Just how good does the political landscape look for Republicans in this year’s midterms?
Try the best in 60 years and maybe more, says Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi and chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1994. That was the year the GOP picked up a net of 54 seats and took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in more than 40 years.
His evidence is the latest USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll, released this week, that shows voters inclined to support the Republican congressional candidate in their district over the Democrat by 47%-43% — notable because Democrats almost always fare better among registered voters than among those who actually turn out to vote, especially in those low-turnout elections when the White House isn’t at stake. In the 1994 midterms, the GOP didn’t show a lead on the so-called congressional ballot until September, he recalled.
In an interview, Barbour said the GOP’s standing was the strongest it has been “at least back to ’54 and probably back to 1928.” Republicans almost certainly will show a net gain of fewer seats than in 1994 and 2010, when they regained control of the House, because this time the GOP already is in control and there are fewer competitive seats in play. But he predicts the GOP would end up holding more congressional seats than they did in 1994 (230) or 2010 (242). Republicans now hold 233 seats.
Not so fast, counters Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.