We can see in hindsight how incumbent parties get blamed and creamed in federal elections, as Republicans did in 1932 during the Depression and Democrats did in 1994 after the failure of health care. We rarely see disaster in advance. But with 13 months to go, current trend lines indicate that a perfect storm is gathering force and will likely decimate Republican strength in federal and state races in November 2008.
Not one but four separate seismic events together will - short of another terrorist attack or a new war against Iran - alter the electoral terrain of America.
Iraq: Consider the numbers: Opinion polls show that consistent majorities of 70% want the war to end soon and 60% believe Bush misled us into this conflict. When asked which party can best handle Iraq, it was Democrats by 49% to 34% in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. This is undeniably the Republicans' war.
What exactly can GOP candidates say next fall in the face of no WMD, no link between Saddam and 9/11, no flowers for "liberators," nearly 5million Iraqis displaced, tens of thousands of American dead or wounded as well as some 100,000 Iraqis killed - not to mention an increase in terrorism worldwide? "Give us more time" for a war that's lasted longer than World War II?
The Economy: Most economic forecasters are predicting a one-in-two chance of a recession due to the foreclosure crisis leading to a credit crisis. Even if there's no recession but merely a slowdown, incumbent parties historically lose seats and the White House when economic growth falls below 3% in the election year.
At the same time, the Bush administration's record on spending and deficits - turning a projected $5.6 trillion surplus into huge deficits - is dividing the GOP's own business base, according to the Wall Street Journal last week. When asked which party would better maintain prosperity, it's now Democrats by 54%-34%, according to Gallup.
Intolerance: The GOP claiming to be the "party of Lincoln" is a pretense long beyond its expiration date. Bush's small gain in the black vote from 8% in 2000 to 11% in 2004 helped achieve his narrow victory. But the recent refusal of leading Republican presidential candidates to attend key black, Latino and gay debates prodded former vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp to complain, "We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us."
It won't suffice any longer for 2008 convention organizers to put minority delegates on the stage, hoping pictures will substitute for policy.
Children: President Bush made good on his threat to veto the expansion of the S-CHIP program to extend health insurance to another 4 million children, notwithstanding the support of 43 governors and overwhelming public approval. He complains that such a move would socialize health care. But will he now end Medicare and Medicaid? It approaches political suicide to elevate the rhetoric of free market fundamentalism over the reality of millions of children lacking health insurance.
Pro-war, anti-growth, anti-minority, anti-child. Not a formula for success. Then several other realities combine to dig Republicans into an even deeper hole. Democrats are now more trusted on nearly every domestic and foreign policy issue. The number of Americans who self-identify as Republican is at a seven-year low. And then there's the fact that Republicans are defending 22 Senate seats in 2008 compared to 12 for the Democrats.
Adding it all up: Look for Democrats to end up with a near filibuster-proof 58 Senate seats (up from 51) and 260 House seats (up from 213 in 2005).
For when there's a tidal wave of sentiment, it doesn't tip some close contests but nearly all close contests. What John Kenneth Galbraith said of Black Monday 1932 is true for the GOP today: "The end had come, but it was not yet in sight." By MARK GREEN on October 15, 2007
Click to view image: '111172-asshandedgop.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|