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Large Republican gains in House seats are 'inevitable' come November: Rothenberg

Ohio Republican Representative john Boehner turns over the House Speaker's gavel to Democrat Nancy Pelosi

In a new report to be issued this morning, the respected nonpartisan political prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg will predict "inevitable" Republican gains of House seats this November, likely in excess of two dozen and possibly even above the 40 necessary to turn control of that body over to the GOP.

"Substantial Republican gains are inevitable," Rothenberg writes, "with net Democratic losses now looking to be at least two dozen. At this point, GOP gains of 25-30 seats seem likely, though considerably larger gains in excess of 40 seats certainly seem possible."

Such a long list of losses would be far beyond the historical average of 16 turnovers in the first midterm election of a new president like Barack Obama. In the first midterm election of Bill Clinton's presidency in 1994, Republicans seized control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years and held them for 12 years, even through the first midterm elections of George W. Bush's presidency.

The 28 weeks until Nov. 2 is a very long time in American politics. But at the moment a decisive victory seems the Republicans' to lose. A growing barrage of public opinion polls show mounting public dissatisfaction with the economy, the stubbornly....

...high unemployment rates despite the $787 billion stimulus bill, the president's declined job approval, his expensive healthcare bill and his consistent focus on topics other than jobs. Also targeted by unhappy voters are political incumbents in general; many of them are Democrats, given the popularity of the Obama ticket and voters' decision to turn complete control of Washington over to that party in 2008.

Now comes the circumspect Rothenberg's less than cautious appraisal of the outlook for Democrats.


Earlier this week a Gallup poll found Republicans had taken the lead on the generic congressional ballot preference, an historically accurate indicator of voter mood that presaged the GOP's large gains in 1994 and 2002.

One poll this week even showed the once polarizing secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a more favorable rating than her White House boss.

Both Obama and longtime Senate veteran Joe Biden have admitted anticipating possibly heavy congressional losses this fall, with the Democrat president recently calling the political climate "hard."

Even with Democratic election losses in Virginia, New Jersey and once-staunchly liberal Massachusetts, Obama has, however, shown no signs of abating his aggressive agenda.

In his new analysis, Rothenberg said there was "some possibility" the political landscape could change before November, but "substantial Republican gains are inevitable." His latest listing of the 435-member House moved 44 seats in the GOP's direction and only four toward Democrats.

Such a large shift, likely also involving some Senate losses, would not only make California's Rep. Nancy Pelosi an ex-speaker but would also have a dramatic impact on Obama's agenda for the second half of his term. While a Republican House would give him a convenient political target for the 2012 campaign, all financial legislation originates in that body. 

As one possible strategy, last weekend former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that (full speech video available here) a Republican House simply not fund Obama's more liberal programs such as the healthcare legislation that remains unpopular in polls.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press (Pelosi accepts the Speaker's gavel from Republican John Boehner of Ohio); CafePress.

Comments () | Archives (8)

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Too many abitions...

Such inconsequential gains imply that until at least 2016, Newt will have to settle for counting his chickens.

Mr. President, it is past time you get mad and kick the GOP to the Curb where they belong and ask the voters to help in the process. There are still too many GOP folks on Capitol Hill.

A long-standing fundamental value in this country is that he, who makes a mess, accepts responsibility, puts a shoulder to the wheel and helps clean up. Sadly, this basic value is lost on the GOP. For the past year the GOP has presented the most despicable spectacle to God and man and especially to our youth that it has absolutely no respect for that time honored value. They left a colossal and horrendous mess and then, as a bunch of two bit thugs, they stood by and refused to assist in cleaning up. Instead, they threw and are throwing rocks at the clean up folks. With the GOP, personal politics and photo ops all come before the people. If voters rewarded the GOP for such atrocious conduct, what message would that send to everyone, everywhere? We are seeing the GOP, en masse, show that they rather do what’s safe for retaining their seats than do right by the American people.

Conversely, the Democrat controlled congress worked with Reagan and passed most of what he wanted. Again, when the GOP took over the congress in the second year of Clinton’s first term, the latter was very conciliatory with them.

Mr. President, you are only pursuing the policies on which you ran. Yet, the Democrats are letting the GOP folks run all over declaring that you are not doing what the people want. If the American people didn’t want these things, wouldn’t McCain be the President? I haven’t heard one Democrat use this reminder to close the GOP’s uncivil mouth. We feel it’s it high time the Democrats come to grips with the fact that the GOP is made up of down and dirty folks, who take no prisoners. If the Democrats, given the abundance of material in front of them, are so inept as to let the GOP take seats from them in November even though the latter left this country in utter shambles only fifteen months ago, then maybe they (Democrats) should lose both houses in November and the Oval Office two years hence. The Democrat supporters are like frustrated parents watching their children, who have been given great advantages, squander it all away.

Making no appeal to the uninsured in Virginia and N.J and taking Mass. for granted are clear indicators of the unconscionably inept way the Democrats are letting the GOP run them over. What’s even more remarkable is that the GOP is doing this from the extreme right and unapologetically so. The Democrats, taking all of this silently and laying down, seemingly, don’t realize that many of their supporters are frustrated, disappointed and angry. These feelings will cause them to stay home come November, leaving the gate wide open to GOP candidates. Out west, we don’t see the DNC doing anything to counteract the weekly activities of the GOP to activate, excite and keep their people engaged. Mr. President, a month before the elections in November will be too late. Won’t it?

California can make the biggest difference. Dump "call me Senator" Boxer and every democrat in the House and we might start some real change we can believe in.

I don't understand why the American people would support the "Party of NO."

Republicans have done nothing to try and reform America. They have been obstructionists and have tried to defeat almost every piece of legislation that the President has tried to pass.

Their solutions are outdated and out of touch and they do not understand where this country needs to go.

If the Democrats can take control of the debate in the fall and prove to the American people that the Republican party is the "Party of NO", then the election will be a landslide victory for the Democrats.

However, I doubt the ability of the Democrats to overcome the hate rhetoric and fear mongering of the Republicans, and I question whether the American people will be able to see past the empty campaign promises of the GOP to elect the "Party of NOW."

Vote Democrat this fall.

The Republican Party says "NO" to everything helping average American citizens and workers, but "YES" "YES" to helping big money / big business! Lets vote these jokers out in November and help President Obama rebuild America.

Headline of Fox New website the day healthcare passed: "Dems Don't Have the Votes."

Do Republicans do anything better than give no votes? Well, they're certainly talented at overly optimistic prognostications. Face it, they're loser has-beens and the country's left them to their sad little shacks in the red states.

Why am I not suprised that democrats continue to forget they have control of both houses. You are all morons. The republicans cannot block your saviors agenda without the support of democrats. That's right. The true party of "no" is democrats. Take some time to open a book and read about how the house and the senate work. I can't read a book because you are all victims of this unfair American system that allows everyone an opportunity to education, income, and freedom. Don't forget you all are victims of the mean, evil business that supplies you a pay check and a job every day. They are so mean. Why are you not equally upset when the government makes money from evil business making money. Who made more last year in oil profits? Was it the mean old business man or your government? Hmmmm....I wonder.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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