WASHINGTON – When the Republican revolution swept through Congress in 1994,it was obvious the country was tired of the Democratic leadership that controlled Capitol Hill for four decades.
This November won't be the same for the GOP.
According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll,54 percent of Americans trust Democrats to do a better job in Congress,compared to 35 percent who trust Republicans.
Despite “cut and run” rhetoric and the Democrats' weak image on national security – a modern-day election staple – Republicans just can't seem to catch a break in the waning days before Nov. 7.
Norm Ornstein,a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute,said there will be a “strong wind against the backs of Democrats” this election. But will it be a breeze or a Katrina?
The Republican troubles have piled up over the years: an increasingly unpopular foreign policy,a broken contract with America and former congressman Mark Foley,who sent salacious online messages to teenage pages. And let's not forget that word macaca – whatever it means – that has roiled the Virginia Senate campaign.
But disapproval of Republican leadership is nothing new. In the Post/ABC poll,66 percent said the U.S. is on the wrong track,about the same as a year ago.
Polls have Congress' approval rating at dismal levels,too. Last month,it was as low as 20 percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The Post/ABC poll conducted last week had it at 32 percent.
The 109th Congress has been labeled the most do-nothing Congress in modern history,which is difficult to understand,considering Republicans control both chambers – a fact Democrats don't hesitate to trumpet.
“What we know is the terrain is favorable to Democrats,” Ornstein said.
If you add in a presidential approval rating that has been consistently hovering in the mid-to-high-30s and an increasingly unpopular war that former generals are openly criticizing as the body count continues to rise,this could be a good year for Democrats – even challengers running against GOP incumbents.
Take first-term Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania's 8th District,for example. He's running against Patrick Murphy,an Iraq war veteran who's been a vocal critic of the war he helped fight. Despite the 8th District's Republican majority,Murphy is nicking Fitzpatrick in the polls.
Even family-values friendly Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is in the race of his life. Why? He's running against State Treasurer Bob Casey,a centrist pro-life Democrat who has a double-digit lead in the polls.
But a few feisty Democratic challengers aren't all of the Republicans' problems.
Perhaps it's because members of the GOP breached that contract they signed with America in 1994 – the one that demanded small,unobtrusive government. Unfortunately for the GOP's sake,it was the Republicans who drove the national debt to nearly $9 trillion in just a few years.
Republicans can blame Bill Clinton and Sept. 11 all they want. But whatever happened to running government like a business?
The final blow to the GOP was probably the Foley bombshell – with the help of an alleged cover-up among top GOP officials – that could dismantle the Republican tent that so dramatically took over the Hill in 1994.
So will it be a category 5 or just a breeze at the backs of the Dems this November? From where we are right now,it looks like a storm is brewing.
But then again,we're only midway through October. Who knows what other surprises are around the corner?