The Realignment of 2004...and the road to 2006/08
I´m currently on vacation outside of Cancun, Mexico. I was here two years ago in Thanksgiving 2003 when W was headed into the final turn of his forthcoming 2004 campaign. My father asked me how I thought W would do. Democrat that he is, he was certain the GOP was headed for defeat.
My call: W by 52-48%.
In the end it was W 51, Kerry 48. Not too bad for one year out.
This year there is much hope among Democrats that they can retake the Hill.
Don´t bet the ranch on it. One year is a long time, and it´s always possible that the GOP could blow it. But 2004 looks like a realignment election that will set the Democrats in the minority for the next generation: with a moderately competent campaign the GOP suffers no more than customary off-year losses. They shoul hold both the House and the Senate (minus perhaps a dozen seats in House and two in the Senate), and set the stage for another major win in 2008.
The recent uproar in the House over Congressman Murtha simply digs the Democrats deeper into the same pit: they are once again perceived as the party that would rather quit than fight, and after September 11th that is a route to electoral defeat. Right now, the betting is that the GOP will suffer customary off-year setbacks in the Congress, but if 2006 is made a referendum on handing Iraq over to Al Qaeda, the Democrats might go down rather than up in numbers.
And 2008 looks increasingly bleak for the Democrats: Real Clear Politics publishes a poll showing that Hillary looks increasingly unbeatable among the Democrats...while opposition to her outside the Democratic party appears to be hardening: net anti-Hillary sentiment in the South and the Midwest runs 16-18 points, which is to say, she can´t reconstruct her husband´s coalition, and she can´t compete where it counts. The GOP will take the Midwest, the solid (GOP) South, and the White House.
On the GOP side, McCain has serious problems with his own party, but looks unbeatable in a national election. Among independents, pro-McCain sentiments ran 55-29.
Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt has a Thanksgiving day poll for the GOP:
I went for McCain on the first ballot, and Condi on the second.