Both have weak bullpens. According to the Washington Post, the GOP is having difficulty recruiting candidates to challenge vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbents in next year’s congressional elections. The Post reports that the party’s first choices have passed up potential challenges in West Virginia, North Dakota, Florida, Michigan, and Vermont.
Some of this can be laid at the feat of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. However, it is more likely that potential candidates are reading the tea leaves and deciding to sit this one out. Mid-term elections in a president’s second term are historically rough on the president’s party, with the exception of Bill Clinton’s second term, where the Democrats picked up 5 seats in the House and fought to a draw in the Senate. In contrast, the off-year election in Reagan’s second term (1986) is more typical, with the Democrats gaining 5 seats in the House and 8 seats–and the majority–in the Senate.
Reading current poll numbers for the president, for Congress, and for the war in Iraq would give me chills too, if I were a potential candidate. I don’t think the GOP is danger of losing both houses of Congress, as redistricting has made fewer seats competitive, but a narrower majority in both houses is quite likely.
First posted at In the Agora.