The Optimist's View

On these pages last week I predicted that there would be an inevitable “tack to the right” by Republicans prior to November’s elections. It only makes sense. With approval ratings in the tank, the Republicans need to shore up their conservative base. It seems as if that effort is now taking hold.

Yesterday Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman went to the Hill to warn Republican leaders that they need to pass a budgetary agreement and immigration reform. Mehlman told Robert Novak that if the mid-term elections were held today, the Republicans would hold the House. But he also warned congressional Republicans that if they fail in these efforts, they could lose forty-five seats. He apparently told them that they better get to work.

A Republican success in November flies in the face of virtually all reporting on the matter. But the truth is that the President’s sagging polls are due to dissatisfaction in his base due mostly to discomfort about Iraq and profligate spending. High gas prices and an immigration system out of control are also irritating the base.

Now however, we may be seeing the Republicans on the mend. The formation of an Iraqi government, ongoing and continued success in placing conservative federal judges on the nation high courts, and indications that Republicans are facing down their spendthrift ways are all good signs.

It also has been reported that the President is feeling chipper. As he is known to look six months out at any particular time, it may be that Bush believes his strategy for a mid-term success is working. It is useful to recall that six months before each of the last three elections, the conventional wisdom was that Bush would be crushed. But in all three elections, events fell together right on time – events that seem to have been positioned a year prior to the election.

The War in Iraq, gas prices, and turning out the base are the keys to a Republican success in the mid-terms. Bush seems to be happy with the progress of the war, as are many in the know. Gas prices may remain above historical levels, but October is the month when they normally are at annual lows. And the base will be turned out if they see things like spending control, immigration reform and success on placing federal judges on the bench.

All that said, I’m watching the Tradesports numbers and thinking that the Republicans are going to be punished for their spending. Like monkeys at a salad bar, they have gorged on anything and everything, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

But grass roots efforts are starting to rein them in, and I expect the better focused Republicans appreciate that spending is hurting more than helping their cause. All things considered, my money is on their losing some ground, but keeping the House.



7:17 PM

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