Published on TheHill.com on January 12, 2010
Pessimism is no more attractive in a party leader than it is in a high school cheerleader. And in the case of Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele, it is unwarranted as well. Despite his prediction, on Fox News, that GOP congressional control will not come “this year”, the Republican Party has a very, very good chance of taking both houses of Congress in 2010.
We are in the midst of a political tsunami. To judge that the water will only ascend a hundred feet or two hundred or three hundred is entirely speculative. Generally, once these things start, they go further than anyone would have thought likely. Only rarely do they fall short.
President Barack Obama’s determination to march ahead with his full socialist agenda, including the imposition of a healthcare system a majority doesn’t want, can only strengthen the winds and the tide that is approaching. The 60-vote Democratic Senate majority is empowering such arrogance and disdain for the democratic process that it is easy to see how it will trigger an equal and opposite reaction in the 2010 elections.
The tsunami of 2010 is qualitatively different from the other slaughters of incumbents that took place in 1994 or 1974 or 1964. In those years, one party overstepped its bounds and the other exploited its rival’s vulnerability. They were classic instances of the voters correcting for the excessive liberalism, conservatism or dishonesty of the incumbent regime.
But 2010 is different. It is not only that Obama is too liberal or that the Democrats have given us unemployment that won’t end, a deficit that won’t shrink, a newfound vulnerability to terrorism after seven safe years and a healthcare system a majority abhors.
2010 will be a unique year because voters have seen the myth of the moderate Democrat exposed. There is no longer any such animal. No moderate or conservative voter can rest on the assumption that his congressman or senator will stand firm for his values in the face of party pressure. The sweep of 2010 will be due as much to this intellectual insight as to any other cause, and this will make it even more powerful.
In the House, party switches have already won the Republicans one seat and more are likely to follow. Among open seats, Republicans will probably lose two and the Democrats six, reducing their margin to 35.
Then there are 28 Democrats who might lose who come from districts won by McCain. Seventeen are very vulnerable and 11 others somewhat less so.
But even these 11 longtime incumbents may find that their constituents cannot be bought by earmarks nor deluded into voting for what they are told is a “conservative” Democrat.
Eight Democrats – six of them freshmen – come from districts McCain narrowly lost and they narrowly won. And 11 others – three of them freshmen – are only slightly less vulnerable.
Republicans need to defeat 35 of these 47 Democrats to take control. Not a task that is at all beyond reach.
In the Senate, the Republicans will easily hold all their open seats except for Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire. Since Missouri went for McCain, count it likely to send Rep. Roy Blunt to the Senate. Since Ohio is the quintessential swing state, it is hard to see how it does not go Republican as well. In New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte, the Republican, looks to be ahead, although the state is too Democratic to regard her as safe.
Democrats look to lose at least five seats: in Delaware, Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota and Colorado. But in a tsunami, Republicans would likely pick up Illinois and Pennsylvania (with or without an Arlen Specter retirement or a loss in the primary), too. Four to go.
Despite Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s appeal and his state’s liberalism, the Chris Dodd seat cannot be considered safe in this kind of year. Nor can California’s Barbara Boxer take victory over Carly Fiorina for granted.
For the remaining two seats, the Republicans need strong candidates in Indiana, Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin and against Kirsten Gillibrand in New York.
A strong candidate can be born or made. Even a relatively weak newcomer can gather strength from the kind of tsunami working its way toward Washington. The irresistible numbers of a GOP landslide make all of these seats winnable.