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« Arnold Plays Hardball With California Liberals. | WILLisms.com | An Early Look At Potential 2008 Presidential Candidates: Part One- Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. »

2006 Could Confirm New Political Trends, Benefiting Republicans.

Last week, WILLisms.com examined the prospects for Congressional elections in 2006.

Today, Brandon Miniter, in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, notes that,

"There's no reason 2006 has to be an off year for Republicans.... winning on Social Security, tax and tort reform will leave Republicans on favorable political ground, much the way FDR set the stage for Democrats to control Congress for decades."

In the 20th century, off-year elections (elections with no presidential race) tended to hurt the party in control of the White House, sometimes quite intensely.

Click for larger version:
midterms.gif
Graphic, from "Marketing Parties in a Candidate Centered Polity: The Republican Party, George W. Bush and the 2004 Presidential Election," by Peter N. Ubertaccio, found here in .pdf format.

Miniter notes:

"Yet conventional wisdom--even when backed up by historical trends--isn't always the best predictor of future events. There's actually a reasonable chance that the Republican will pick up seats in next year's elections. After all, the last time the off-year election rule held was in 1994--when Bill Clinton was pushing an unpopular plan to nationalize much of the health-care industry.

....

Democrats clearly hope that Social Security turns out to be Mr. Bush's HillaryCare--the big policy fumble that will hand them control of Congress."

If Democrats block Social Security reform (and as of today, the only likely way that could happen is through filibuster in the Senate), it would be their Jonestown, not their 1994. If Senators from the party of Howard Dean, up for reelection in 2006 in Republican-leaning or Republican-trending states, drink the Kool-Aid Harry Reid is serving up right now, they will have at least been warned.

In fact, let this comment, right here, right now, for all the world to see, be the warning to Democrats in Republican-leaning areas:

IF YOU BLOCK SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, YOU'LL SOON FACE YOUR OWN COMPULSORY RETIREMENT.

Was that ominous?

It was meant to be ominous.

How about this:
compulsoryretirement.gif

Better?

Good.

Miniter explains that, while the Senate outlook is very promising for Republicans, the House shows a lot of potential, as well:

"...there aren't very many unsafe Republicans seats left in the House. Meanwhile there are Democrats who could be picked off. One is Chet Edwards, whose district includes Mr. Bush's Crawford ranch. Mr. Edwards won with just 51% of the vote last year.

district17map.gif

Indeed, Chet Edwards is only one of many potentially vulnerable Democrats in the House. And with the albatrosses of Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean around their necks, House Democrats from relatively conservative districts may be in for the toughest fights of their political lives in 2006.

chet.gif

With no pesky presidential election to worry about, it seems perfectly reasonable that President Bush might want to take down as many of the anti-reform Representatives opposing his initiatives, such as Chet Edwards, as he can. If 2002 is any indication, George W. Bush will devote himself to campaigning on behalf of Republicans in close Congressional races--- and he'll have success.

If, in 2006, Republicans gain seats in Congress, it will mark the third straight off-year election the party in control of the White House will have won (1998 was good for Democrats, 2002 for Republicans). A new trend, perhaps?

Not likely.

More likely, it is merely a new equilibrium in American politics, a completion of the still-ongoing Republican realignment. Afterall, the last time a president had the kind of coattails George W. Bush has, his party went on to control Congress for more than a generation.

WILLisms.com will continue to follow this and other emerging political stories, so stay tuned.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 February 2005 06:10 AM

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