Time: Republicans on the Run
Never underestimate the band wagon effect in politics–there are many voters who just want to vote for the winner. Articles such as in this week’s Time could help increase momentum towards Democrats even further:
If the midterm elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives
Taking control of the House does mean many people will not only have to support Democrats generically as the party they want in power. They will actually have to vote out their one Republican representative, generally in districts made safe for the incumbent. Time found that “given the choice between a generic Republican and a generic Democrat for Congress, the nameless Democrat won, 50% to 41%” but “63% of respondents said they approved of the job their local lawmaker was doing.”
Fortunately the degree of dissatisfaction with Republican rule has placed many seats in play. “The danger signs for Republicans show up across the electoral map but nowhere more clearly than in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where the hottest Senate race in the country is being fought and where Republican strategists say as many as five g.o.p. congressional seats are in play, out of a total 19.”
The Republicans running are also faced with having their party led with the man who is most likely the worst President in United States history, whose policies have done harm which the nation will likely be spending the next couple of decades attempting to repair. While some candidates are attempting to distance themselves from George Bush, others fear this plan will backfire:
But party leaders are warning privately against taking that strategy too far. “If Diet Coke criticizes Coke, people buy Pepsi, not Diet Coke,” said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee. In an internal Republican Party memo provided to Time, Jan van Lohuizen, a longtime Bush pollster, warns candidates tempted to distance themselves that “President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the ‘08 nomination. If he drops, we all drop.” Another Republican strategist describes the problem for g.o.p. candidates this way: “Adding weight to the anchor doesn’t help them.”
While Republicans, lacking real arguments, campaign with the bogus argument that Democrats have no ideas, Democratic sources are outlining their plans should they take control of the House:
Those sources said one of the first steps that a newly installed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would take would be to introduce legislation making college tuition more affordable for middle-class families, perhaps through tax credits and lower interest rates on student loans. Democrats would move immediately to tighten port security, seeking to have 100% of incoming container cargo inspected. A Democratic official briefed on the plans said the party would quickly push a bill designed to inhibit future lobbying scandals. The sources said Democrats would push for changes to the troubled Medicare prescription-drug plan, giving more control to Medicare and less to private providers and striking the provision that prevents the government from negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies.
The most important difference may be the ability of Congress to hold the Executive Branch accountable. Republicans are trying to get out their vote by using scare tactics, warning that “everything will grind to a halt.”
But Democrats say that if they are victorious in November, they plan to force Bush to be more accountable, and they intend to dig through records of contracts in Iraq, for homeland security and for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California, one of the most dogged critics of the Administration, would be in line to chair the House Government Reform Committee and could write witness lists instead of open letters to the West Wing.