GOP House majority must be wary of ‘cranky electorate,’ consultant says

Jon Ward Contributor
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A political memo by a GOP consultant this week said a takeover of the House is all but assured, but warned that voters are “extremely cranky” and that House Republicans should keep in mind that how they behave in the majority will play a big role in whether President Obama gets reelected or not.

“As they begin to govern, Republicans will need to keep in mind that their favorability is under 50 percent,” wrote Sara Taylor Fagen, a former White House political director for President George W. Bush. “The electorate is extremely cranky and will likely remain this way for some time.”

To maintain control of the House, Fagen wrote, a Republican majority must realize that voters “will be slow to trust and quick to discard people they perceive as typical politicians.”

And, Fagen said, a House Republican majority will need to navigate carefully between a crafty White House – which will be eager to hand them responsibility for the economy and highlight any unwillingness to compromise – and the conservative grassroots, which is in no mood for bipartisan cooperation.

“Looking ahead to 2012, the national economy and the GOP’s choice of nominee will be the most important factors in the presidential race, but House Republicans will also have an impact on the party’s chance to win the presidency,” Fagen wrote in the three-page memo. “How the party positions itself both when working with and against the president will be a significant factor in whether or not a Republican can win in 2012.”

Fagen pointed out that while Obama’s favorability has dropped, “it’s at 45 percent, not 35 percent.”

“Today, President Obama would lose reelection. But, next year, he could easily be back above 50 percent.”

While much of Fagen’s memo focused on the House and Senate – she gives Republicans a “less than 50 percent” chance of taking the Senate – she said that the biggest impact of the 2010 midterm elections could be in state legislatures.

“We shouldn’t overlook what is likely to be the largest power shift at the state level in nearly a century,” Fagen said, predicting that Republicans will gain between 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.

Fagen said that the GOP could take control of the Alabama House and Senate, the Colorado House, the Indiana House, the Iowa House, the Maine Senate, the Michigan House, the New Hampshire House and Senate, the New York Senate, the North Carolina Senate, the Ohio House, the Pennsylvania House, and the Wisconsin House and Senate.

The makeup of state legislatures is especially important because after the 2010 Census, congressional districts will be redrawn based on new population statistics.

Texas will gain four House seats, Arizona will gain two, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Oregon will gain one, Ohio will lose two, and Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts will all lose one.

But Democrats do have one bright spot. “They could control the governor’s mansions in four of the five largest states,” Fagen wrote, referring to New York, California, Florida and Ohio, though she said she thinks Republican John Kasich will unseat Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

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