Thursday, September 07, 2006


According to this article, the Washington Times’ Donald Lambro seems to think that GOP chances are brightening.

Two months before Election Day, some things were happening in the political environment that showed how quickly the tide can turn in the rough and tumble of American elections.
Earlier this week, Chevron’s announcement of major new oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps the biggest in a generation, which could yield 400,000 barrels per day, had a positive impact on the oil markets. Oil and gas prices were already falling significantly as we entered Labor Day weekend, the combined result of reduced fears of supply interruptions in global markets, especially in the Gulf, and a fall-off in U.S. gasoline demand as the summer vacation driving season came to a close.
As this is written, the national average price of gas at the pump was $2.70 a gallon and falling, while oil had dropped from $77 a barrel to $69 or less. Further price reductions will likely ease the squeeze on consumer budgets at a time when Republicans need all the good news they can get.

In other words, as I said here, events drive elections as much as policies. Dropping oil prices will take away one of the Democrats’ favorite whipping boys. Amy Klobuchar has made a big deal of attacking “Big Oil and the Big Pharmaceuticals”. With gas prices already having dropped half a dollar this month here in Minnesota, and with prices being forecast to drop even further, it’s sure to take the sting out of the Democrats’ rants.

Usually cautious elections tracker Charlie Cook summed up the GOP’s future this way over Labor Day weekend: If “the political climate remains as it is today, a very big ‘if’, Republicans will likely lose the House and their dominance of the nation’s governorships but hang on to the Senate by a thread.”
But interviews with key Democrats advising all levels of their party’s campaign apparatus and with Republican officials suggest the “big if” Mr. Cook worries about is the wild card in all this that could give the GOP a winning hand. Maybe not enough to avoid losses in the House and Senate and among the governorships, but possibly enough to keep both chambers in Republican control.

Mr. Cook is a dilligent political forecaster but he isn’t paying enough attention to the Right Blogosphere. If he were, he’d know that the GOP base is fired up in keeping the levers of power out of Democrats’ hands. He’d also know that Republicans are talking about national security and enforecement first immigration whenever possible. In other words, he hasn’t noticed that “the political climate” has already changed from the climate he perceives.

Republican campaign officials tell me if Democrats are leading in the generic polls by 6 points or so, they feel confident they can repel the assault on the House. “We look at the individual races and we find in our polling data that the Republicans are in very good positions,” said Carl Forti, chief spokesman for the NRCC. “Republicans will be in the majority in the next Congress,” he told me.

Forecasters like Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg are basing their predictions on 2004 results and immediately assume that these incumbents are in trouble because they think this is a difficult year for Republicans based on President Bush’s low poll ratings. The other thing that’s worth noting is that the generic ballot is useless. PERIOD.

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