Aug. 29, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

April Madness: Can GOP Win Back the House in 2010?

Cheerleading has its place, including on a high school or college basketball court. But not when it comes to political analysis.

Over the past couple of weeks, at least three Republicans — House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and campaign consultant Tony Marsh — have raised the possibility of the GOP winning back the House of Representatives next year.

That idea is lunacy and ought to be put to rest immediately.

None of the three actually predicted that Republicans would gain the 40 seats that they need for a majority, but all three held out hope that that’s possible. It isn’t.

“I don’t remove the prospect that we could take the majority back in 2010,” Cantor said at a breakfast with reporters early this month.

Gingrich recently told Roll Call contributing writer Nathan Gonzales that Democratic support for the budget and the stimulus bill could help the GOP “beat enough Democrats to get Republicans back into the majority.”

Tony Marsh, a consultant to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, went further in a Townhall.com piece. He argued that Republicans can win back the House next year by expanding the playing field, running smarter campaigns and offering a “contrasting and visionary message to America.”

Yes, Republicans have plenty of opportunities in good districts following their loss of 53 House seats over the past two cycles. And yes, there are signs that the Republican hemorrhage has stopped and even possibly that the party’s fortunes have begun to reverse course.

But there are no signs of a dramatic rebound for the party, and the chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero. Not “close to zero.” Not “slight” or “small.” Zero.

Big changes in the House require a political wave. You can cherry-pick your way to a five- or eight-seat gain, but to win dozens of seats, a party needs a wave.

Recruiting better candidates and running better campaigns won’t produce anything like what took place in 1980, 1994, 2006 and 2008, when waves resulted in huge gains for one party. The current political environment actually minimizes the chance of a near-term wave developing.

The problem for Republicans is that they aren’t yet in the position — and won’t be in one by November of next year — to run on a pure message of change, or on pent-up demand for change.

Waves are built on dissatisfaction and frustration, and there is little in national survey data that suggest most voters are upset with President Barack Obama’s performance or the performance of his party.

Obama’s job approval generally falls between 55 percent and 63 percent, and his personal favorable numbers are as strong or slightly better. The trend line on the right direction/wrong track question shows a growing optimism, as do attitudes about the direction of the economy.

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