“Lady Luck and four leaf clovers” may not be enough to pull the GOP’s hold on the House off the shaky ground they are standing on. Everyday it seems that more and more voters are growing weary of the fact that the GOP is forcing more and more people into “harder times” that they “haven’t seen in years.” It’s the culmination of so many issues, it seems and a generalized feeling that so many have that the GOP has just been hell bent on putting the average American down.
Raye Haug, a retired librarian in northern Virginia, for years happily voted to reelect her longtime congressman, Republican Frank R. Wolf. But the GOP record of the last six years — on foreign policy, the economy and the environment — has so soured Haug that she wants to vote for a Democrat in this year’s midterm election.
“I don’t think I’ve ever before been willing to vote for someone just because of their party affiliation,” said Haug, who walked precincts one sweltering Saturday for Judy Feder, Wolf’s Democratic opponent, even though she knew little about her.
Labor Day begins the season of intense campaigning gearing up for the Nov. 7 election. In this year’s mid elections, “the political landscape is crowded with disgruntled voters like Haug, who tell pollsters they don’t like the direction the country has taken under President Bush and Republican rule in Congress.”
Most voters are just now beginning to pay attention to the campaign, but candidates and their advisors have been mobilized for months. After 12 years of Republican dominance, Democrats have their best shot in years at winning control of Congress — especially the House.
Early this year, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report identified 42 House Republican seats as competitive; now it lists 55. The analysis sees only 20 House Democrats in competitive races. Democrats, who need to gain 15 seats to win control, also have narrowed Republicans’ traditional advantage in fundraising.
The mood of the electorate continues to be clouded by deteriorating conditions in Iraq.
“That’s a recipe for a GOP disaster, and there is no reason to believe that things will change dramatically between now and election day to improve Republican prospects,” said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of a nonpartisan newsletter that recently predicted a Democratic takeover of the House.
The Senate remains more firmly in Republican hands, but even GOP strategists fear their party could reduce their 55-45 margin of control.
The L.A. Times takes a look at the races to watch here.