There has been much made about the approval ratings of this do nothing congress. With many Republican members of both houses of Congress set to leave at the end of this session, it seems that the moniker could be put to rest and progress can be restored.
In the 2006 mid-term elections, the Democratic party won the majority of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994. Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised sweeping changes, many of which would supposedly be enacted within 100 hours of her opening gavel. However, what she found was George W. Bush and his recently discovered veto pen. Newly minted Senate majority leader was faced with a non-veto, filibuster proof majority on his side of the House.
Thus, since taking over the Democratic leadership has been unable to push much of their agenda through and Congress and has been attacked as being ineffective. According to a recent RealClearPolitics poll average, only 18 percent of the electorate approves of the 110th Congress as pundits of the Left and Right alike have cast aspersions on both houses. But all of that can change on Election Day.
There are indications that point to the Democrats gaining enough Senate seats for a super majority. Indeed, two of the biggest factors in whether Democrats reach a theoretical, party line 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate, is whether you start off with an assumption of them having 50; by not counting Joe Lieberman, or 51, with the Connecticut quasi-independent in the count; and whether Alaskan incumbent Ted Stevens is acquitted or convicted in his ongoing trial for not reporting personal gifts. There is a general assumption that if convicted, Stevens is likely to lose his re-election bid, and if acquitted, he more likely wins. However, given the unpredictable nature of the last couple of years in American politics, any assumption is foolhardy.
I cannot see the Senate elections turning out as anything but brutal for the GOP. It is a given that Democrats will pick up the open seats in Virginia. In New Mexico two Congressmen vacated their secure seats to run for the Senate seat of the retiring Pete Domenic. Republican nominee Bob Schaffer faces Democratic Congressman Mark Udall for the open seat in of retiring Tom Tancredo in Colorado. GOP incumbents John Sununu of New Hampshire and Gordon Smith in Oregon both appear to be running behind their Democratic opponents by a handful of points. With just three weeks left, it's hard to see how they recover, barring an unforeseen event. And there are potentially more GOP losses in store in the Senate.
Senator Elizabeth Dole is running a couple of points behind Democratic challenger Kay Hagan in North Carolina in a race that can go either way. Incumbent GOP Senators Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia are running slightly ahead of their Democratic challengers, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and former State Representative Jim Martin, respectively. Both of those races are considered toss ups. And in Minnesota, Senator Norm Coleman is locked in a highly competitive and volatile three-way race against Democrat Al Franken and Independence Party nominee Dean Barkley.
While it is very unlikely that Republicans will lose all of these Senate seats, anyone who doesn't think that one party can win just about all of the close races hasn't watched these things for very long and must not have been paying attention two years ago. And while things are looking bad on the Senate side for the GOP, the House may be even worse.
26 Republicans who have chosen to retire from the House this year, compared to 6 Democrats. One of them is the former chairman of the House Government Reform Committee and a man who ran the House Republican Campaign Committee for two elections, Virginia's Tom Davis. Republicans like Davis, a 14 year Congressman, have grown increasingly disenchanted with their own brand. In a 20 page memo he wrote last spring to the Republican leadership, citing the ineptitude of President Bush and the scandals of fellow members of Congress he warned: “Failure to fundamentally change the G.O.P. brand can lock us into a long period of minority status.” By Election day his words may prove prophetic.
In the House the Democrats could reach the possibly gain 30-seats. It is apparent that Republicans could be punished with such toxic political environments in two straight elections. In 2006, when they were in control of Congress, the war in Iraq and the aforementioned scandals cost them their majorities. Now the economy and credit markets are seizing up and Republicans are being hammered by being the party holding the White House. This is not likely to change so late in the game, barring some terrible October Surprise.
I predict it really will be a horrible night for the GOP, but a good night for America.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com