Feehery: A surprising Republican wave election could be looming
Political waves come unexpectedly.
That is especially the case when it comes to the House of Representatives.
In 1994, nobody expected the House to flip to the Republicans for the first time in 40 years.
The Contract with America was seen as a curiosity, Rep. Newt Gingrich’s (R-Ga.) vanity project. The media roundly lampooned it. And then November rolled around and history was made.
In September 2006, George Bush wasn’t that popular, the Iraq War wasn’t going that well, but most pundits and most Republicans thought the House would hold. Then the Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) scandal consumed Washington, and Nancy Pelosi was swept in as history’s first female Speaker of the House.
In September 2010, after the Tea Party summer, the smart set still didn’t see how the future would unfold. I remember seeing an analysis from an investment bank which confidently predicted that the House would stay in Democratic hands. Oops.
The election of 2018, perhaps, was more predictable. The Democrats raised unprecedented gobs of money and mounted unprecedented opposition to the unpredictable presidency of Donald J. Trump. But that new House majority was built on an unsteady foundation of districts that were initially captured by Trump two years before.
Most analysts now believe that Trump will lose his bid for reelection and Pelosi will stay on as Speaker.
But I wonder if that is true.
What are the Democrats running on?
Well, the smart ones are running on health care, the same issue that carried them to victory in 2018.
But the top of the ticket isn’t focused on health care. It is focused on hating Donald Trump.
Will hating Trump work in districts that went for Trump the first time?
I don’t know.
It certainly works on raising money from the uber-wealthy, who despise Trump because he is a traitor to their class.
But for normal Americans — those who want to get back to work, those who want their schools to reopen quickly, those who want to be able dine outside without getting harassed by mask marauders disguised as social justice warriors, those who respect the police and the American flag — hating Trump isn’t the main message they want to hear.
I look at the middle of Michigan in the 8th and the 11th districts, and I see voters who voted for President Trump but also voted for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and I wonder if they are so enamored with the ridiculous lockdowns that have closed small businesses and penalized citizens who wanted to visit their cottages and do some recreational boating. The fact that the governor’s husband pulled a “do you know who I am?” when he tried to get in his own boat only made the situation worse for the Democrats in the Wolverine State.
I look at Minnesota’s 2nd District, and I think of how the riots in Minneapolis play in a part of the country that values law and order and believes strongly in the ideal of Minnesota nice. They might not love Trump there, but he beat Hillary Clinton by point and a half in the district and Republicans are investing serious resources to win the state for the first time since Nixon in 1972.
I look at New Jersey’s 7th District, and I see a scion of famous governor, running on the Republican ticket in a state that was hard hit by COVID-19. The current governor has used sky-high ratings to consolidate power and push a left-wing agenda that is just now starting to garner strong opposition. Trump lost the district by a point, and most analysts see Tom Kean losing. But these are the type of districts that move quickly in a wave.
The voters are restless to get on with their lives, disgusted by a political class that continually flouts the laws in private as they tout them public. Pelosi’s “hairgate” is but one example of politicians behaving badly.
Joe Biden is all about American calm again, as he sluggishly campaigns with his mask and his teleprompter.
But if Trump’s energy, enthusiasm and vision prevails in November, look for Republicans to catch a ride and recapture the House majority. Waves are hard to see in September but rise up quickly in November.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).