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 RepublicansÃ¢€™ 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 Ã¢€œculture of corruptionÃ¢€ 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.