Dick Morris joins the fray, predicting that “a landslide victory for Bush [is] quite possible if Howard Dean wins the Democratic nod” and that the GOP should make strong gains in the House and Senate. Noting the retirement of five key Democratic Senators and recent polling and demographic shifts, Morris estimates,
The most likely result would be a Republican gain of three or four, knocking the Democrats down to only 44 or 45 seats, barely enough to sustain a filibuster. If Bush wipes out Dean in a landslide, the Democrats could fall even lower, although it seems unlikely that they would drop below the magic number of 40 needed to oppose closure on Democratic filibusters.
Republicans will keep control of the House easily; the reapportionment of 2002 assures GOP control for the rest of the decade. In a series of state deals, Republicans and Democrats both agreed to put Democratic voters into districts now represented by Democrats. The Republicans liked the idea because it gave them permanent control of the House. Democrats loved it because it assured them of lifetime tenure in the lower house. (The only reason the Senate is so competitive is that the politicians can’t gerrymander state lines!)
This analysis is quite reasonabe given present trends. Of course, any number of things could still happen in the next ten months. But with things looking up on both the economic and foreign policy fronts, it seems unlikely the voters will want to dump the party in power.