Democratic win now boots Republican chances in '08

Posted: Nov 13, 2006 11:47 AM
Democratic win now boots Republican chances in '08

As House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid, D-Nev., measure the drapes for their new suites, all eyes turn toward the 2008 election.

Will the 2006 Democratic sweep presage a Democratic victory in 2008, or was the 2006 election merely a referendum on President Bush's Iraq policy and congressional Republican incompetence?

Will President Bush's current unpopularity continue to dog the GOP? Can Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., ride the wave of 2006 into the White House, or will she face a serious challenger from within her own party?

Do the Republicans have a bona fide contender waiting in the wings?

If anything, the Democratic victory boosts Republican chances for 2008. Democrats have reason to celebrate their return to majority status, but there are dramatic silver linings for the Republican Party.

President Bush's popularity will begin to rise as soon as majority Democrats begin obstructing his agenda.

Republicans gained seats in the House and Senate in 2002 and 2004 because Americans perceived that Democrats were preventing fair hearings on President Bush's judicial nominees, blocking Social Security reform, preventing a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, and undermining the war effort.

When Republicans gained a 10-seat majority in the Senate and a 30-seat majority in the House in 2004, however, Americans expected results.

President Bush could not credibly claim that congressional catalepsy was the fault of Democrats, especially on issues like immigration reform. When the Republican-controlled Congress failed to act, Americans rightly took their frustration out on congressional Republicans.

With the Democrats back in power, President Bush can follow in the footsteps of another unpopular president: Harry Truman.

In 1946, Republicans ended a 14-year era of Democratic congressional domination by taking both the House and Senate.

Two years later, Truman campaigned against the Republican "do-nothing" Congress, pulling out a close election against New Yorker Thomas Dewey and leading the Democrats back to the congressional majority.