October 13, 2005


Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form (ROBIN TONER, 10/13/05, NY Times)

Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

Except that they're the reactionary party and the defenders of the New Deal/Great Society status quo, as revealed in this story which contains not a single change that they actually favor. And the danger for them is that were they to offer alternatives to the President's proposals for things like SS and tax reform they'd be giving up the unity that mere opposition always provides and be stuck with the tiny minority that their own proposals can garner. The funniest part oif the '06 mid-term is going to be that change will be the platform the President and the GOP puts forward, not the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 13, 2005 9:19 AM

Replace "2006" with "2004" or "2002" and alter a few of the side issues, and this story could be indistinguishable from stories run by the Times two and four years ago.

Posted by: John at October 13, 2005 9:46 AM

John, you beat me to it.

Posted by: BC Monkey at October 13, 2005 10:14 AM

Traditionally, the party in the White House gets its butt kick in second term off year congressional elections. There is no reason why 2006 will be any different. Besides, the American people as a whole LIKE the New Deal/Great Society status quo - or at least they won't elect any candidate or party that will actually gut it or chop it down in any significant way.

Posted by: Anon at October 13, 2005 11:00 AM

Anon - tradition dictated the GOP would lose seats in '02 and '04 - didn't happen. There have been analyses that shown only about 10-20 House seats actually may change hands - not enough to give Dems the House reins. As for the Senate there are many more Dem retirements/red state Dems in play than there are GOPs which may be knocked off.

Finally, as OJ keeps pointing out, if the Dems keep taking the 30% position on issues they won't gain any seats.

Posted by: AWW at October 13, 2005 11:07 AM

There is no reason why 2006 will be any different.

Except the 2002 mid-term elections, where the Republicans gained seats in the House & Senate.

Posted by: Twn at October 13, 2005 11:07 AM

There are still Senate seats that are rightfully Red in the Blue column--that alone will drive the mid-term.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 11:41 AM

Senate - GOP has a good shot at picking up MN,MD, and FL (poll cited yesterday) and a less probable chance of picking up WV, MI, WA, VT. Only GOP seat in trouble right now is PA.

Posted by: AWW at October 13, 2005 12:15 PM

Bush's poll numbers have been in slow & steady decline since 9/11. The only significant bump he got was in summer & fall of 2004 when people realized that the choice was between him & Kerry. Also, of course, polls at this time don't try to capture "likely voters" so they tell you exactly nothing about what might happen during the next election (a cynic might even think that much of the media is going out of their way to try to demoralize Republicans). It's easy to say "I don't really like the direction of things" (which tells you nothing about what they don't like about the direction), but when faced with a binary choice, the R column will do just fine.

Posted by: b at October 13, 2005 12:30 PM

In 2002 Bush was still riding high in the polls. What congressional Republicans fear is the president's declining popularity pulling them down too.

Prediction: In 2006 Dems regain control of the House while the GOP keeps control of the Senate (and maybe gain a few seats). We're back to divided government - as the Founding fathers intended.

Posted by: Anon at October 13, 2005 1:14 PM

Annon, wishing doesn't make it so, and the Dems have nothing to offer but obstructionism. That didn't work for Daschel and I doubt it will work now.

Posted by: Mikey at October 13, 2005 1:27 PM

No doubt the Dems have problems of their own, but the GOP is running scared (Philly Inquirer article by way of Free Republic):


Matthew Continetti, a conservative analyst who is writing a book about the Republican Party, said Friday: "The scandals we're facing are the consequences of being in power so long. Establishments attract ne'er-do-wells. The question we face is, do we want to continue along the same road? During the 2008 primaries, there will be reform candidates making the argument that 'we need to return to our ideals.' " As for Bush, "you'll see people distancing themselves from him even more. This President is becoming weaker by the day." Here's the distancing process in action: Top Republicans in four states - West Virginia, North Dakota, Florida and Michigan - have spurned the administration's attempts to sign them up as challengers to four Democratic senators up for reelection in 2006. And this year, in the reliably red state of Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore has conspicuously neglected to enlist Bush's help on the stump. Republican unrest also is evident in Georgia, which is girding for an establishment-vs.-outsider clash in 2006. The establishment figure is Ralph Reed, the former Bush strategist and ex-religious-right leader who worked with indicted lobbyist Abramoff on lucrative casino-gambling ventures. The outsider is State Sen. Casey Cagle, who is trying to paint Reed as a tainted insider. They will compete in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor, a bellwether race that could help the presidential candidates assess the depth of grassroots opposition to the Bush establishment. At the moment, however, it is conservative fallout from the Miers nomination that has roiled the waters for 2008. Many conservatives voted for Bush last November expecting he would move the high court sharply to the right. But Miers' blank slate has prompted widespread outrage - and it's noteworthy that Brownback, who is openly courting social and religious conservatives as he maps an '08 bid, declared Thursday that he might oppose Miers even if Bush personally asked him for a yes vote.

All presidencies go sour in the second term.

Posted by: Anon at October 13, 2005 1:40 PM


You know how many House districts W carried in '04 even when he'd squandered his popularity in the Iraqi quagmire? It's a conservative country, as the Founders intended.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 1:43 PM


Continetti of the Weekly Standard? Does he even know that McCain lost?

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 1:48 PM

The Democrats are very good at hitting their peak in odd-numbered years. Looking at the landscape today gives you no inkling what it will look like in a year, though I predict that it will be scattered with skull fragments after a spurt of head-explosions hits the Left and National Review following the positive ruling on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, with a widely quoted concurrence by Justice Miers.

Posted by: Timothy at October 13, 2005 2:09 PM

Congressional candidates usually get a coat tail effect from a re-elected president, as they did in 2004. Off year elections are a different kettle of fish.

And the Philly Inquiere article is dead on accurate, GOP candidates are putting distance between themselves and the president. Look for the GOP to lose the House next year.

Posted by: Anon at October 13, 2005 2:22 PM


The GOP hasn't even captured all the seats yet that are naturally Repblican:


They could lose a few in '06 but will just regain them and more in '08.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 2:32 PM

A trio of hurricanes in mid-October next year, aimed at the east side of New Orleans, Pasadena, Texas and Elizabeth, New Jersey, would be the Democrats' best campaign tool for the 2006 election. Now if they can only get ahold of Karl Rove's weather machine...

Posted by: John at October 13, 2005 2:46 PM

Anon - tell you what. Let's see if the GOP picks up the Virginia and New Jersey governorships in a month (which appears a strong possibility) and holds the New York Mayor spot by a landslide (which is what will probably happen) and then tell me how the GOP is falling apart.

Senate - there are more Dem seats at risk that GOP. House - a study showed after the '04 election if all districts won by Bush were held by GOP the GOP would have 10-20 more seats.

Predicting disaster (or big things) for a party over a year away from election is a waste of time. Remember how the GOP was going sweep all of the Dems out of office in '98 due to the Lewisky scandal?

Posted by: AWW at October 13, 2005 2:50 PM

Keep the faith, brother.

Posted by: Mikey at October 13, 2005 2:57 PM

In 2006, R's will also have multiple coat-tail options. If Bush is popular again--I put the chances of that at about 60%--then Red State R's can hitch themselves to his wagon. In Blue States, or if Bush remains less than popular, there's always McCain and/or Giuliani's wagons.

Democrats' choices are, at this point, to define themselves as Hillary Clinton Democrats, whatever that means, or as Howard Dean Democrats, and we all know what that means.

They can try to be Mark Warner Democrats, but no one has heard of him, so they'll basically be trying to build their image from the ground up, which puts them at a disadvantage and will lose them the support of the Kos Kidz & hangers-on.

Posted by: Timothy at October 13, 2005 4:09 PM

How can a party be reactionary and defenders of a status quo at the same time?

Posted by: maha at October 13, 2005 5:01 PM

Because the President is the revolutionary they're reacting against. They want to keep everything the way it was pre-Clinton--he wants to keep reforming. Without any ideas of their own what can Democrats do but react to W's?

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 5:12 PM

Because the President is the revolutionary they're reacting against. They want to keep everything the way it was pre-Clinton

Actually not; "pre-Clinton" was the Reagan and Bush I administrations. I don't think that's what they want.

he wants to keep reforming.

Considering that nearly all of the Right's so-called "reforms" consist of dismantling what's left of the New Deal or reversing 20th century case law that expanded civil liberties via the 14th Amendment, one might argue that it's the Republicans who are the reactionaries.

Without any ideas of their own what can Democrats do but react to W's?

The Dems in Washington are fairly worthless, true. The Dem base is pretty disgusted with them. We'll see how that goes next year in the primaries.

Posted by: maha at October 13, 2005 6:42 PM

Yes, Reagan and Bush left the Welfare State uintouched. It was Clinton & Gingrich who began reforming it. Old Democrats would like to go back before Welfare Reform, NCLB, Medicare Reform, FBI, etc.. There are no New Democrats anymore.

Yes, many Republicans are reactionary. W though is a revolutionary in the Clinton, Blair, Howard mold, seeking to move on in Third Way fashion.

Agreed, though the base has none either.

Posted by: oj at October 13, 2005 6:50 PM