My take on this morning’s Washington Post story, “Elections Are Crux Of GOP’s Strategy,” differs a bit from John’s. I focused on the subtitle, “Bush Aides Look to Midterm Vote as Way to Reverse Slide.” That’s an odd notion. Normally a party does well in an election because its leader is popular; the leader does not become popular because his party does well in an election.
Yet there is some validity to the thinking attributed to the Bush team. This president’s popularity has improved during past election campaigns. In my view, this is because when there’s no election, the electorate receives a disproportionate amount of its information about the state of the nation from the liberal MSM. It is only during elections that the public considers the Republican message as presented by Republicans.
In 2006, however, the voters are likely to get a mixed message from Republicans. President Bush isn’t running and the members of Congress who are cannot be expected to present a message that will consistently work to the president’s advantage. To mention an important example (but not the only one), Bush got way out in front of his blockers on immigration. This will force many candidates to part company with the president on this vital issue.
I’m also less optimistic than John about Republican chances in 2006. My reasoning is not very complicated. It is based on three propositions. First, the president’s party very often suffers significant losses in the sixth year of a presidency. Second, the president’s party very often suffers significant losses when the president is not popular. Third, significant Republican losses would enable the Democrats to recapture both chambers.