The Republicans were recently able to raise themselves out of the muck long enough to capture a Senate seat in Massachusetts. Amazed at their own success, they speak now of retaking Congress. The sky is the limit. Meanwhile the Democrats are in despair.
But not so fast. I suspect that the Republicans have peaked too early, and have given time for the Democrats to recover before November.
I am going to go against the prevailing winds, and predict that the Democrats will hold their own in November 2010. Here is my thinking.
First, the Democrats will say and do anything they need to win. And they have time to say it.
Second, Obama will transmogrify over the next year. You watch. He has already improved his message since the Massachusetts special Senate election. Sure, he is spending the nation into ruin, but he has started to say the right things, which is all that will be reported, and he is already developing an approach for dealing with the Republicans.
Obama has spent the time since his election attempting to actually govern, and has largely been a failure. His inexperience is on full display. His inability to herd legislation through Congress is astonishing, especially considering the overwhelming majorities his party holds. At this point, he couldn't get Congress to pass a resolution saying they like the American flag, motherhood, or apple pie.
But over the next year he will be shifting from attempting to govern, at which he is lousy, to campaigning, which is something at which he is very, very good. I mean, he came from nowhere (and I mean nowhere) and defeated the Clinton machine, for crissakes! He did this because he has the ability to listen to his advisers, and to adjust his message on the fly, as needed. Being really good at reading from the teleprompter doesn't hurt, either.
So what does it mean to transmogrify? It means that Obama will be shape-shifting from governing (failure), to campaigning (winner). Expect to see less governing and more scoring points. This point scoring may be subtle.
For example, the Republicans in Congress must maintain their steadfast opposition to Obama to satisfy their base. Knowing this, Obama will work to appear more and more reasonable. Once again, he will gradually start to appeal to the solution-hungry independents. The stupid Republicans will be backed into a trap. QED.
Third, the Republicans are a mob, and the Democrats have a leader. A few weeks ago, Obama was asked what the difference was between Democratic failure in 1994 and now. He answered, "Me."
Now, upon hearing this, I rolled my eyes along with everyone else who probably isn't related to, or married to, Obama. But maybe we all shouldn't have. He is a skilled campaigner, and has the bully pulpit to set the tone. The Republicans are still recovering from their reputation from the last time they were in power. Plus, they have no clear leader, and are pulled in several directions by talk show hosts, myriad uninspiring Congressmen, and assorted hangers-on.
Meanwhile, the nation's best campaigner will be in his natural element, transmogrifying from a failing manager to a focused vote-getter.