Time Magazine does a horse-race article:
The signs suggest an anti-Republican wave is building, says nonpartisan electoral handicapper Stuart Rothenberg, whose Rothenberg Political Report is closely followed in Washington. “The only question is how high, how big, how much force it will have. I think it will be considerable.”
Right now, things look pretty good.
In recent weeks, a startling realization has begun to take hold: if the elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives and could come within a seat or two of losing the Senate as well.
Taking the House would put John Conyers in charge of the Judiciary Committee, and Henry Waxman in charge of the Government Reform Committee. The prospect of that happening has the GOP fidgety.
Administration officials say they fear that losing even one house of Congress would mean subpoenas and investigations–a taste of the medicine House Republicans gave Bill Clinton. “Everything will grind to a halt,” one said.
But GOP realists know the shit-hammer is poised to strike.
Gingrich says Republicans badly need accomplishments to tell voters about. “The country actually expects the majority to implement,” he says. “They hire you to govern, not just to tell them why you are right.”
The Republicans have no prospect of accomplishing anything substantive in this year’s Congress. So, what to do?
The most obvious line of defense for Republican candidates is to point out their differences with the President, as the party-wide revolt over the ports deal amply demonstrated. In the face of the Democrats’ “rubber stamp” charges, G.O.P. lawmakers are distancing themselves on other issues as well…
…But party leaders are warning privately against taking that strategy too far. “If Diet Coke criticizes Coke, people buy Pepsi, not Diet Coke,” said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee. In an internal Republican Party memo provided to TIME, Jan van Lohuizen, a longtime Bush pollster, warns candidates tempted to distance themselves that “President Bush drives our image and will do so until we have real national front-runners for the ’08 nomination. If he drops, we all drop.” Another Republican strategist describes the problem for G.O.P. candidates this way: “Adding weight to the anchor doesn’t help them.”
That doesn’t sound like a coherent strategy to me. How can they distance themselves from the President if their fate is tied up with the President? The Republicans are going to get drubbed in November.