2006 Chances Rest On Correctly Assessing What Lies Ahead
There are some facts that we must accept no matter how well things look this fall for the Democrats. First, the GOP is much better at targeting voters and getting them to turn out locally by pushing just the right buttons. Secondly, the GOP does this with a very narrow range of issues that are tailored for each voter, rather than the Democrats’ usual laundry list of policy-driven appeals aimed at broader groups. Third, there will be a lot of late money coming in for GOP House and Senate candidates from the RNC, even though the DSCC and DCCC have done a great job in erasing the typical GOP fundraising advantage this year. Fourth, thanks to bipartisanly-supported gerrymandering, there are fewer seats up for grabs than there were back in 1994. Fifth, the GOP controls the election machinery in many close House races this fall, and there will be plenty of opportunities for the Republicans to outright steal races once again. Sixth, the GOP will dump thousands in negative ads against Democratic challengers in the last four weeks of the campaign. And seventh, many GOP incumbents will simply try and convince voters after years of kissing Bush’s ass that they aren’t a lockstep supporter of his.
That being said, both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post noted today that the GOP is feeling pessimistic about its chances to hold the House, and the Post gets two GOP consultants to anonymously confirm that they probably won’t. Whether this is the usual lowering of expectations so that they can be exceeded later, or a genuine assessment we do not know. What we do know is that the Democrats seemingly want to back their way into the majority next year with a simple broad-based indictment that we can longer afford one party control enabled by a rubber stamp Congress that has abdicated its checks and balances oversight of the chief executive. But unless Democrats spend the next eight weeks reminding voters how supportive the GOP incumbent has been of Bush and all the wrong decisions that have been enabled by that lockstep support, the case for change may be blunted.
Also, the GOP is hoping that a surge of good news from Iraq will provide a lift to Bush's approval ratings late in the campaign and therefore lift all GOP incumbents. To that end, Newsweek reports that an updated National Intelligence Estimate from John Negroponte on Iraq is due soon, and the advance look paints a very bad picture that would undercut those GOP hopes. Which is why no one should think for a moment that the NIE will see the light of day between now and November. Democrats should be all over that, and set the frame that any delay in the release of that report is nothing more than a political cover-up.