Republicans In Trouble
November 7, 2005 - 12:34pm ET
Newt Gingrich. George Will. The American Enterprise Institute. These are just the latest icons of the right to weigh in on the conventional wisdom of the moment: Voters are not happy with the Republican Party.
The problem with having a monopoly on government lies in the fact that there's no one to blame when you screw up. And a chorus of pundits and pollsters has united around the notion that voters will hold Republicans accountable at the polls in next year's midterm elections for their handling of the war in Iraq, the economy, Katrina and internal corruption.
Let's review, shall we, the chorus opining about the Republican Party's woes? Just yesterday on CBS, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer opened the show with talk of "Republicans in trouble." On ABC's "This Week," George Will and Newt Gingrich shared their grim assessments of the GOP's ability to maintain its hold on power in the 2006 elections. Well, Will was grim, noting that most elections are won or lost a year before they're held. Gingrich conceded there were problems, but tried to put on a happy face—yammering robotically about the GOP's ability to rebound because it's the party of "reform," blah, blah, blah. In yesterday's Washington Post article reporting on "voter anger ," Gingrich sounded more negative.
Finally, there are signs that the scandal, cronyism and incompetence that in so many ways defines this Congress is beginning to irk the electorate. Today's Progress Report quotes AEI scholar Norm Ornstein on how the corruption scandal involving Jack Abramoff is "building to an explosion, one that could create immense collateral damage within Congress and in coming elections." (Philadelphia Inquirer, free req. req'd)
The empirical data backs up all the GOP pessimism. Democratic pollster Ruy Teixeira looks at recent polls and pronounces: "It seems fair to say that 2006 is shaping up to be a very rough year for the GOP."
And, summarizing a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, the Post writes:
One year before the 2006 midterm elections, Republicans are facing the most adverse political conditions of the 11 years since they vaulted to power in Congress in 1994. Powerful currents of voter unrest -- including unhappiness over the war in Iraq and dissatisfaction with the leadership of President Bush -- have undermined confidence in government and are stirring fears among GOP candidates of a backlash.
But, of course, Democrats can't just stand by gleefully while the GOP falls on its sword. A story on the same poll on ABCNews.com warns:
But perhaps the biggest challenge for the Democrats is differentiation: Even with their edge on issues, just 44 percent of Americans say the Democrats are offering the country a clear direction that's different from the Republicans. (And notably, just 38 percent of independents say so.) That suggests that the current state of play says more about Republican weaknesses than Democratic strengths.
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