GOP To Control Congress?
by Susan Ferrechio
Issue 210– August 29, 2012
With Congress embarking on a monthlong recess despite its failure to act on several critical issues, Democrats unleashed a pre-election public relations assault, accusing Republicans of ignoring the middle class, abandoning bipartisanship and instead catering to the wealthy and the far-right Tea Party.
The strategy looks tough on paper, and might resonate with voters frustrated with persistent congressional gridlock.
But it may not be enough to prevent Republicans from winning total control of Congress in November by seizing control of the Senate.
“I’m leaning toward thinking that the Republicans will have a majority in both houses of Congress,” pollster Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group, told The Washington Examiner.
Three months out from the election, Republicans have a clear numbers advantage. They hold a 49-seat advantage in the House and while Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate, 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs in November are held by Democrats. Seven of those Democratic seats are considered “toss-ups” within Republican reach, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Only three GOP Senate seats are considered toss-ups.
“The big thing helping Republicans is that they have less than half as many seats up for re-election in the Senate as the Democrats do,” Faucheux said. “And in the House, they have a big enough majority that they can afford to lose seats and still keep control.”
|Too close to call|
|House and Senate races to watch to see who will control Congress next year:|
|Sen. Jon Tester, Mont.|
|Sen. Jim Webb (retiring), Va.|
|Rep. Kathy Hochul, N.Y.-27|
|Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah-4|
|Rep. John Tierney, Mass.-6|
|Rep. Mark Critz, Pa.-12|
|Sen. Dean Heller, Nev.|
|Sen. Scott Brown, Mass.|
|Rep. Dan Lungren, Calif.-7|
|Rep. Charlie Bass, N.H.-2|
|Rep. Joe Jeck, Nev.-3|
|Rep. Leslie Biggert, Ill.-11|
Even if voters favor President Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, Republicans further down the ballot may be OK, Faucheux said.
“Voters who hold their nose and vote for Obama but have concerns may be looking for ways down ballot to check that vote,” he said.
For House Democrats, regaining control they lost in 2010 has been an uphill battle. Their one potential advantage is the fierce infighting between establishment Republicans and Tea Party freshmen.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earlier this year claimed control of the House was within Democrats’ reach, and even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in April “there’s a one-in-three chance we could lose” in November.
But when reporters pressed Boehner about those odds last week, he had a much brighter outlook.
“I’m feeling better,” Boehner said. “Our members have worked hard. Frankly, our candidates and challengers out there, a lot of them have been through tough primaries. And I feel good about where we are as a team.”
It’s possible Republicans could retain control of the House but still lose some seats this fall. And Democrats plan to use the monthlong break to make the case to voters that the Republican majority has failed them.
Democrats intend to blame Republicans for a lack of action on several crucial issues in Congress, including the failure so far to extend tax cuts that expire at year’s end and their inability to strike a deficit deal that would allow lawmakers to avoid $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts, including deep cuts in defense spending. Lawmakers said action on those issues could be delayed until after the election.
“Over the course of the next few weeks,” House Democratic leaders wrote to members last week, “we have an opportunity to speak directly to our constituents and update them on the miserable record of this Republican majority.
Susan Ferrechio is Chief Congressional Correspondent for The Washington Examiner, where this first appeared.