Republicans Like Their Prospects
Republican political activists see another 1994 about to unfold before their -collective eyes.
They don't want to miss out. So they're filing for political office in droves.
With election filing in North Carolina just closed, 48 Republicans have filed to run in the 13 congressional districts in the state. In all 50 state Senate districts, even those overwhelmingly populated by Democratic voters, at least one Republican will be on the ballot come November.
Another round of change, or Obama backlash, would seem to be in the air. Better jump on board. Sixteen years ago, the crush of electoral change surprised winning GOP challengers nearly as much as losing Democratic incumbents. The result was a historic change in the North Carolina legislature, with Republicans gaining control of the state House for the first time since Reconstruction.
Veteran Democratic congressmen, including David Price of North Carolina's 4th District, were ousted by political novices. The wave of anti-incumbency filtered all the way down to local races, some not even partisan, as longtime county commissioners and town council members were left speechless by unexpected losses.
Surely a repeat is just around the corner. GOP officials expect as much. "Republicans are galvanized and they sense a historic opportunity," state Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer said as election filing closed last Friday.
Fetzer and his friends may end up disappointed.
It's easy to get caught up in the parallels to 1994. Just as then, a first-term Democrat sits in the White House and it's a non-presidential election year. Just as then, this president has waded into domestic Vietnam - health-care reform. It's not quite as easy to delve into what could turn out to be significant differences.
Among the most glaring differences is that the financial collapse of 2008 is still fresh in the minds of voters. People who've seen a third of their retirement savings disappear, who believe that Wall Street and its investment conjurers haven't been adequately punished for their sins, who still want a pound of flesh, may represent more than a predictable wave of anti-incumbency.
In the aftermath of that financial collapse, people don't just distrust politicians. They distrust institutions of authority, period.
Meanwhile, polls continue to show Barack Obama viewed favorably by about 50 percent of the state's electorate. His numbers are a lot better than Congress, an institution of which less than 20 percent of voters express satisfaction.
A more cynical voter and a Democratic president who retains some popularity doesn't mean that Republicans won't enjoy some gains come November.
It is a midterm election, and a Democratic majority in the state Senate is clearly in jeopardy as longtime Democratic incumbents retire in several swing districts.
But predicting exactly how the volatility of the angry voter of 2010 plays out is beyond anyone's crystal ball.
That anger may skewer some who today believe that they'll be its beneficiary.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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