Exclusive Political Climate in Washington Doesn't Yet Resemble Trouble for GOP

Evans-Novak Political Report

January 4, 2006
Washington, D.C.
Vol. 41, No. 1a

To: Our Readers

In This Issue

  • Dean’s DNC continues to close the fundraising gap with the RNC
  • Democrats trying to figure out how to handle their ‘Nancy Problem’
  • Our Election Scorecard looks at possible Democrat and Republican pickups in 2006
  • Sen. Trent Lott could determine if the GOP keeps its Senate majority


The major question facing the political world as the New Year begins: Is there really a growing consensus that the political climate for ’06 resembles the mood in ’94, when it became clear that there would be a turnover in control of Congress? No, not yet anyway. In the meantime, these issues currently are on the surface.

  1. The guilty plea of lobbyist Jack Abramoff cuts two ways. First, it strikes fear in the hearts of members of Congress — mainly Republicans, but also some Democrats — that they will be implicated in the prosecution as recipients of Abramoff’s favors. Second, the overriding sense of scandal in Washington looks like a negative for Republicans in ’06 as a similar climate was for Democrats in ’52.
  2. The call by former Speaker Newt Gingrich for the election of a permanent House Republican leader intensified pressure to formally replace Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). It looks like payback time for Gingrich, who blames DeLay for his own fall from power.
  3. The Left is waging a much tougher campaign against the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court than it did against Chief Justice John Roberts, mainly because Alito has a much longer judicial paper trail. This may yet reach the point where Republicans have to use the "nuclear option" to cut off a filibuster.
  4. The new Medicare prescription drug subsidy, which was supposed to bring seniors into the Republican fold, has all the earmarks of a disaster for the GOP. It will be a major factor in the prospective swelling of the budget deficit, but its big political downside is its complexity. Seniors are just not signing up for it.

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