Looking at the electoral scoreboard come November, I've become something of a depressed Democrat.
The American populace has been loud and clear. They aren't happy with our nation's direction. Depending on the poll -- including one conducted for Fox News Channel -- between 60 and 68% of the country is unsatisfied with President Bush's leadership. A larger percentage has grown tired of Vice President Cheney. Nearly 60% of the nation's voters say they want the Democrats to regain control of Congress.
Scandals plague the Republican Party. By the time voters head to the polls in November, Karl Rove may be indicted, Tom DeLay and former White House Advisor Claude Allen
may be punished, other Republicans
may be in trouble for playing Casanova at the Watergate Hotel, still more Republicans may be identified in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and still more Republicans may be punished for their ties to the phone-jamming scandal
in New Hampshire.
Americans aren't happy about paying $3 for a gallon of gas, remain upset at how FEMA handled Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and scratched our heads at the tin ear the Bush Administration showed at everything from Vice President Cheney's hunting accident to why the administration supported transferring management of U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates.
Even the Bush Administration has stopped pretending the Iraq War -- entered for questionable reasons, a majority of us believe -- will end anytime soon. It's a far cry from "Mission Accomplished," uttered
three years ago today. It's a far cry from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's sarcastic quip way back when that the war would take "five weeks or five months
," now President Bush is suggesting the war will be ended by a "future president
" The war has become the "quagmire" Rumsfeld said
it wouldn't, and the American people have noticed.
And thankfully, a majority of Americans don't buy into the conservative-fringe argument that Democrats are rooting for high death tolls, or unsupportive of the troops. Conservatives have little to turn to other than fear, and convincing Americans that Democrats are un-American and/or incompetent (more incompetent?) is a key component of that strategy.
(Psst.: Democrats seek competence
in our management of the war, as well as the greater issues of national security. Unfortunately, too many reporters continue to repeat the conservative spin
that the Democrats lack a plan.)
So why am I a depressed Democrat?
Because in spite of a deck increasingly stacked in their favor, the Democrats face an uphill battle to regain control of either the House or Senate. Forget the will of the people, or the quality of the incumbents. The math just isn't easy.
In the Senate, 33 seats will be on the ballot in November, 17 of them currently in Democratic hands, 15 controlled by Republicans, and one held by Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT). Democrats now have 44 Senate seats and need to pick up seven to gain a majority, six if Vermont independent Bernie Sanders replaces Jeffords. Most analysts say that a huge Democratic turnout, or a particularly weak Republican turnout, could make the difference. Still, the odds suggest the Democrats will make up ground, but not regain control.
Meanwhile, all 435 House seats are on the ballot this fall, and Democrats need to pick up at least 15 to become the majority party and take control of the House. But redistricting by Republicans (some legally questionable) has made it possible for only about 25 seats to be competitive. A revolution, a la the one led by Newt Gingrich (R-GA) 12 years ago, is unlikely.
"If this election comes down to the individual, race-by-race, case-by-case campaigns, like we've seen for the last four cycles, the Democrats don't have enough top-tier candidates to win 15 seats," Amy Walters, a House political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report
the Washington Post
But again, if turnout is huge for Democrats or paltry for Republicans, the Democrats "do have enough second- and third-tier candidates who can ride a wave," she said.
It is what it is. Six months is a lifetime in politics. But for the will of the people to be served, the American people will have to turn disatisfaction with Republican control into a modern-day voter revolt.
Otherwise, it will be more of the same. Or maybe it will get worse.