Skip to comments.Republican Outlook For Midterms: Suddenly Dangerous
Posted on 07/19/2002 1:13:04 PM PDT by churchillbuff
July 18, 2002
Republican Outlook For Midterms: Suddenly Dangerous
While polling has not yet recorded a dramatic turn in public opinion against President Bush or the GOP, events of the past few weeks have substantially increased the likelihood that the 2002 midterm elections will resemble other midterms, when the president's party is on the defensive and suffers losses.
None of the individual business scandals or controversies surrounding Harken Energy or Halliburton alone would have been enough to damage the White House seriously. Enron had little or no partisan political fallout, though Democrats tried their best to demonize business and to connect the president and his party to the company's demise.
But, taken together, the recent rash of bad news - including a sinking stock market, concern about the economy's recovery, the demise of WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, and questions about administration officials' past business practices - is much more likely to affect the public opinion about the president.
Bush's overall strength in national polls has rested on public approval of his handling of international and security issues. His job approval numbers have generally tracked with public attitudes on his handling of the war on terrorism, not his handling of the economy.
As attention draws inward, to domestic issues in general and the economy in particular, voters are likely to reassess their evaluation of Bush. Self-identified Democrats are likely to become more partisan and more critical of his performance.
The risk for the Republicans is that some voters, even if they don't hold the president primarily responsible for their stock losses or for corporate fraud and mismanagement, will grow angry, frustrated or merely impatient with the negative news. If they do, they might decide to send a message of change to the president by voting against his party's candidates in November.
Even if GOP voters remain loyal to the president, all of the bad news could depress Republican turnout. And that could be enough to turn a neutral political election into a good Democratic year.
The fundamental problem for Bush is that for the next three and a half months he and his entire party could well be on the defensive, while Democratic candidates around the country press for more White House action and raise questions about the president's leadership.
For months, neither party has found a compelling message to move large numbers of voters. Democrats have been trying to recycle old issues that failed to deliver them a majority in the House in the past three elections. Social Security and prescription drug coverage, the two best Democratic issues, appear to have only limited appeal, especially since House Republicans passed their own prescription drug plan.
Republicans can claim legislative accomplishments, including the tax cut, education reform and airport security, but they have a relatively thin remaining agenda. GOP candidates for November have, so far, been stressing support for the president's leadership on the war on terrorism, but those hopefuls will have to come up with new campaign messages if domestic issues start to eclipse national security concerns among voters.
With accounting and business questions spooking Wall Street - and without a strong, highly regarded secretary of the Treasury (such as Robert Rubin) to calm investors and speak effectively for the administration - Bush has no easy answer to his developing political problems.
The anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks could give the president a breather from negative stories about domestic issues. And a stock market rally in the next few months and new evidence of a rebounding economy would, of course, relieve a great deal of pressure on the president and by implication on his party's candidates. But Bush cannot now assume that he is in control of the national agenda.
If Bush's job approval does drop and a generalized anxiety increases in the electorate, it could increase the number of Republican-held House seats in play this year and improve the prospects of Democratic candidates and open-seat hopefuls. That, in turn, would increase the odds of a Democratic net gain in November, including a gain large enough to win a House majority.
Still, the limited number of competitive House districts continues to cushion the GOP against major losses.
The impact of a "normal" midterm election on the fight for the Senate could be muted as well, though a weaker Bush couldn't be good news for Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Greg Ganske in Iowa, Jim Talent in Missouri, Tim Hutchinson in Arkansas and other Republican Senate candidates.
The bottom line is clear. Democratic prospects for House and Senate gains have improved in the past few weeks. And that should make the White House and the GOP campaign committees increasingly nervous.
A lot of freepers are wishing it won't be so, but common sense suggests otherwise.
While polling has not yet recorded a dramatic turn in public opinion against President Bush or the GOP,
events of the past few weeks have substantially increased the likelihood that the 2002 midterm elections will resemble other midterms, when the president's party is on the defensive and suffers losses.
Blatent speculation posing as "news."
The writer admits it's speculation - - - but a hunch based on experience and common sense. Do you REALLY think a stock market crash (which is the only way to describe the 20 percent - or more drop this year) isn't gonna affect a lot of people's outlooks. I, for one, was a big Bush backer - and will vote for him again if he's the GOP standard bearer in 04 - - but I'm disgusted at his paltry and slow-motion tax cuts, and his wimpiness on a hundred other issues.
Don't know what that means. I'm afraid a tanking stock market - which means disappearing 401-ks and IRAs - is gonna T-off a lot of voters against the GOP, or disspirit a lot of Republican voters, so they won't even turn up at the polls.
"Even if GOP voters remain loyal to the president, all of the bad news could depress Republican turnout. And that could be enough to turn a neutral political election into a good Democratic year"
substantially increased the likelihood
is much more likely
voters are likely
Democrats are likely
The risk for the Republicans is
If they do, they might decide
Even if GOP voters
could depress Republican turnout...
could be enough
could well be on the defensive
could give the president
would, of course, relieve
If Bush's job approval
it could increase
would increase the odds
could be muted
couldn't be good news
The bottom line is clear.
Do you really think this paragraph is Demo spin? Do you really believe that O'Neill is a substantial figure in any sense, or that any other Bush economic advisor commands attention or a calming influence on the nation? If so, you must be smoking greenbacks.
Midterm usually have dismal turnouts and not much changes. It's only when voters are motivated (1994 Congressional elections) that this swing occurs.
I think this is more of Mr. Rothenbergs wet dream than reality.
That's the stupidest thing I've read in a long time.
That's the stupidest thing I've read in a long time.
It will be spun by the democrats and the media as a further giveaway for "his rich buddies in business."
I'd still like him to do it, because its the right thing to do, but I'm not going to delude myself that it's a political can't-miss.
The safer political strategy is do nothing. And no matter what his efforts, "nothing" is the reality regarding the amount of tax cuts we'll see passed before November.
I think the GOP/Bush have a good case in saying they started the road to sanity by not allowing the graft and weasel tricks instituted under Sleazy Bill to continue, even if this brought down the market.
Hats off to Bush and his gang for having the guts and being willing to take the blame
Show charts of the stock market pre-election 1994 and post-election 1994.
The big boom in the economy and stock market for which Bill Clinton took credit only occurred AFTER the Republicans took control of Congress.
For his first two years, Clinton was floundering and the economy was like a ship without a rudder.
If Republicans would make this clearly transparent argument, they could make big gains in November.
No, because they are too lazy and too stupid and too gentle.
President Bush should make it an issue, because if he doesn't rally the base, his goose will be cooked in 2004.
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