This is a very interesting piece by UVA political scientist and analyst Larry Sabato (whom you should go see speak if you ever have a chance - he's very entertaining).
He says that Democrats are having a hard time putting together a 'big wave' to take out the Republican majority for a variety of reasons, but notably because the issues of Iraq, ethics, and immigration are important in places that they can't influence, and because they've been unable to craft a 'national narrative' on these issues:
The Crystal Ball has observed something remarkable taking shape: a unique split decision. Democrats have succeeded in placing national issues of great consequence front and center in individual races for the House, but they have thus far failed to establish a truly national narrative to frame the battles in each of their targeted districts within a single, compelling context. Iraq has dominated neck-and-neck horse races in districts such as Connecticut's 4th and Pennsylvania's 7th, but ethics has (rightfully) trumped other contests in districts that have grown to know congressional scandal all too well, such as California's 50th and Ohio's 18th. Immigration has dominated still more campaigns, especially where districts are in close proximity to borders (again, CA-50, among others).
This variegation of the 2006 issue landscape complicates Democratic efforts a great deal. But there is little the party out of power can do in this respect--the diversity of competitive districts and candidates greatly reduces the party's ability to craft anything close to a simple, powerful banner under which all of its candidates could run. Yes, generic congressional ballot tests indicate startling weakness for the GOP, but Republicans can take heart in the difficulty of their opponents' challenge. For all of the GOP's very serious woes, the Democratic search for a national message and an electoral wave seems unlikely to produce anything quite as potent as the "Contract with America" and the tsunami of twelve years ago.
This seems to be an argument against a Democratic version of the 'Contract With America.' It would rely on individual candidates to frame their races better - something that Francine Busby could not do, but other Democrats might be better at. It also leaves the Democrats with a national 'meta-message' more like 'haven't you had enough?'
Read the whole thing. It's interesting, and not really all that encouraging for the GOP.
Update: Welcome KausFiles readers... I think. Let me know in the comments section whether Mickey's right and I'm wrong. And while you're here, feel free to look around - or see why on immigration, the House GOP and John McCain have decisions to make.
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