WASHINGTON, Oct. 25
While we wait for President Bush's 10:30 am ET press conference -- with a longish opening statement on Iraq expected -- please review The Note's First Principles of the 2006 midterm elections, all of which are well known to the commander in chief:
1. All that matters substantively and politically is who controls the House and Senate come January.
2. The overall national climate is fantastic for Democrats, who will gain seats in both the House and the Senate, and might not lose a single incumbent.
3. On the current trajectory, most Republican and Democratic strategists agree, Democrats will take control of the House, and end up with 48, 49, 50, 51, or 52 Senate seats.
4. There are no network/AP exit polls that allow the projection of House races.
5. This election has to a large extent been nationalized, which favors Democrats over Republicans.
6. President Bush's insistence on being prominent in the closing days of the election will reinforce the national nature of the contests, but, he hopes, nationalize them more around national security and taxes than around Iraq -- even when he talks about Iraq!!
7. All indications are that there will be no pre-election Foley revelations, ethics committee leaks, or ethics committee report that will stoke the page scandal to the detriment of either side.
8. Uttering the phrase "have you seen Drudge?" is not necessarily the only way to cover political news in America.
9. Despite the national climate -- as reflected in national public polls and most district and state private polls -- Republicans have a lot of fight left in them.
If you want to follow the subtle shifts, if you host your own conservative radio show, and/or if you blog in your pajamas, you need to start your day looking at the little wisps out there that might -- just might -- mean Republicans can keep from being completely massacred (while still losing seats).
A. The flaps over the RNC ad attacking Harold Ford and the Michael J. Fox ad are a three-fer for the Republicans:
1. They get the national debate focused away from Iraq. Every day for the next two weeks that the network news says the election is about ANYTHING but Iraq is a good day for George W. Bush's party. (Now: why President Bush plans to use a press conference to put Iraq front and center is beyond The Note -- and, we would say, beyond the many Senate and House candidates of the president's party. Note to Paul Begala: the POTUS must be putting nation ahead of politics, right?)
2. They give Republicans some sense of hope that their negative messaging might finally break through and define Democratic candidates as liberal and unacceptable.
3. They produce an Old Media reaction (pro-stem cell research, pro-Fox, pro-Hollywood, pro-Ford) that Republicans can use to go to the base and say, "Don't let the Old Media steal this election!"