It's amusing in a way to see some of the reports about the elections that are coming out right now. It is also interesting to see some of the punditry about the news. The Washington Post has an article that positively drips with disbelief that George Bush and Karl Rove remain upbeat regardless of the news. Now, one assumes that a writer for the Washington Post is smart enough to know that those in the top spots in the party always have to remain cheerful and upbeat. But the story seems to be saying, "Just accept our conventional wisdom and surrender before the election". That has never been a winning strategy for any party, ever.
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are bracing for losses of 25 House seats or more. But party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats — shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term.
In the Senate, Rove and associates believe, a Democratic victory would require the opposition to "run the table," as one official put it, to pick up the necessary six seats — a prospect the White House seems to regard as nearly inconceivable.
The Mark Foley page scandal and its fallout have many Republicans panicked, but Rove professes to be taking it in stride. "The data we are seeing from individual races and the national polls would tend to indicate that people can divorce Foley's personal action from the party," he said in a brief interview Thursday.
The official White House line of supreme self-assurance comes from the top down. Bush has publicly and privately banished any talk of losing the GOP majorities, in part to squelch any loss of nerve among his legions. Come January, he said last week, "We'll have a Republican speaker and a Republican leader of the Senate."
The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence — based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command — or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.
I pointed to an interesting analysis yesterday that says all may not be what it seems. I have seen many, many campaigns where victory was predicted for one side or the other come out quite differently when the actual voting happened. I don't pretend to know where this one will end. But there sure is a lot of cheerleading in the media, and not a few pundits abandoning the Republican ship. In one way, having Democrats win the House would force them to grow up and propose alternatives instead of shrilly pointing fingers. On the other hand, too many of the people who would be leaders under that scenario have proposed cutting off funding for our troops (in a magic way that defunds the war but doesn't hurt the troops – as if that were possible). They have also promised to raise taxes, which will slowly choke off the booming economy. A Republican victory will actually make it harder for that party to win the White House in 2008, I think. A Democratic victory will put that party in a weaker position going in to the next presidential campaign, as well. So I am of two minds about the whole situation. But I do not believe everything I read in the media, especially these days.