We have less than four weeks to midterm elections, and the sprint to the end is on. For those who follow politics, they're like the lead up to the Super Bowl or the World Series. While not quite as exciting as a presidential election, this year's midterm elections will determine which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate for the next two years.
Why is this an exciting year? Look at the numbers. Currently, the House is split between 255 Democratic and 178 Republican representatives. The Senate is split with 57 Democratic, two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party, and 41 Republicans.
Pollster and political prognosticator Charlie Cook is projecting that 204 House seats will remain Democratic, 185 will remain Republican, and 46 are up for grabs. He is forecasting a 40-seat GOP pickup in the House, which would result in Republican control of 225 seats (218 are required for the majority).
Cook's forecast for the Senate is for a Republican gain of seven to nine seats, which would result in a virtual stalemate between the parties.
Having worked in and observed the congressional campaigns of my father, Newt Gingrich, for 24 years, I know that it's the final sprint that matters. In the end, it's not who polled well in the summer, who had the momentum or who was trending this way or that. In politics, as in football and baseball, it's the final score -- and only the final score -- that matters. And, as in football and baseball, it often comes down to who can make the last few seconds count.
That's why, from now until Election Day, every minute given as a volunteer, every dollar given to a candidate, every activity in support of a candidate might mean the difference between who wins and who loses on Nov. 2.
It's intriguing that a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey released Tuesday "finds that only 29 percent of likely U.S. voters say they are more likely to contribute time or money to a political campaign this year," down nine points from April.
For conservatives, the good news is that 35 percent of Republicans "say they are more likely to give this year, compared to 23 percent of Democrats - -and 29 percent of voters not affiliated with either party."
The monetary and time commitment of Republicans is lower than the enthusiasm for voting reported by Gallup. "From Sept. 20-26, 48 percent of Republicans said they were very enthusiastic about voting, compared with 28 percent of Democrats."
For conservatives, it's time to reach down and find the strength to do more, to make sure conservatives win in the fall. There will be pundits and critics who will try to distract conservatives from issues and ideas to negative personal campaigning to prevent a conservative takeover, but conservatives should not be swayed.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better," said President Theodore Roosevelt in "The Man in the Arena" Speech at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
With everything we have going on in our daily lives -- grocery lists, bills to pay, clients to see, sales to make, laundry to do, and children to pick up, feed and put to bed -- it is easy to get overwhelmed and distracted.
I do every day.
But it's time to focus, to give a bit of time, a bit of money to candidates who are out in the arena fighting for us and for our nation.
Everything matters -- every minute volunteered, every dollar donated. It all makes a difference to the final outcome.
You can, and you will, make a difference -- get involved.