As I posted earlier this morning, the latest NPR poll shows both Obama and the Democratic party’s majority in congress on a downhill slide. Adding to worries for the Obama Administration, the headline at Politico this morning reads Backlash: Democratic Dangers Mount, and writers Charles Mahtesian and Josh Kraushaar are hoisting red flags:
Democrats giddy with possibilities only six months ago now confront a perilous 2010 landscape signaled by troublesome signs of President Barack Obama’s political mortality, the plunging popularity of many governors and rising disquiet among many vulnerable House Democrats.
The issue advantage has shifted as well, with Democrats facing the brunt of criticism about the pace of stimulus package spending, anxiety over rising unemployment rates and widespread uneasiness over the twin pillars of Obama’s legislative agenda: his cap-and-trade approach to climate change and the emerging health care bill.
Bolstered by historical trends that work in the GOP’s favor — midterm elections are typically hostile to the party in power — and the prospect of the first election in a decade without former President George W. Bush either on the ballot or in office, Republicans find themselves on the offensive for the first time since 2004.
None of this is to say that the Democratic congressional majorities are in serious jeopardy. The GOP has suffered some significant setbacks, ranging from headline-grabbing personal indiscretions to Sen. Arlen Specter’s party switch, and it continues to be plagued by an inability to present its own new ideas.
Yet the possibilities GOP officials now imagine are a dramatic shift from the bleak prospects that the 2010 midterm elections presented for the party at the beginning of the year.
Back then, the newly elected president was fresh off a sweeping victory and riding a wave of inaugural goodwill. The Republican Party’s standing had seemingly hit rock bottom in the polls. The enormous Democratic House majority looked unassailable, and the party’s advantage in the Senate looked nearly as formidable, with the GOP forced to defend more Senate seats in total in 2010 than Democrats — a predicament exacerbated by a handful of Republican retirements in key battleground states.
“There’s a sense building among Republicans that 2010 is going to be a far better political environment than 2008 or 2006,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “Part of that is because we have a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Senate and House that are promoting fiscally dangerous policies for the future of the country. Part of it is we don’t have the burden of Iraq as we did in 2006 and don’t have the economy on the Republicans’ watch as we had in 2008.”
In one sign of the reconfigured landscape, Republican candidates lead in the polls in this fall’s closely watched gubernatorial elections — in New Jersey and Virginia. In New Jersey, where first-term Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine trails his challenger by double digits, a far-reaching corruption investigation has led to the resignation of one member of Corzine’s Cabinet and insider speculation about whether Corzine should be replaced on the ticket in November by a more viable Democratic nominee.
Mahtesian and Kraushaar go on to describe in further detail the potential downside for the Republicans in 2010, but their red flags for the Dems still bristle across the landscape; and over at On the Trail, (the National Journal), bipartisan Amy Walter makes similar points. Walter’s post is titled A Regional Party No More and subtitled Far From Being Relegated To The South, The GOP Is Showing Signs Of Life In Democratic Strongholds. Walter writes:
Despite the ongoing hand-wringing among many Republican insiders and pundits about the fate of the party in the Obama age, a mini-resurgence of the moderate GOP brand is quietly taking place in the Northeast.
In almost every state north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Democratic officeholders are struggling and a GOP candidate is polling well. In places like New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, there are signs that moderate Republicans, once considered extinct, are reappearing. Like any endangered creature, they went underground until a better climate appeared.
So it goes. My recommendation to Democratic Party leaders in my previous post stands. So-called liberals are advised to repent of your misdeeds in your fraudulent 2008 primary and convention, rigged to assure an Obama victory; own up to the sexism and misogyny you displayed in your treatment of the better qualified Hillary Clinton; and publicly apologize to voters; only then will you stand a chance of regaining the respect of the American people.