Although trying to play Nostradamus with U.S. politics is always a risky endeavor, particularly this early in a political cycle, the odds would seem to heavily favor a GOP comeback in 2010.
Here's why the smart money should be on Elephants instead of Donkeys:
1) History is on our side: Typically, the party in power loses "23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president’s first midterm election."
Certainly, that's not always the case. For example, George Bush actually gained seats in the post-9/11 environment that the GOP ran in back in 2002, but you've still got to love our chances.
2) The GOP is starting to pull it together: Throughout George Bush's time in office, particularly in his last term, the GOP was a pile of mush that tried to please everyone and as a result, ended up pleasing no one. They talked ceaselessly about cutting the size of government, cutting the deficit, and enforcing immigration laws even as they expanded government, pumped up the deficit, and worked towards amnesty and open borders.
However, in the first two months of the Obama Administration, we've seen Republicans put teeth behind their rhetoric for the first time in eight years. For example, no Republican in the House and only three in the Senate voted for the Stimulus Bill while not a single Republican in Congress supported Obama's extravagant budget. For the first time in years, voters are being genuinely presented with a clear, unequivocal choice: capitalism or socialism? Out-of-control deficits that destroy America economically or fiscal responsibility? A government that believes in limits on its power or power-hungry statists who want to take permanent government control of banking, finance, the auto industry, the Internet, and health care? In a center-right country, that sort of clarity favors us.
3) The economy: Although we can be certain that the economy will eventually recover, probably some time between late 2009 and early-to-mid 2010 (although who really knows), the public's perception of the economy generally lags far behind actual economic growth.
In other words, even if the economy improves by mid-2010 and the media trumpets it to the skies, the public still may be skeptical -- and the Democrats would be sure to get the blame. Couple that with a housing market that is likely years away from getting back to 2008 numbers, gas prices that are likely to rise, a jobless rate at 8.5% and rising, and a level of debt that has grown so large that it imperils the continued prosperity of our country -- and economic worries are still likely to be very prevalent in November of 2010.
4) How much lower can the Republicans go?: We are still a two-party country and after a couple of stupendously bad election cycles in a row, how much farther is the GOP even capable of falling at this point, absent a Whig-style complete meltdown? Just look at the numbers in the House:
Right now, we know that there are at least 70 if not more Democrats who sit in red districts....there are only five Republicans in districts that John Kerry won in 2004.
The numbers aren't quite as bleak for the Democrats in the Senate, but clearly, almost all the low hanging fruit has already been picked in the last two elections.
5) No Bush: George Bush was the leader of the Republican Party and with his approval in the low thirties in late 2006 and in the mid-twenties in late 2008, it was like every Republican running for office had strapped his boot laces to the Titanic. In 2010, the GOP isn't going to have one of the least popular Presidents in American history as its front man.
6) Barack Obama isn't going to be on the ballot: Obama will certainly be able to help the Democrats in 2010, even if his popularity has dropped significantly from where it is today, by raising money and doing campaign appearances. So, unless the bottom has completely fallen out of his presidency, he should be an asset for them.
However, he is not going to be on the ballot and thus far, he has shown little ability to mobilize his supporters to do anything other than vote for him. Will young voters and black voters turn out to vote if Obama isn't on the ticket?
Probably not. In fact, Obama may have a lot of trouble turning them out himself in 2012. After all, voting the first black President into office was a history-making event. Doing it again, on the other hand, would just be a boring vote for more-of-the-same.
7) Barack Obama's radicalism: So far, Obama has turned out to be worse than the worst case scenario that the GOP posited during the 2008 election. He is on pace to run up a larger deficit than every other U.S. President combined, he has repealed welfare reform, he's trying to take over and micromanage large segments of the economy, and via Cap and Trade he has proposed the largest tax increase in history -- one that would hit the poor and middle class particularly hard.
Even though Obama has been in office for less than ninety days, a lot of people who pulled the lever for him are probably already wishing there were more Republicans in office to help keep him from governing like such a Hugo Chavez wannabe.