The former Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee predicted Thursday that Republicans will take back the House as a result of protest votes against President Obama and said that would result in "gridlock on steroids."
Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who heads the Republican Main Street Partnership, a centrist GOP group, said he expects a net gain of 50-plus seats for Republicans in the House. The party needs a net gain of 39 to regain the majority.
"I don't want to tell you some of the Democrats I've talked to in the last couple of weeks who are just shocked at their numbers," Davis told reporters Thursday at the Capitol Hill Club. "They've got competitive races and no one knows it."
Still, Davis said once Congress begins its new term in January, he's not anticipating the GOP House leadership team and the White House agreeing on much of anything.
"You think this is gridlock? That's going to be gridlock on steroids," he predicted.
Davis also said the big Republican gains will come thanks to an unusually large "protest vote" against Obama and the Democratic leadership.
"This is not an affirmation of Republicans," said Davis. "We're an object [voters] can use as a protest."
Davis described the Tea Party as "an energy source for Republicans," and said Tea Party-backed wins against GOP party picks reflect the high level of anti-establishment fervor running through the electorate this year, as opposed to a more permanent shift to the right within the GOP itself.
The former congressman also said the environment could be ripe in 2012 for a viable third party or independent presidential candidate, and he mentioned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one possibility.
Davis said it would take a self-funder such as Bloomberg to take advantage of an opportunity to "blow up the two-party system."
New numbers from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll show a majority of likely voters would welcome a viable third party in American politics. That number is particularly high among self-identified independents, with 67 percent favoring a viable third party.