July 13, 2006


House GOP senses shift in political winds (Patrick O’Connor, 7/13/06, The Hill)

House Republicans say they are growing more optimistic about their chances this November after a politically disastrous stretch and repeated fumbles that fomented discord within the party.

The newfound optimism is grounded in what Republicans say is a shift in the political winds — and their fundraising prowess.

In preparation for midterm elections, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has been tapped to helm the Battleground program, the GOP’s final fundraising push of the 2006 election cycle. [...]

“We have to raise money to sustain and to win,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) told a group of reporters after the conference meeting. “People are anteing up, and we’re looking forward to increasing our majority next year.”

This is the first time in recent history that a senior Republican lawmaker has even discussed the possibility of increasing the GOP majority in the House this election cycle. Many Republicans have said they would be extremely pleased if they retain control of the lower chamber. [...]

Republicans in the House launched their Battleground effort in the wake of news events that have been favorable to the GOP.

The California special congressional election last month was a tremendous relief for Republicans in the House, even though many had dismissed its significance on the eve of that election. It came the same week that insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq and coincided with an extension of tax cuts on dividends and capital gains.

This week, Republicans crowed about new figures showing that the budget deficit is smaller than had been anticipated.

While Republican leaders have had a hard time corralling their members on a number of votes this year, leaders and rank-and-file members have said passing the budget resolution through the House was the biggest hurdle and significantly eased the way for all of the spending bills, allowing members to complete their most basic duty on Capitol Hill.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 13, 2006 3:21 PM

Don't get cocky, Mr Speaker. You've had a big assist from your opponents.

Posted by: Rick T. at July 13, 2006 3:48 PM

Nope, just the news cycle.

Posted by: oj at July 13, 2006 3:51 PM

I still all the RNC callers that I won't give a dime until they end earmarks.

I guess I won't be funding anyone for quite a while.

Posted by: Bruno at July 13, 2006 4:42 PM

This was always going to be tough year for the Dems in the mid-terms, so it made perfect sense for the Dems to overstate their chances in the run-up to the election and for the Reps to understate their chances. Both strategies were designed to maximize fundraising. Now we're inside of 120 days to the election and it's time for the parties to start pulling back and being more realistic so that they don't look like total incompetents come Election Day.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 13, 2006 5:12 PM

Mr. Bruno, how do you expect the RNC to act like a machine if you don't allow oil for the gears?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at July 13, 2006 6:03 PM

Mr. Robert,

They seem to have plenty of "oil" from the people writing their protectionist and anti-market legislation for them to ruberstamp.

(e.g. Pharma and Film industry gaming patent and copyright, etc.etc.)

When some Republican runs on Personal Accounts for Social Security and disemboweling the education bureaucracy, I'll send them some cash.

The party is currently run by pigs only slightly better than the Dem variety.

Alone, earmarks are a drop in the bucket, but as a litmus test, they mean a great deal. Listening to some fatuous jerk talk about "big government Democrats as he loads up his district with pork isn't to be taken seriously. S/he deserves to lose their seat.

Posted by: Bruno at July 13, 2006 6:46 PM

Mr. Bruno, thanks for your thoughts. The money you speak of goes to the congressmen, not the party.
Bush ran on Personal Accounts and disemboweling the education bureaucracy. Bush runs the party, but leading a bunch of shining knights tilting at windwheels is tricky. Earmarks are just a tool. Too much is bad, just like too much oil is bad for your car, but not corruption in moderation.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at July 13, 2006 10:33 PM

I like how the Congressional GOP are like desperate men on a life raft, looking for land to drift in to sight, with no ability to act on their own to improve their chances. It's a shift in the wind they hope for, not a shift in their behavior.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 14, 2006 12:04 AM

They've done a good job and it hasn't mattered because of the news cycle. Now they're just reaping their just rewards and feeling increasingly confident.

Posted by: oj at July 14, 2006 12:09 AM

The effect of high gas prices remains to be seen. Polls show a strong correlation between gas prices and approval ratings. If, and that is a big if, people vote how they respond to the polls, incumbents are in trouble.

Posted by: Pepys at July 14, 2006 1:59 AM