WELCOME TO 2010: LET THE RACES BEGIN!

January 1, 2010

Anyone care to make a prediction on the 2010 mid-term elections? Already, political pundits from both parties and all ideologies are predicting gains in both houses of Congress for Republicans. The number of gains vary depending on who you listen to.

For instance, GOP strategists of all stripes are saying Republicans stand to pick up at least 30-35 House seats and as many as 8 in the Senate. Most Democratic pundits and pollsters are calling for a 10-15 seat gain in the House and 2 to 3 in the Senate. Only GQPolitics.com projects little, if any losses in the House and the possibility that the Democrats will hold on to their filibuster proof super-majority.

As for me, a non-Republican, conservative-libertarian, well, let's just say my projections will have to wait at least until summer. I do have a preliminary projection though, but you will have to wait until the end of this brief missive.

If history is any indicator, Republicans stand to have sizable pickups.  Big gains in 2006 and 2008 produced the Democrats' current 258-177 majority in the U.S. House. That gave the Democrats a 41-seat cushion against a reversal in fortune. But, with the defection of Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith's to the GOP.  Yet, the party holding the White House typically loses seats in a midterm election year, and the recession -- and a conservative backlash to policies pursued by President Obama -- could make 2010 tougher than usual for the party in power.

Wednesday, a Rasmussen poll reported that for the second straight week, only 29% of U.S. voters say the country is heading in the right direction. The percentage of voters who felt the country is heading in the right direction remained in the narrow range of 31% to 35% from July to early November. From late November until mid-December, confidence in the country’s current course held steady at 30%.

The majority of voters (67%) continue to believe the nation is heading down the wrong track, the highest level found in 2009. However, in the weeks just prior to Barack Obama's election, more than 80% of voters felt that way.

Fox News, by far the most impartial news outlet in America (even though it leans to the right), has, since, November 11th, made projections of substantial losses for the Dems in both Houses. 

At issue in this new year will be whether a majority of Americans want to see the country continue on a spiraling trek toward socialism and the government's control of more of the economy as pushed by the Obama Administration and the ultra-leftists in the House.  A recent Gallop Poll revealed that 61 percent of Americans don't want to see to country move any farther to the left.

Most handicappers suggest Republicans will pick up seats in Congress because of the pro-abortion health care bill and Americans' disapproval of the Obama presidency.

But Reuters writer James Pethokoukis suggests it could cost Democrats control of the House entirely. He told Newsweek American politics has a regular ebb and flow. He said, "In 13 of the past 15 midterm elections going back to 1950, the party in control of the White House has lost an average of 22 seats in the House. In 10 of the past 15 midterms the party running the Senate has lost an average of three seats."

More recent political results show a change coming with pro-life Republicans winning gubernatorial races in the off-year elections in Virginia, replacing a pro-abortion Democrat, and in New Jersey. It should be noted that 47 Democratic seats in Congress are in districts won by Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 and are poised for a party switch.

Voters in those districts may be especially unhappy with a Democratic legislative agenda that causes many Americans mixed feelings. A RealClearPolitics aggregation of polling data shows Americans disapprove of healthcare reform by a 51-38 margin.

Pethokoukis also notes Democrats have more seats to defend and republican voters are more energized thanks to their opposition to Obama and the health care bill.

I tend to agree with Ed Morrissey, a pro-life Hot Air blogger, who thinks that Republicans recapturing the House is not out of the question but not necessarily likely. Like Morrissey I'd put a couple of big caveats on this. First, in order for Pelosi to lose the House, Democrats have to lose 40 seats next November. That’s certainly not out of range, but it’s not an easy task.

Normally one sees that kind of realignment only once in a generation, and sometimes not that many times. We have already had two in 12 years (1994 and 2006). We usually see incumbents holding onto their seats much more than losing them, and Democratic incumbents will still have the technical advantages in 2010.

Republicans will need to coordinate a national level campaign if they want to be successful in throwing out the pro-abortion Democrats from leading the House.

I have to say at this juncture that the radical nature of the Democratic agenda makes the electorate more amenable to a big shift. However, in both 1994 and 2006, the opposition party ran a coordinated national campaign to effect that kind of turnover. The GOP doesn't seem to have the coordination it needs to do that. In fact, there are two big splinter groups within the Republican ranks which could make for hotly contested primaries between so-called Tea Party advocates and the rank-and-file Republicans who cater to moderates and consists of the RINO elements.

Nevertheless, I will go so far as to project a pick up of 32 seats in the House, not enough for the GOP to takeover, but enough to send some sort of message to Nancy Pelosi that if she and her San Francisco/Chicago radicals continue to push their socialist agenda the 112th Congress will be the last over which she presides as House Speaker. Morrissey believes that a net loss of 30 or more may mean the end of Pelosi's reign anyway, in favor of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

As for the Senate I believe Senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Harry Reid of Nevada, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania will have a tough time sustaining their seats and the seats in Illinois and Delaware are looking better for the GOP as the days go by.

It's just too early to say, but it is more likely that it's too late to say: "Let the races begin," for they most certainly have.

Even if Democrats manage to hang on to the House, Morrissey predicts a more open process -- one that could pave the way for abortion limits.

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