Even if a Republican manages to win the White House next year, he may be a very lonely occupant. How low can you go? A recent Gallup poll showdd that only 24 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Even fewer, 14 percent, have confidence in the institution. Some Republicans have seized on Congress's low numbers to argue that voters are generally in a foul mood toward both parties, not just President Bush and Republicans.
But this kind of logic is wishful thinking. The public may not think much of Congress, but it is leaning strongly in the Democratic direction. If this mood persists through Election Day, Republicans may be looking at a Democratic president and increased margins in both chambers.
What explain's Congress's low standing? First, the public has dongraded its opinion of nearly all institutions. Only roughly 20 percent of Americans believe that America is on the right track, even fewer than in November 2006. A recent Harris poll showed that compared to 200, the public has less confidence in the press, medicine, major companies and Congress.
(snip) The public also prefers Democrats to control Congress as opposed to Republicans by 10 to 15 percentage points, and prefers a generic Democrat to a generic Republican in the White House by even larger margins. Even the individual presidential general election match-up numbers have slipped significantly. Not too long ago, Republicans could have claimed that while the overall atmosphere did not favor them, at least Rudy Giuliani and John McCain beat leading Democrats in head-to-head polling. Today, Rudy Giuliani is at best even and often trails both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in head-to-head polls. Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson all trail the leading Democrats.
(snip) But with such negative numbers, Republicans should also worry about further losses in the House. It is true that many republicans in marginal districts lost in 2006 and that some weak Democratic challengers were swept in by the tide. But the overall poor climate for Republicans is partly a self-fulfilling prophecy. It will no doubt hurt candidate recruitment. If you are a viable Republican looking to take on a Democratic incumbent, it is not hard to imagine thinking that this might not be your party's year and waiting for a better opportunity down the line. Welcome to the end result of a wasted Republican Revolution. But hey, at least they tried to keep those durn homos from marrying.