- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2010

Independent voters who powered President Obama to victory in 2008 have deserted his party this year, all but guaranteeing that Republicans will win control of the House in Tuesday’s elections, though analysts said self-inflicted wounds likely will keep the GOP from winning the Senate.

The final pre-election Gallup poll found likely voters preferring Republicans to Democrats 55 percent to 40 percent — a staggering record margin for the GOP that feeds predictions that Republicans could win upward of 60 seats in the House and more than a half-dozen seats in the Senate.

If those numbers materialize, it would mark the third straight election to create massive turnover in Washington, reflecting a spectacularly unsettled electorate desperately in search of politicians who can get things done, said former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who ran House Republicans’ campaign committee in the 2000 and 2002 elections.

“You had a dozen years where there’s been no good news for Americans. Most political parties, political institutions, failed them. The dot-com bust, two wars, Katrina, the economic meltdown on Wall Street and foreclosures and high unemployment; real wages have not increased in 20 years,” Mr. Davis said.

All of that has weighed particularly on independent voters, who are poised to ride the pendulum back to the GOP.

“Two years ago, we won independents by 8 percent. We’re now losing them by about 20,” Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat who retired rather than seek re-election this year, said on MSNBC. “And when we lost Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, for goodness’ sake, that should have been a real wake-up call.”

Other Democrats, though, said things are not looking so bad.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who is chairman of House Democrats’ campaign committee, said early voting results suggest that voters are not as discouraged as polls indicate. He predicted that Democrats will not lose the 39 seats that would cost them control of the House, much less lose the five dozen seats or more that some analysts project.

Mr. Van Hollen’s optimism was not shared by the 90 Democratic “political insiders” surveyed by National Journal, 81 percent of whom said the GOP will win the House. Among Republican insiders, National Journal found every single one predicted the party will capture the House.

In the Senate, the chairman of Republicans’ campaign committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said he doubts his party will win the 10 seats needed to achieve a majority in that chamber — a 50-50 split, paired with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s tie-breaking vote, would leave the Senate under Democratic control — but said it’s a springboard to two years from now.

“I think we don’t get the majority back, but we come awfully close. And we finish the job in 2012,” Mr. Cornyn said on NBC’s “Today” program.

In the next election cycle, 19 Democrats and two independent senators who caucus with the party will be up for re-election, compared with 10 Republican senators.

Republicans argue that the 2010 elections are a referendum on Mr. Obama’s first two years in office, and on the health care, financial regulation and $814 billion stimulus spending bills he signed into law.

Mr. Obama has spent much of October traveling the country raising funds and campaigning for Democrats, and pleading with voters not to abandon his party after just two years of work.

On Monday, though, Mr. Obama kept a low profile, remaining out of sight at the White House while making phone calls to campaign volunteers in battleground states and taping interviews, including one with radio show host Ryan Seacrest, who also hosts the “American Idol” television program.

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