It’s nice that the Republicans have finally adopted a position that is both relatively conservative and relatively popular on an issue that voters actually care about — energy. But I’m not as convinced as the minority leader seems to be that it is enough to say “drill,” hope that John McCain wins with coattails to spare, and bank on individual members doing well at home. If Republicans had simply won back all the House seats in conservative districts they lost due to ethics issues in 2006, they would be a third of the way back to a majority. Instead retirements, poor recruitment, and abysmal fundraising has probably put this goal out of reach. It’s at least as likely at this point that House Republicans will be knocked back to their pre-1994 levels.
If the Republicans were to hold onto their current numbers or even make modest gains, that would put them in the position that the Democrats were in throughout the 1990s — continually within striking distance. Even then, it still took the Democrats twelve years to retake Congress. A loss of another ten, twenty or thirty seats will make it very difficult for Republicans for the forseeable future. That’s why some kind of strategy, even if the conditions are not right for a Republican majority in 2008, is so necessary. Relying on your members to know their own districts is fine for a majority party that can afford to be complacent, but won’t do anything for a party seeking to return to the majority.
I suspect Boehner probably knows all this on some level. When Al Regnery asked him what congressional Republicans would do if faced with a President Obama and a Democratic Congress, he didn’t exactly reject the premise out of hand. Neither was he willing to make a concrete prediction as to how well the congressional Republicans would do, other than to say “better than expected.”
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