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8/17/2005

GOP in '06

From the NY Times via Daou Report:
Bad Iraq War News Worries Some in G.O.P. on '06 Vote

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - A stream of bad news out of Iraq - echoed at home by polls that show growing impatience with the war and rising disapproval of President Bush's Iraq policies - is stirring political concern in Republican circles, party officials said Wednesday.

Some said that the perception that the war was faltering was providing a rallying point for dispirited Democrats and could pose problems for Republicans in the Congressional elections next year.

Republicans said a convergence of events - including the protests inspired by the mother of a slain American soldier outside Mr. Bush's ranch in Texas, the missed deadline to draft an Iraqi Constitution and the spike in casualties among reservists - was creating what they said could be a significant and lasting shift in public attitude against the war.

The Republicans described that shift as particularly worrisome, occurring 14 months before the midterm elections. As further evidence, they pointed to a special election in Ohio two weeks ago, where a Democratic marine veteran from Iraq who criticized the invasion decision came close to winning in a district that should have easily produced a Republican victory.

...Republicans said they were losing hope that the United States would be effectively out of Iraq - or at least that casualties would stop filling the evening news programs - by the time the Congressional campaigns begin in earnest.

... Grover Norquist, a conservative activist with close ties to the White House and Mr. Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, said: "If Iraq is in the rearview mirror in the '06 election, the Republicans will do fine. But if it's still in the windshield, there are problems."

... Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the Republican Congressional campaign committee, said he believed that the war would fade as an issue by next year and that even if it did not the elections would, as typically the case, be decided by local issues.

...Some Republicans suggested that the White House was not handling the issue adroitly, saying its insistence that the war was going well was counterproductive.

"Any effort to explain Iraq as 'We are on track and making progress' is nonsense," Newt Gingrich, a Republican who is a former House speaker, said. "The left has a constant drumbeat that this is Vietnam and a bottomless pit. The daily and weekly casualties leave people feeling that things aren't going well."

...Daniel Yankelovich, a pollster who has been studying attitudes on foreign affairs, said: "I think what's changed over the last year is the assumption that Iraq would make us safer from terrorists to wondering if that actually is the case. And maybe it's the opposite."

...The other changing factor is the continued drop in Mr. Bush's job-approval rating that could make him less welcome on the campaign trail.

"If this continues to drag down Bush's approval ratings, Republican candidates will be running with Bush as baggage, not as an asset," Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, said. "Should his numbers go much lower, he is going to be a problem for Republican candidates in 2006."
I'll still be shocked to see anything even close to a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 (Kos et al. are delusional), but the fact that even GOPers are saying this kind of thing is big news indeed.

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