Is it too early to start speculating about the midterm elections in 2006? Not if you’re a political junkie! Specifically, let’s focus on the Senate and this piece of trivia, courtesy of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball:
Never in modern times has a president been able to add Senate seats in the dreaded sixth-year election. Of course, look at George W. Bush's remarkable electoral record so far. Sooner or later, there's always a first time for every mark in the record book.Sabato points out that the average loss for the President’s party in the sixth-year is three Senate seats. Thus, even if the Republican lose only a couple of seats, the White House can still spin it as a minor victory. But can the GOP actually pick up seats in the Senate? Jayson over at Polipundit thinks so, estimating a net pickup of one seat in 2006. And here’s the long view from Michael Barone:
In the long run, Republicans are well positioned to increase their numbers in both the Senate and the House. Some Democrats hold seats because of personal popularity or moderate voting records. But when they retire, Republicans may well succeed them. In the short run, very few Republicans run great political risks by supporting Bush. Significantly more Democrats run great political risks by opposing him. Obstruction doesn't work well for Democrats in Bush seats: Just ask former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. And at the moment, on Social Security, as Democrats Stan Greenberg and James Carville wrote last month, “Voters are looking for reform, change and new ideas, but Democrats seem stuck in concrete.”It’s for this reason that, at this juncture, I agree with Jayson that this could be the first instance where a second-term President picks up Senate seats. Forget about the red state-blue state demographics. The fundamental problem for the Democratic party is that they are a party adrift, with no ideological moorings except for blind obstructionism. Today the Boston Globe carried an article of such a comic Pollyannaish quality, at first I swore it was a parody. Titled “Foes cite progress vs. Bush agenda,” it portrayed the efforts of the Democrats to block everything as – bizarrely – a sign of “progress.”
''The Democratic caucus has never been as unified, and you've seen it on Social Security, the budget, and judges," said Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada. ''It took a while for us to realize that we weren't in the majority. I think, though, we have learned the lesson well. And we have also learned that the majority party won't be in the majority forever."The Republicans have been in control of Congress for ten years now.
Democrats acknowledge the strategy carries the risk that members will be viewed as obstructionists, focused on what they can stop instead of what they can accomplish. Republicans hope to use Democratic opposition as a weapon in 2006 elections, and Bush still has time in his second term to guide his priorities into law.As Peggy Lee once sang: “Is that all there is?” Is this the anemic state of the party that once gave us the Cross of Gold and the New Frontier? Now comes a modern rallying cry for the new “block” party: “Holding up legislation for America.” I find it hard to believe that Americans will support a party so drained of ideas that it derives self-esteem from mindless obstructionism.