, however, should be easily sufficient to carry the day. That would return political normalcy to America: divided government. The Republican dominance of the White House and Congress for most of the past six years is the most concentrated control by one party in Washington since the days of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

    To contact the writer for this analysis: Al Hunt in Washington at .

    Last Updated: August 28, 2006 00:10 EDT