Cook Checks the Landscape
Here's some excerps from Charlie Cook's Column today:
It is a virtual certainty that Republicans will lose House and Senate seats in the Nov. 7 midterm elections.
The question is whether those losses will be small (single digits in the House, one or two in the Senate), medium (10-14 in the House, three-to-five in the Senate), large (15-20 in the House, six in the Senate, with control shifting in both chambers) or extra large (more than 20 in the House, seven or eight in the Senate).
Today, based on both national polls and looking at individual races, the answer can be said to be fluctuating between medium and large, with the Senate somewhat less likely to turn over than the House. But a Senate switch is still very plausible.
Keeping in mind that people were giving Bush terrible ratings on handling the economy even when it was growing at an impressive rate in the first quarter of 2006, one wonders what it will be like with a GDP growth rate of 3.2 percent, as most economists forecast, and below 3 percent in the third quarter, as many fear? Will people take a still dimmer view of Bush's stewardship in office and will it hurt his party even more? Or will they see it as confirmation of what they had already concluded and therefore make little difference at the polls?
Arguably one key ingredient as to whether these losses will be on the small or medium side -- allowing Republicans to keep their majorities -- or large or extra large -- putting Democrats in power in one or both chambers -- will be the extent voters attach ownership of the Iraq war to Bush.
The polls are very clear about public attitudes toward the decision to go to war. In the NBC/WSJ poll, 41 percent agreed with the decision to attack Iraq and 53 percent disagreed. Also, 38 percent said they were more confident about the war reaching a successful conclusion and 53 percent felt less confident.
For much of last fall, the focus was on the decision to invade Iraq, and the use (or misuse) of intelligence to support the decision to invade. This month, an average of 100 Iraqi civilians have been killed each day, hardly a sign of stability or progress. At the same time, the Iraq war's cost to U.S. taxpayers has surpassed $1,000 for every man, woman and child.
It's pretty safe to say that if the election focus is on the decision to go to war, it would certainly boost Democratic chances of getting the large or extra-large gains, and a majority on one or both sides of the Capitol Dome.