Panel on the Republicans' Midterm Prospects

Panel on the Republicans' Midterm Prospects

By Special Report With Bret Baier - April 1, 2010


PRESIDENT OBAMA: They're going to run on a platform of repeal in November. And my attitude is, go for it. You try to repeal it.



CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: President Obama on the campaign trail in Maine today, selling health care reform and the Congressional Democrats who voted for it.

Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Let's look at some numbers from a new Gallup/USA Today poll out today. Here they are. A record low 28 percent say most members of Congress deserve reelection, 28 percent. The Tea Party has favorable rating of 37 percent. As you can see, that is almost as high as the favorability for the Democrats and the Republican parties.

And in the generic ballot question, voters choose Republicans by just one point over Democrats.

Interestingly enough, though, when he added all that up, Bill Clinton's former pollster Stanley Greenberg said this looks like a change election and could be as big as 1994 when the Democrats lost more than 50 seats. Fred Barnes, how does it look to you?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It looks like it could be 1994, a big election like that, a sweep for Republicans, a landslide, but not necessarily. Republicans will have to have things they have to do.

Remember what midterm elections are about. They're not about persuasion, and I think the lines are set. People won't warm up to Obama- care and independents won't sweep the Democrats all of a sudden. It's not about persuasion; they're about turn-out.

So the Republicans have a majority out there, but they have to keep up the fervor and excitement all the way to November 4, 5, early November. Anyway, that is a long time off in political time.

And so what I think they need to do is they can't just assume that because everybody hates Democrats, or at least they think so, that that is going to help them. That is never enough. It makes a big difference if they win 20 seats, which they'll win easily, or 40 seats or 41 to let them capture the House.

So what I think they need to do is show daylight between themselves and the Democrats, a lot of it. This is what the Republicans did in '78 and '80 with the tax cut and '94 with the contract with America. Both things, the Democrats said those are too radical. They attacked them. They thought by attacking them it would help the Democrats. They helped Republicans.

I think people are looking for something a lot more radical than they've seen from a Republican so far, except for Paul Ryan. I think the roadmap for reforming everything is something that Republicans ought to grab on to.

WALLACE: A.B. the question of timing that Fred brought up is something that Stan Greenberg, the Clinton pollster, also brought up. He thinks that the Republicans peaked too soon, that they peaked with the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts on January 19.

He still thinks it will be a good year for Republicans but he thinks that this huge enthusiasm will wane as the year goes on. And he talks about the Republicans gaining, but the Democrats holding on to the House and Senate.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Right. I think that is the question. When you talk to people working on the Republican campaigns they tell you, I just wish the election were this week, they say. Even if my Republican experts say 41 seats in the House is a very heavy lift. Maybe 25, but flipping control, they don't see it -- 41 seats is a lot.

Also, if you look at the economy, even the administration doesn't expect for the job picture to improve until after November. But if we have a good jobs report tomorrow, if a good jobs, an improving jobs outlook would help the Democrats reverse the talk about health care, the trend over so much anger directed toward their record of stimulus, of bailouts, of health care, of taking the student loan program under the reach of the government, of basically exploding the government deficit and the debt, that is the narrative right now.

But if the jobs picture improves, the narrative shifts. That's their only hope though, Chris. This is really only four months away. They will leave in August. They only have a few months, the Democrats do, to change the picture up on Capitol Hill. I don't think they can reverse how unpopular health care reform is and how upset Americans are at the Congress.

WALLACE: Charles, is the economy still the top issue or has it been superseded by the health care reform and the whole narrative about the big government and big deficits and big spending? And if, as A.B. suggests, the job picture improves even marginally, is that going to help Democrats and maybe tamp down some of the enthusiasm for Republicans?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the state of the economy sets the frame. But it isn't the major issue, because neither side really has an answer on the economy. And nobody believes the government will do something magical that will reduce unemployment.

WALLACE: Don't Democrats get the credit or the blame regardless of whether they can do anything?

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. But I'm saying if the rate stays where it is now, the Democrats will hurt more. If it improves, they will have a marginal increase in support. But it is not going to be the issue. The issue is the one you talked about, and that is the issue that rouses the most enthusiasm that propelled the Republican success in Massachusetts.

And that is the narrative of the Obama administration and the very liberal House and Senate leadership propelling America into huge amounts of debt, high taxes, which are inevitable, and a great increase in size, reach, the scope of government. That is the narrative.

And all the elements are there. Stimulus, the takeover of auto and sweetheart deals that the unions got, the takeover of student loan that was never debated, and the big one, the takeover of health care.

And if Democrats think the small improvements that people will see on health care, the children having protection against preexisting conditions is going to help them, I think it's not. The bigger issue is the incredible amount of debt that the new entitlement will bring on. That is the big issue.

If the Republicans make coherent case, they will win big.

BARNES: Can I go back to something Stan Greenberg said?

WALLACE: No, you may not. We're out of time for this segment.


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