Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Democratic Revolution in 2006?

The pundits seem to think the Dems will pick up congressional seats during the mid-term elections this fall, but most don't feel there will be a major changing of the guard in the House or Senate.

Interestingly, though, they said the same thing about the Republicans in 1994.

While it was commonly thought the GOP would pick up some seats in light of ethics charges waged against some Democratic House members and low approval numbers for President Clinton (averaging in the mid-40s, which seems astronomical compared to Bush), few predicted the 8-seat swing in the Senate and the 54-seat swing in the House that occurred that year.

But the similarities between 1994 and 2006 don't stop there.

The Pew Research Center recently completed a survey that showed 46% of Democrats are more enthusiastic about voting this year than usual, while only 30% of Republicans feel the same. When Pew asked voters that same question prior to the election in 1994, the results were 30% for Democrats and 45% for Republicans.

And when asked in 1994 whether they would like to see most congressional members reelected that year, 56% of respondents said "no." That number dropped to 30% in 1998 and 37% in 2002, but this year it's back up to 57%.

The big question remains, however, whether the Dems will be able to forge an agenda that has the rhetorical power of Newt's "Contract with America" (which fell flat legislatively).

Right now, based on the results of the Pew survey, the Dems are only exciting their ranks against Bush and the GOP rather than for a Democratic agenda. Notably, only 50% of Democrats responding to the survey approved of their party's leadership while the GOP leadership garnered a 58% approval rating from its ranks.

If the Dem leadership is looking for a hint about what voters view as important this election year, the Pew survey provides them some answers. The top three responses for what issues are personally "very important" to respondents were, in order, education (82%), the economy (80%), and health care (79%). Gay marriage, conversely, was dead last at 34%.

So there you have it, Dems -- it's time to get to it.

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