It was only 8 days ago that Dick Morris wrote in The Hill:
Churchgoing whites are the core of the Republican base. The fact that they are now breaking even in the approaching midterm elections foretells total disaster for the GOP. For this group to leave is, quite literally, the political equivalent of the last dog dying! It is now likely that they will lose both houses of Congress.
With this kind of defection, Republican Sens. Mike DeWine (Ohio), Conrad Burns (Mont.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Jim Talent (Mo.) and Lincoln Chaffee (R.I.) seem likely to be gone. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) seat seems likely to go to Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.). And Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) may also be on his way out. In New Jersey, after trailing Tom Kean Jr. for most of September, Sen. Robert Menendez (D) seems to have moved out to a small lead that will probably grow.
And all of this trend is before the final weeks when downscale Democrats, who have not yet focused on the elections, “come home” and vote their historic party loyalties.
The defection of the Republican base is likely to be felt even more keenly in the House races. The very gerrymandering that GOP leaders had hoped would leave their House margin invulnerable may now backfire as the Republican white churchgoers, whom the district lines had incorporated into swing Republican districts, now defect and vote Democrat or stay home in massive numbers. The gerrymandering designed to keep Democrats out may have the perverse effect of keeping disaffected Republicans in the swing districts, magnifying their effect on the election.
Can the Republican Party reunite with its base? It’s hard to see how they can win it back until the 2008 election. A Hillary Clinton candidacy would obviously help them to regain the fierce loyalty of their base, but she would also bring in millions of single women voters who would support her candidacy by huge margins. The recent census data showing that half of all households are unmarried indicates how extensive a political force single women can become.
So it will take 2 years to reunite with the base, huh? I suppose so, unless it takes only 8 days:
06 ELEX: BACK TO TOSS-UP
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
October 24, 2006 -- The latest polls show something very strange and quite encouraging is happening: The Republican base seems to be coming back home. This trend, only vaguely and dimly emerging from a variety of polls, suggests that a trend may be afoot that would deny the Democrats control of the House and the Senate.
With two weeks to go, anything can happen, but it is beginning to look poss- ible that the Democratic surge in the midterm elections may fall short of control in either House.
Here's the evidence:
* Pollsters Scott Rasmussen and John Zogby both show Republican Bob Corker gaining on Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee, a must-win Senate seat for the Democrats. Zogby has Corker ahead by seven, while Rasmussen still shows a Ford edge of two points.
* Zogby reports a "turnaround" in New Jersey's Senate race with the GOP candidate Tom Kean taking the lead, a conclusion shared by some other public polls.
* Even though Sen. Jim Talent in Missouri is still under the magic 50 percent threshold for an incumbent, Rasmussen has him one point ahead and Zogby puts him three up. But unless he crests 50 percent, he'll probably still lose.
* Even though he is a lost cause, both Rasmussen and Zogby show Montana's Republican Sen. Conrad Burns cutting the gap and moving up.
* In Virginia, Republican embattled incumbent Sen. George Allen has now moved over the 50 percent threshold in his internal polls. (He'd been at 48 percent.)
Nationally, Zogby reports that the generic Democratic edge is down to four points, having been as high as nine two weeks ago.
Why are Republican fortunes brightening?
The GOP base, alienated by the Foley scandal and the generally dismal record of this Congress, may have fast forwarded to the prospect of a Democratic victory and recoiled. They may have pondered the impact of a repeal of the Patriot Act, a ban on NSA wiretapping and a requirement of having an attorney present in terrorist questioning - and decided not to punish the country for the sins of the Republican leaders.
Right now, we would have to say that control of Congress has gone from "lean Democrat" to a "toss-up." And that's progress for the Republicans.
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