Provided the president doesn’t shoot the Republican base by ramming through the immigration bill, the next Congress will probably be Republican.
Here’s the tactical situation:
The Democratic Congress’ job approval score is now worse than President Bush’s, plummeting to 23 percent, a drop of eight points since April. House Democrats have been forced to retreat in the face of a furious assault by Republicans on pork-barrel spending, an issue that hurt the Republican Party in November. And Republican recruiting has produced plenty of candidates eyeing weak Democratic freshmen in Republican-leaning districts that swept them into office last year.
“Republican recruiting seems to be progressing at a reasonable pace. GOP strategists have about half a dozen seats that they know the party should never have lost … and eight of the nine most vulnerable House seats currently are held by Democrats,” elections analyst Stu Rothenberg wrote last week in his Political Report newsletter.
By next year Iraq will either be on the way to success (in which case the Republicans will benefit), or the Dems will have forced a pullout and a situation thousands times nastier than the Gaza fighting will fill the nation’s news bulletins for years. That’s a (lesser) Republican win.
The economy has shrugged off the real estate correction and continues to sustain low unemployment and high job creation. The weak dollar will only make that better.
The only credible Democratic presidential candidate is Clinton, but she’s awkwardly straddled the partisan divide on Iraq and will lose many of the millions of Dem core voters. The Republicans have three equally strong candidates to choose from.
The Dems in the Senate and House look, sound and act like losers – witness the above poll. Lieberman will jump ship when Iran commits its next horror and the US has to act. That means the slightest tilt to the Republicans in 2008 gives them the Senate. For the House, see above.
The presidential race is too early to call, but we know from Clinton’s terms that a Republican Congress can keep the nuttiest Dem on the straight and narrow.