With help from President Barack Obama’s missteps and growing American unease with a new President, the Republican Party is coming back from the dead.
The party that flailed and failed after defeats in 2006 and 2008 is coming together on message and getting its act together with talk about gaining back lost ground in Congress in the 2010 mid-term elections and perhaps regaining the White House in 2012.
The optimism in the party of the elephant is a sharp contrast to the air of defeat that surrounded the GOP earlier this year.
Polls show Americans growing more and more wary of Obama’s free-spending, activist government agenda and impatient with his perceived failure to turn around the economy with a $787 stimulus program.
With unemployment expected to top 10 percent laster this year and Obama’s job approval rating headed south, Republicans see new hope for their party’s future.
Writes political handicapper Charlie Cook:
Divisions over health care among congressional Democrats became even more apparent this past week, underscoring the importance for President Obama and Democratic leaders to hit the reset button and start anew after Labor Day.
The fact that the congressional Democrats most nervous about 2010 are expressing the most doubt now should be a tipoff that this agenda is ringing up "no sale" outside the Democratic base. Obama is still defining his presidency and Democrats are defining their approach to governing. It would be hard for anyone to argue that either side is helping itself. Democrats are making the Republican case for divided government and partisan checks and balances, with consequences that could be important in next year’s midterm election.
While losing their majority in the Senate is a virtual impossibility, it would not be hard to see Democrats losing two or three seats, setting up real fights for control in 2012 and 2014, when Republicans have few seats at risk and Democrats have many.
In the House, while losing six to 12 seats for Democrats looks almost inevitable regardless of the climate, a loss of half the party’s 40-seat majority is not hard to envision if things go badly.
And things are going badly for Democrats on Capitol Hill and Obama at the other end of the National Mall. A concentrated campaign by Republicans attacking Obama’s policies and failures appears to be selling with the American people.
A new Gallup/USA Today poll shows only 47 percent of those questioned approve of Obama’s handling of the economy with 49 percent disapproving, a complete flip from May when 55 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved.
A Politico/Public Opinion Strategies poll finds 43 percent of Americans now have little or no trust in Obama, an 11-point increase since March.
Republican strategists tell Capitol Hill Blue the party will continue to hammer away at Obama’s failures to deal with the economy, his expensive and, they say, hopeless campaign to reform health care, and his many broken promises from his 2008 campaign.
House Minority Leader John Boehner underscored this plan of attack in a speech to the House recently:
Not only has the stimulus not worked and the economy not been rescued, but the president continues to promote policies that will create more unemployment in America. Obama’s planned government takeover of health care could cost five million more Americans their jobs.
The loss of five million jobs estimate came not from GOP propaganda but from Obama’s own Council of Economic Advisors.
Republicans see Obama’s health care plan as his weakest spot.
"It will be his Waterloo," Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina says. "It will break him."
And it just might. As public disapproval of Obama rises, so do contributions to the Republican Party. The Republican National Committee raised $8.9 million in June and has $23.7 million in the bank. By contrast, the Democratic National Committee raised $6.8 million and has just $13 million cash on hand.
In politics, however, fortunes change and momentum shifts quickly. Obama has 16 months to prove he is not a flash in the pan. That’s an eternity in the political world.