Yesterday’s Meet the Press, as well as the intriguing revelation that Illinois Senator Barak Obama is now thinking of running for president in ’08, had a very good exchange on the upcoming elections.
It seems that, barring a huge turn-around, the Democrats are going to take the House of Representatives. It would appear most likely that they will end up one or two Senate seats short. However, parallels with Gingrich’s ’96 revolution, when they swept both houses beyond all expectation, abound.
The contributors on Meet the Press were David Broder of The Washington Post, Charlie Cook of the National Journal, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal, Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times. Here are some excerpts:
RUSSERT: All right, gentlemen, here we go. Let’s look at some poll data from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
First, the president’s job approval. He’s at 38 percent approve, 57 disapprove. On the economy, a little bit better: 44 percent approve the economy, and 52 percent disapprove. The war in Iraq, not so good: approve, just 33, disapprove, 63.
How about Congress? Approval, 16 percent of Americans approve the job Congress is doing, 75 disapproval. Look at October ‘94, the month before the Republican revolution, led by Newt Gingrich: Congress had a 24 percent approval.
And this question, who should control Congress? Thirty-seven percent say Republicans, 52 percent say Democrats, a 15-point gap. Again, October ‘94, before the Republican revolution, when the Republicans won 52 seats, the Republicans were up 6 points.
On the how many Representatives the Democrats are likely to win:
COOK: But I think we start at 20. I mean, I mean, look, 16 days, obviously, everything could change. I think it’s at least 20 in the House. I think it’s more 25, 30, 35. It, it could go, this could get bad, particularly if Republican turnout really drops.
MR. RUSSERT: They need 15 to take control.
MR. COOK: They need 15, and I think 20 is the starting point, unless something big happens. And voter turnout, I mean, Republican voters right now are depressed. And Democrats are spitting nails. And, wow, that’s—if Repub—I mean, when you see these wave election, midterm elections, it’s when one side’s voters are energized and the other side’s are disillusioned.
MR. HARWOOD: And Tim, we saw on our Journal/NBC poll, when you ask “How interested are you in the election? How enthusiastic are you about voting?” We show a significant advantage for Democrats.
But let me tell you, I talked to a couple of top Bush advisers yesterday who said, “Your way of measuring is wrong, that if you look at our metrics for the number of volunteers we have, the number of contacts we’re making, we are doing much better than you think.” So that’s going to be a, a test on Election Day. And let’s don’t forget: A lot of the people now predicting big Republican losses here, were predicting that George Bush was going to lose, and the Bush team was right about that.
MR. RUSSERT: What’s your gut tell you?
MR. HARWOOD: My gut tells me 20 is about right, and that in the Senate, maybe five seats for the Democrats, and you end up with 50/50.
MR. RUSSERT: David:
MR. BRODER: I think our friends are absolutely on, on, on target. If, if they’re wrong, I think it would be underestimating this wave, not overestimating it.
And on the Senate:
I’m going to run through some of the Senate races and, we’ll—then we’ll come back and talk. Here’s Montana: Republican candidate Conrad Burns vs. Democrat Jon Tester. Tester has been ahead.
Let’s look at Pennsylvania. Rick Santorum is the incumbent, Democratic challenger Bob Casey. Casey has been ahead.
Let’s look at Ohio. Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent; Sherrod Brown, the Democratic challenger. Brown has been ahead.
And we look at Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee, the Republican who won his primary handily, is behind Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democrat.
Missouri: Jim Talent, the Republican; Claire McCaskill, the Democrat. Very tight race.
Tennessee: Bob Corker, the Republican; Harold Ford, the Democrat. Very tight race.
Virginia: George Allen, the Republican; Jim Webb, the Democrat. Very tight race.
Then two states held by the Democrats. All those other ones were held by Republicans. New Jersey: Bob Menendez, the Democrat; Tom Kean, a tight race.
Maryland: Ben Cardin, the Democrat; Michael Steele, the Republican lieutenant governor. Cardin’s been ahead, but closer than many people expected.
Bob Novak, in those seven key races, the Democrats are either tied or ahead. Is that a pretty good indication, do you think, of where we are 16 days out?
MR. NOVAK: I think so. I think the first four you mentioned look to be locks for—not locks but highly probable—for the Democrats. That’s four seats, not enough to take control.
MR. RUSSERT: They need six.
MR. NOVAK: They need six. The, the races that really are, are quite competitive and decisive will be Tennessee, Virginia…
MR. RUSSERT: And Missouri.
MR. COOK: Well, I think Pennsylvania, Santorum; Mike DeWine, Ohio; boy, they’re just way, way, way, way, way down. Boy, it’s really hard to see them, them make it up. Burns, I think Burns is going to lose, but the margin isn’t nearly as wide as the first two. Chafee, that’s—it’s closer, but Chafee is behind. You know, I think it’s more likely than not Democrats pick up that one. That gets you to four.
And next is—OK, what happens next. Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri, gosh, it’s, it’s really close. Maybe McCaskill ahead a tiny bit more than behind, but it’s close. Then as John said, those rural areas help—how bad—how far are they going to go for Republicans. Tennessee, absolutely right. I mean, Ford’s been ahead, but it’s been closing. Corker pulling up. Virginia, George Allen is up a little bit, but I think if a feather landed on his head, it’d probably knock him out. And New Jersey, two weeks ago, I thought Kean, the Republican, was going to win. Now, Menendez has pulled back up and Republicans don’t have the money, ironically, to, to spend to really compete in New Jersey.