Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s bold prediction last week that Republicans could regain Congress in 2010 came as a surprise to most pundits and political observers. But it's not necessarily wishful thinking.
Yes, Republicans have had two abysmal cycles in which the GOP lost 51 seats in the House, lost the Senate, lost control of many state legislatures, and lost the Presidency. How you ask can Republicans take back Congress?
First off, most signs point to 2010 being a good year for Republicans, though admittedly, in the last two cycles the Grand Old Party looked more old than grand. The silver lining: the GOP today has nowhere to go but up. And with the election of Michael Steele as RNC Chairman, there’s a new, more vibrant (albeit less conventional face) on the GOP.
Michael Steele’s election may not alone be enough. But in combination with over-reaching by the Democrats and an economy still in the tank, Republicans may have gotten the boost needed to assure a reasonably decent year.
The difference between a great year and a decent year may depend heavily on whether Republicans adopt the strategy Steele pushed in his race for Chairman.
Steele advocated three new approaches to win in 2010. First, expand the playing field by recruiting great candidates in every district for every office. Second, run smarter campaigns that use all the means available to push a message including a renewed emphasis on volunteers and upgraded use of technology. And finally, offer a motivational, contrasting and visionary message to America.
Solid candidate recruitment is the foundation of a Republican resurgence. Like the lottery, when it comes to campaign politics, if you don’t play, you can’t win. When parties recruit strong candidates, they expand the number of messengers for their cause into new communities. Chairman Steele knows that the best outreach starts with articulate and compelling personalities willing to convey a message that contrasts strongly with the Democrat message of victimization and government entitlement.
Given what promises to be a tough fundraising year for Republicans, there certainly is a place for targeting resources. But with a huge Republican wave like that which might well develop in 2010, these could be the cheapest seats the Republican Party has ever won. You don’t have to spend much to win votes from those ready to take up pitchforks against your opponents.