Former President Bill Clinton’s top political strategists, who had a front-row seat for the Republicans’ 1994 electoral successes, said Wednesday that the GOP today is peaking too early and is unlikely to see a repeat performance this November.
Pollster Stan Greenberg said a “change election,” as political scientists call major shifts in electoral preferences, already happened when Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat, and between then and November, Democrats will have gained back ground.
“When we look back on this, we’re going to say Massachusetts is when 1994 happened,” Mr. Greenberg said.
He said Democrats still will lose seats in Congress, and if the election were to take place today, it would be a “change election” that would devastate Democrats. But he said that with seven months until Election Day, Republicans will falter and Democrats will improve slightly.
“It’s still going to be a tough election, and it’ll be marginally better than it is now, but I don’t think we’re 1994,” he said.
They both said a major difference between 1994 and this year is that in the earlier campaign Republicans emerged from every policy fight with a strengthened brand image. This year, Mr. Greenberg said, both parties are less popular than they were in 1994 and Republicans in particular are suffering from each policy fight.
Mr. Carville predicted Republicans will net about 25 House seats and six or seven Senate seats — not enough to give them control of either chamber, but enough to drop Democrats’ margins dramatically.
He said, though, that this will be the third election in a row where a party has scored those big congressional wins, following Democrats’ double-dip successes of 2006 and 2008, and said voters are profoundly unhappy.