It is too early to say Dems will win in November
The only thing that can be said with any certainty about the 2006 midterm elections is that none of the top campaign forecasters is flatly predicting Republicans will lose the House or Senate -- yet.While gas prices appear to have voters upset, it should not be that hard to show that Democrats are the party of high gas prices and are responsible for restricting supply which is driving up prices.
President Bush's job approval polls are the lowest in his presidency; the Democrats are leading Republicans in the generic congressional election polls by an average of 13 percent; and voter surveys suggest a strong anti-incumbent tide is building. But leading analysts still think at this point that Republicans will hold on to majority control of both chambers, though with reduced numbers.
"The 2006 midterm elections are a political analyst's nightmare. The national climate seems to portend big changes, yet race-by-race analyses reveal formidable odds against a Democratic takeover of either the House or the Senate," veteran elections tracker Charlie Cook says in his latest National Journal election preview.
Several structural problems confront the Democrats in the House elections. Just three- to four-dozen House races out of 435 at stake are truly competitive. And among the 18 Republican seats that are open, only half are in districts where "Democrats have a remote chance of winning," Mr. Cook says. Making matters worse, the Democrats were able to recruit only second- or third-tier challengers in many key districts where the Republicans looked vulnerable.
Stuart Rothenberg, Mr. Cook's chief rival in the political predictions business, believes "the House definitely is in play" and has increased his estimate of likely Democratic gains "from 5-8 seats to 7-10 seats," short of the 15 seats needed to topple Republicans from power, though he thinks there could be "greater Democratic gains."
As for the six to eight Senate seats that are in play this year, there appear to be nearly as many races where Democrats are leading, as in Pennsylvania and Maryland, as races where Republicans are competitive, like Washington, Minnesota and New Jersey. Neither Mr. Cook nor Mr. Rothenberg see the Democrats taking control of the Senate, but they could make some gains in the GOP's 55-45 seat majority, they say.