Friday, June 06, 2008

Electoral bloodbath for the Congressional Republicans in November? (Cook Report)

Anything can happen in 5 months, but the signs continue to accumulate that the Congressional Republicans are headed for an electoral catastrophe in November. There is more bad news for the Republicans in two recent items from the well-respected Cook Political Report.

In "A Punishing Mood" (May 24, 2008), Cook laid out the general picture, which looks bleak for the GOP:
At the outset of this election cycle, most political analysts did not anticipate a second consecutive big win in November for congressional Democrats for a number of reasons.

First, after voters have punished one party badly, they've usually gotten those hard feelings out of their system and either punish the other party or revert to a more typical "all politics is local" election. [....] But having taken away the Republicans' majorities in both chambers in 2006, why would voters decide to hammer them a second time? [....]

So there were numerous legitimate reasons for doubting that 2008 would turn out to be another big Democratic year. And, of course, we won't know until Election Night whether it will be. But the chances that November 4 will be terrific for Hill Democrats are rising, and the arguments against it are getting much less persuasive. Strong signs point toward a Democratic bonanza.

• Voters are clearly still very upset with Republicans and don't seem to have finished venting their spleens. [JW: I think we can all sympathize.] In a May 13-15 national survey of 1,014 likely voters by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg for the Democracy Corps, Democrats held a 14-point (54 percent to 40 percent) lead on the generic congressional ballot test. When told the likely nominees in a given district, voters still gave Democrats a 10-point advantage, 52 percent to 42 percent. These results are consistent with those from other national polls.

• Antipathy toward Bush has not abated. Indeed, in both this Democracy Corps survey and a recent National Public Radio poll conducted by Greenberg and Republican pollster Glen Bolger, the president's "strong disapproval" rating exceeded 50 percent, a jaw-dropping level of animosity.

• Although Congress has a terrible job-approval rating, this election isn't about it, at least so far.

• On the micro level, things look awful for the GOP. Five Republican senators are retiring while zero Democratic senators are. On the House side, 27 Republicans are leaving voluntarily compared with just eight Democrats. Meanwhile, Democratic House and Senate campaign committees are out-raising their GOP counterparts by astounding margins, meaning that Democrats will be able to pump a ton of money into far more races than the Republicans will.

The GOP's three consecutive special-election losses in heavily Republican districts have been enough to terrify Republican lawmakers on the House side of the Capitol. The fact that eight GOP Senate incumbents are in danger while only one Democratic senator is in any jeopardy, and that former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, has run 8 points ahead of appointed Republican Sen. Roger Wicker in back-to-back polls, should be enough to scare those Republican lawmakers on the Senate side as well.

In short, Republicans might get walloped again in November. The indications that they will are getting stronger and stronger. And the arguments that they won't are getting weaker and weaker.
Then, on June 5, following a number of Congressional primaries, the Cook Report identified no less than 10 more House seats where they think the Democrats' prospects look better than before:
· Primary Aftermath: Race Ratings Change in Ten Districts:
House Editor David Wasserman releases the latest updates for districts in which primaries were held on Tuesday, and explains what the conclusion of the Democratic presidential nomination fight may mean in several other districts across the country. We are changing our race ratings in ten districts where we believe Democratic chances of taking Republican-held seats have increased. With these changes, the GOP occupies 21 of the 27 seats now listed in the Toss Up column. To read more click here.
Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch, in my opinion.

At this point, prognostications for the Presidential election seem to be pretty de-linked from the Congressional prospects, and they seem to have their own complexities ... which can be put off to another discussion.

--Jeff Weintraub

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