Talk to voters in the traditional Republican strongholds of the heartland and you hear the same manta: The GOP has sold out their party, their principles and their country.
The real determining factor in this year’s midterm Congressional anger may be the anger of Republicans toward their own party and that anger could help Democrats on election day.
Reports Carolyn Lochhead of The San Francisco Chronicle:
Deep in south-central Missouri, where wooded cattle farms mingle with Wal-Marts, Jesus billboards dot the highways, radio runs from Rush Limbaugh to Dr. Laura and carrying a concealed weapon is legal, a rebellion is brewing — against Republicans.
"I’ve been basically a Republican, but I don’t plan to vote for any Republicans this year because I’m so disillusioned with the Bush administration," said Dan Hatch, a biology teacher and landowner who lives with his wife, Cookie, near this tiny speck of a town on Highway 63. "It was the rush into the war above all else."
Even Hatch’s mother-in-law, Ruth Moloney, a widowed cattle farmer and loyal Republican whose husband fought in World War II, wonders about President Bush.
"Well, I wish he hadn’t got us into this war," she said. "I’m really sorry that he did that, because I don’t know if it was necessary as far as terrorism goes. I think that man was awful hard on his people _ Saddam _ he was about like Hitler. But the way it’s turning out is awful."
The best test of whether such sentiments will translate into Republicans losing their House or Senate majority in November is right here, in a toss-up Senate race that pits two smart, seasoned politicians _ incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill, Democratic state auditor and a former prosecutor _ in a contest considered a barometer of whether Republicans can survive Iraq.
"This race is the purest test in the country of any tidal wave against Republicans in general, and President Bush in particular," said Dave Robertson, a political scientist at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
"As Missouri goes, so goes the nation," agreed veteran political scientist and pollster Kenneth Warren of St. Louis University. "There’s no question the rural base has been eroded" for Republicans. "The fact of the matter is in Missouri, the Iraq war is not popular."
Missouri is America’s mood mirror, a perfect reflection of North and South, West and East, black and white, cow towns and college towns, union halls and country clubs. It votes as happily for Democrats as Republicans _ but nearly always for the winner.
Missouri has voted for every winning presidential candidate _ including Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan _ since 1900, with just one exception (it voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956), and has done it by margins nearly matching the national vote. Bush’s vote here in 2004 was 0.1 percentage point off his national total.