Will the Republicans Continue to Crumble in 2010?
It is said in the United States that the first 100 days of Presidents tenure are the most productive as it is during those days that the President is best able to use their political capital without needing to focus on the mid-term elections. Now, with Barack Obama’s first 100 days coming to a close I thought I would take this opportunity to look at the prospects of the 2010 election and what I predict will be a continued downfall for the Republican Party. In this post I will have a look at the three main areas of competition in 2010 (House of Representatives, Senate and Gubernatorial Races) and discuss the prospects of the Democrats and Republicans in these areas.
House of Representatives
At such an early stage it is extremely difficult to predict how the House of Representatives races will go in 2010. As House of Representative races occur on a much smaller scale than Senate and Gubernatorial races, far less work and fundraising efforts are required. This means that at this point of time potential candidates have still not appeared and races have not really begun, meaning it is difficult to tell what will happen. However, even with that a couple of key indicators are pointing towards another strong Democratic showing in 2010. These are:
- The approval rating of the Congress has risen recently. Now, approximately 30-35% of people approve of Congress, compared to the average 20-25% that occurred during the last House of Reps tenure. Given that the Democrats did so well in the last period, one could assume that with increased popularity they would continue to do well at the next election.
- The percentage of people who think that the United States are going in the right direction has risen dramatically. Although this may be due to a change in President, when this occurs it normally points towards status quo elections, which would mean continued Democratic strength.
For a good discussion on the possibilities of a Republican rebound in the House of Representatives read this article.
Although it is difficult to predict the House of Representative at this point of time, indicators of how the Senate will go are becoming much clearer and it looks good for the Democrats. With almost double the amount of Republicans up for election in 2010 than Democrats and a few key retirements the Democrats have a number of things going their way in 2010. Here are some of the key issues:
Retirements: At the current time Senators from 5 states ( Judd Gregg from New Hampshire, George Voinovich from Ohio, Kit Bond from Missouri, Mel Martinez from Florida and Sam Brownback from Kansas) have announced their retirements in 2010, with the possibility that two to three more will announce that they are retiring in the near future (Oklahoma (if Tim Coburn decides to retire as he has indicated he might), Texas (if Kay Hutchison retires to run in the primary for Governor, creating a special election) and Kentucky (if Jim Bunning buckles to pressure to resign from the seat). Although Kansas probably lost its only chance for a Democratic Senator with Kathleen Sebelius being elevated to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Democrats are almost certain to pick up the extremely blue leaning New Hampshire and Ohio and will be extremely competitive in Missouri and Florida depending on candidates.
Conservative Challenges: With the hardening of the right base in the Republican Party over the past years, there are now a number of possible conservative challengers to more moderate Republican Senators. This is creating a great conundrum for the Republican Party. Whilst conservative candidates are now more likely to win Republican primaries (due to the exodus of moderates from the party) they are far less likely to win in a general election, where in states like Pennsylvania (where conservative Pat Toomey is likely to beat Senator Arlen Spector in the primary race) and Arizona (where conservative Chris Simcox is challenging John McCain) moderate candidates are preferred.
Vulnerable Senators: The Republicans also have two very vulnerable Senators in Jim Bunning representing Kentucky and Richard Burr in North Carolina. Bunning has made a number of gaffs in his time in office (including stating the Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be dead in 9 months after her cancer operation), is growing extremely unpopular and has a dismal fundraising record. However, even with strong pressure from within the party to remove Bunning, he looks unlikely to step down and is yet to face any primary challengers. This leaves the Democrats with a strong chance of picking up the seat. Richard Burr is facing some of the same problems Elizabeth Dole face in 2008. North Caroline is becoming bluer and Burr is suffering due to that. This means that he will likely face a strong challenge for his seat in 2010.
Vulnerable Democrats: It is important to note that there are a few vulnerable Democrats as well (although there are no retirements). The most vulnerable of these is Senator Chris Dodd (Connecticut) who is under a lot of pressure over his dealings with the bank bail outs. Dodd is facing a number of challengers and will have a tough run for re-election. Republicans also like to point towards Roland Burris in Illinois and Harry Reid in Nevada as possible vulnerable candidates. However, with Burris likely to lose a primary challenge and Reid having a huge incumbency advantage and election war chest, it is extremely unlikely that the Republicans will pick up these seats.
Overall, it seems almost certain the Democrats will pick up seats in New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania, with strong challenges being played out in Missouri, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Connecticut. This would lead to the Democrats finally picking up the 60 seats required to defeat a filibuster.
It is the gubernatorial races however that will provide the most hope for the Republicans in 2010. With retirements/term by Democrats occurring in such states conservative states as Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming the Republicans seem likely to pick up some new Governorships. However, these states are by no means big prizes and where the Republicans win here they are more than likely to lose elsewhere. The biggest chance for loss for the Republicans will be the state of California, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be forced out due to term limits. The race will be tight with strong candidates emerging on both sides, but with the inherent blue nature of California one would predict a Democrat win.
The other big race will be in New York. With current Governor David Paterson facing low approval ratings in the state and possible primary challenges, this race could be tight. This is especially true as there is now talk that former New York Mayor and Republican Presidential Candidate Rudolf Giuliani may be considering running in the race, giving the Republicans a strong candidate. However, it is still extremely early to tell at this point of time, although I would predict that Giuliani would win the race if he ran.
Overall, things look good for the Democrats in 2010. With a strengthening conservative base in the United States and a growing rejection of this base, Democrats are looking stronger than ever in the United States and in my opinion will continue to grow in 2010. What this will do to the Republicans and conservative movement in the United States I am not sure about, but it will definitely create even more turmoil than that we are seeing at the moment.
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