With Republican candidates polling strongly, pundits are starting to believe the GOP has a real shot at regaining control of not just the House, but the Senate as well in the November midterms. As voters fret about high unemployment, the possibility of a double-dip recession, and sky-high deficits, Democrats clearly face an uphill battle. But can Republicans really pick up enough seats to seize the Senate just two years after Democrats won a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority? (Watch an MSNBC report about the GOP's Senate chances)
The GOP can pull this off: A few months ago, "I'd have said no way," says Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. Then Republican Scott Brown claimed the late Democratic lion Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, and now the Dems are facing surprisingly "strong GOP candidates in California and Wisconsin." If other pieces fall into place ("a big if"), the GOP really could retake the Senate. "The wild card may be Republicans' own untested candidates (Rand Paul and Sharon Angle, for example)," and the degree to which voters fall prey to Democratic "tricks (George Bush! Abortion will be illegal!)."
"Senate up for grabs"
Democrats are starting to believe the doomsday scenarios: What's kept Democrats from panicking, says Mark Halperin in Time, was the shared belief that the midterm elections were so far off that they could still turn things around. But nothing they've tried — passing health reform to show they care about the middle class, passing financial reform to distance their regime from George Bush's — has eroded the anti-incumbent, anti-Obama sentiment that cost them the Massachusetts seat. Now time is short, and "Democrats are cracking."
"Dems start to panic as midterm reality sets in"
Republicans don't have an agenda to back up the hype: Sorry, I'm not buying the "Armageddon-for-Democrats scenario," says Joshua Green in The Atlantic. Democrats have delivered much of what they promised and, historically, the voters' tendency to gripe about the party in power decreases once it's clear the other party could actually take over. As that happens, voters will see that the Republicans simply don't have a "compelling alternative agenda." And you can't beat something with nothing.
"Has the GOP hit a wall?"
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