Rothenberg: A Good Democratic Year

Stuart Rothenberg believes that the Democrats will pick up several seats in the House in November’s elections but probably not the necessary 15 to take over.

With a little over nine months to go until Election Day, Democrats are headed for gains in the United States House of Representatives. The only question is exactly how big those gains will be.

Democrats need a net gain of fifteen seats to get to the magic number of 218 seats and control of the chamber. That would make Representative Nancy Pelosi Speaker, install Democrats as chairs of House committees, and fundamentally change the political environment on Capitol Hill and nationally for President George W. Bush’s final two years.

I recently raised my projections of likely Democratic gains to five to eight seats based on the continued deepening of the Abramoff scandal and continued voter sentiment for change. While it is still difficult to “count” eight certain Democratic House takeovers, the combination of macropolitical factors and credible Democratic opportunities add up to likely Democratic gains in the mid-single digits.

As Rothenberg recently noted on his blog, the Republicans appear “tone deaf” and likely to keep a status quo leadership, with Denny Hastert remaining Speaker and Roy Blunt likely to succeed Tom DeLay as Majority Leader.

Ethics has become a major threat to the Republicans’ control of Capitol Hill. Neither a change in the GOP House leadership nor the exits of DeLay and Ney will stop the Democrats from continuing with their “culture of corruption†message. But those changes, along with an ethics package, would make it easier for Republicans to reposition themselves on the issue of reform and to move on from their current status quo orientation.

If gaining only eight seats qualifies as a “good year” for the Democrats given this climate, the Republicans will likely agree to it in advance, bake them a cake, and send them some champagne.

FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, Environment, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. No joke.

    Furher, while I agree that there is some serious tone deafness in the GOP, the Democrats are utterly tone deaf to the fact that just saying what a bad job the Reps are doing isn’t a argument for why the Dems should be given control of the Congress.

  2. RA says:

    If Democratic polsters are predicting modest Democratic gains, that tells me the GOP will probably enlarge their margin.

    New GOP candidates should label the Democrats as $7 / gallon of gas extremists. Drill in ANWR NOW!

  3. Dodd says:

    The Democrats seem to think that they can make 2006 a reverse 1994. And they could indeed make major strides if they followed the GOP’s 1994 game plan. But that would require them to come up with a comprehensive – and coherent – national platform to run on, something they have persistently not just avoided but outright refused to do in even the most modest or preliminary fashion.

    Perhaps that’s because any conceivable specific proposals that would have any chance at of of resonating with actual voters would inevitably infuriate their left-wing base….

  4. McGehee says:

    …the Democrats are utterly tone deaf to the fact that just saying what a bad job the Reps are doing isn’t a argument for why the Dems should be given control of the Congress.

    They even have a model of sorts for doing it right, in the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. Why (he asked rhetorically) wouldn’t they want to emulate Bill Clinton’s example?

  5. Pug says:

    I don’t know how the Democrats will do this year, but competetive districts have pretty much been gerrymandered out of existence.

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘That would make Representative Nancy Pelosi Speaker’

    That should be a disturbing occurrence for both parties.