The Republican Party is struggling to stay afloat. Wednesday's loss in a very conservative Mississippi district marked the third straight congressional loss for the GOP. This loss cannot be attributed to bad candidates, as many perceived the first two losses in Illinois and Louisiana. According to Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, "What we've got is a deficiency in our message and a loss of confidence in the American people that we will do what we say we're going to do."
What the Republicans say they are going to do is quite sticky. “The Change You Deserve,” a new GOP slogan, was discovered to be a trademarked ad for an antidepressant drug called Effexor. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post writes:
"Are depression symptoms keeping you from where you want to be?" Effexor's maker, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, asks in its promotions. "Not feeling as good as you used to?"
For House Republicans, the diagnosis is obvious: They are suffering from Election Anxiety Disorder. Tuesday night, they lost the third special election in a row to Democrats in heavily Republican congressional districts. Eighty-two percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, and they're largely holding President Bush and his party responsible. This week, panicked House Republicans defied Bush and voted with Democrats to pass a farm bill and to divert oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Voters are showing signs of “depression symptoms.” In the coming elections this fall, Republicans could lose a great number of seats. Karl Rove speculates that the GOP could lose as many as 25 seats:
Why is it tough sledding for Republicans? Public revulsion at GOP scandals was a large factor in the party's 2006 congressional defeat. Some brand damage remains, as does the downward pull of the president's approval ratings. But the principal elements are the Iraq war and a struggling economy.
Republican leaders are admitting their party’s difficulties in the face of public dismay. Democrats need to seize this opportunity with clear-cut strategies to win in the coming months. The Washington Post released a list of most endangered Republican seats. If the Democrats win a net-gain of nine seats in the Senate, the majority will be filibuster-proof. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters “Democrats, not drugs, is what the American People need.” We know what we need, let’s make it happen.