I am not yet ready to predict that Republicans will retake the House of Representatives next fall, but if I were a betting man, I just might bet on their triumph. The odds may be long, but with independents increasingly moving away from the Democrats, the stars seem to be aligning for Republican victories next fall.
Looking at those numbers, Chris Stirewalt, Political Editor at the Washington Examiner says if Democrats “can’t find a way to get” those independents “back, the party could be in deep trouble for 2010 and beyond“:
More shocking is that independent voters now favor a Republican-controlled Congress by a four-point margin and would overwhelmingly like to see their own member of the House replaced.
Those are the kinds of numbers you see before electoral hurricanes like 1966 or 1994. And if independents are already at that point after so recently enduring the shoddy performance of the previous GOP majority, it’s a sign of real dissatisfaction. Democrats have grown very jittery about the congressional elections in 2010.
While Michael Barone is not as sanguine as the numbers might suggest, noting the difficult of predicting results in 435 individual races with many challengers yet unknown, he points out “that over the years generic vote questions have tended to understate the ultimate Republican percentage of the popular vote for the House“. Still, he pegs Republican chances at recapturing the House “at well below 50%.”
I grant it’s still early, but will make this one prediction: this is Nancy Pelosi’s last term as Speaker of the House. Should Republicans recapture Congress, of course, she’ll be out of the job, but even if Democrats manage to retain their majority, they will do so with diminished numbers; many in her caucus will be eager to cast her out.
Centrist Democrats are none too pleased with the way she’s been running the show:
Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed.
“She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.”
With “84 Democrats who represent districts won by either President George W. Bush in 2004 or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008”, no wonder she’s feeling the heat. Some of them are certain to be voted out by their constituents next fall, in a year when Republicans (and their allies) will be more energized to vote than the Democrats.
Whether that’s enough to recapture the majority is anybody’s guess. But, should enough of those centrists remain after the 2010 elections, they won’t be eager to keep in power the Speaker who nearly cost them their jobs. They’ll seek someone who’s not such a liberal firebrand and thus less of a lightning rod, less likely to draw voters’ ire to herself and by extension to members of the caucus that elected her.