Monday, September 04, 2006

Wishful Thinking, Pollyannaism, or What?

With the omnipresence of electronic voting technology -- mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 -- I have to wonder whether predictions like this are pollyannaish at best.

After a year of political turmoil, Republicans enter the fall campaign with their control of the House in serious jeopardy, the possibility of major losses in the Senate, and a national mood so unsettled that districts once considered safely Republican are now competitive, analysts and strategists in both parties say.

Sixty-five days before the election, the signs of Republican vulnerability are widespread.

Indiana, which President Bush carried by 21 percentage points in 2004, now has three Republican House incumbents in fiercely contested races. Around the country, some of the most senior Republicans are facing their stiffest challenges in years, including Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Florida, the veteran Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, a state increasingly symbolic of this year's political unrest; and Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the No. 4 Republican in the House.

Two independent political analysts have, in recent weeks, forecast a narrow Democratic takeover of the House, if current political conditions persist. Stuart Rothenberg, who had predicted Democratic gains of 8 to 12 seats in the House, now projects 15 to 20. Democrats need 15 to regain the majority. Charles Cook, the other analyst, said: "If nothing changes, I think the House will turn. The key is, if nothing changes." ...

A turnover in the Senate, which would require the Democrats to pick up six seats, is considered a longer shot. Democrats' greatest hopes rest with Pennsylvania, Montana, Rhode Island, Ohio and Missouri; the sixth seat is more of a leap of faith.

It would require Democrats to carry a state like Tennessee, Arizona or Virginia, where Democratic hopes are buoyed as Senator George Allen, a Republican, deals with the fallout from his using a demeaning term for a young man of Indian descent at a rally last month.

Democrats must also beat back Republican challenges to Senate seats in Washington, New Jersey, Maryland and Minnesota.

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