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Reynolds: 'No News Is Good News'

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds acknowledged Tuesday that sagging poll numbers -- the result of an unfavorable national political climate -- has forced vulnerable incumbents in "some seats" to begin their campaigns sooner than they have in recent elections.

While vowing that Republicans will maintain their House majority in the coming midterm elections regardless of the national climate, Reynolds acknowledged that "members [are] paying much more attention and putting together campaigns earlier." As an example he mentioned Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, who he said typically starts a campaign in August but is already fully engaged this cycle. Shays faces 2004 Democratic nominee Dianne Farrell again this fall.

A memo released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aimed at rebutting Reynolds's claims said polling done for the committee in a variety of districts over the past year has shown that a number of Republican incumbents' reelection chances are "dismal." The incumbents in the districts surveyed scored 43 percent or below when voters were asked whether they deserved reelection, with some in the low to mid-30s, according to the DCCC missive, which didn't say what the districts were.

For much of the briefing, which Reynolds does regularly with a group of D.C.-based political reporters, he refused to offer any meaningful comment on the issues of the day.

On President Bush's proposal yesterday to address the problem of illegal immigration: "Let's see how the country reacts."

On the prospect of an extended House debate on Iraq:"It won't be the first time or the last time."

On former NRCC chairman Thomas M. Davis III's proposal to give D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton a vote in Congress: "I have not seen a bill on that."

What did Reynolds feel like talking about? His mantra for the 2006 elections ("All politics is local") and little else. For much of the last year -- as national polling has shown larger and larger majorities disapproving of the job both Bush and Congress are doing -- Reynolds has continued to insist that while national winds may be blowing in Republicans' collective face, it will make little difference on a race-by-race basis.

Reynolds again pointed out that in most polls a majority of voters approve of the job their particular member of Congress is doing -- a sign, he says, that while the institution is not particularly well thought of, this does not endanger the 15-seat GOP majority.

But in 1994 -- when Republicans picked up 52 seats to reclaim the majority for the first time in 40 years -- polling also showed a disconnect between voters feelings about their own legislators and the body as a whole. In a Gallup survey conducted in late October 1994, just 27 percent of those tested said their member was corrupt while 65 percent said he or she was not. The most recent Gallup poll, conducted late last month, showed similar numbers -- 22 percent believed their member was corrupt, 67 percent did not.

So, while Reynolds is technically right in citing the overall popularity of inidvidual incumbents, he may be too optimistic about what those poll numbers mean in the battle for the majority.

Reynolds summed up the whole of the briefing in the first five words he spoke: "No news is good news."

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 16, 2006; 2:56 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Parsing the Polls: The Impact of Insta-Polling?

Comments

Updated polling and rankings for House seats in midterms-

Dems pick up minimum of 11 and upwards of 21 seats.

Posted by: RMill | May 23, 2006 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This is off-topic. I apologize.

Phone Jammers Found Guilty

Charles McGee, executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Republican National Committee regional political director James Tobin and GOP consultant Allen Raymond "have been found guilty of criminally violating federal communications law" for their part in a 2002 Election Day phone jamming scheme in New Hampshire, according to the Washington Post.

"The New Hampshire Republican Party, burden by legal bills, is virtually broke, with $733.60 in its federal and state accounts."

Add these three convicted criminals to the long list of ethically bankrupt repiglicans who are unfortunately in control of our government.


Posted by: Ohio guy | May 17, 2006 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Add OH-13 to your list of House races where the GOP leads in $$, but trails in ideas, intelligence, a real plan for the country, a candidate that is not a lapdog of Bush/Cheney, the polls, and most importantly a candidate that will help take the country in the opposite direction than George Bush has taken it, which is what the vast majority of voters in that district want.

Posted by: Ohio guy | May 17, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"But I think his(Bush's) ace-in-the-hole is the fact that he is going to start drawing down troops in Iraq about two months before the election."

Yeh.....because NO ONE is going to see that as politically motivated, so that will work just great. The American people are not retarded mouth-breathers FH, I doubt that will work.

Posted by: Ohio guy | May 17, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Viva

The FEC complaint will be dropped. The addresses were PO Boxes at the same post office. When new finance reports come out we will see where they are at. At this point, they are within 10% or $250 K of each other.

Posted by: RMill | May 17, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Viva, I agree so you may as well grab the $.

Max-

Not sure where you are getting your information.

In 1992, the Democrats held 258 seats in the US House of Representatives, and Independents held 1 seat. Republicans held the remaining 176.

After the 1994 mid-terms, Republicans held 230 seats, Democrats held 204 and Independents held on to their one seat. This was a net gain of 54 seats.

34 incumbant Democrats lost their seats in 1994. No republican incumbants lost that year. 4 previously republican seats opened due to retirement switched hands, while 24 open democratic seats switched hands.

These stats can be confirmed in records kept by the Office of the Clerk, US House of Representatives.

http://clerk.house.gov/members/electionInfo/elections.html

So yes, technically CC was wrong (he said 52 seats). It was not however, 73 seats.

58 previously Democratic seats switched parties while only 4 previously Republican seats went over to the Dems.

Posted by: RMill | May 17, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Judge,
I don't even want to think about us getting into it with Iran. Now I know we would whip there butts six days a week and twice on sunday but damn, don't enough people hate us right now. Not to mention the folks in Isreal have a really short leash with Tehran and they are iching for a reason to bomb them. Iran is a powder keg with a meglomaniac at the helm. I hate to say it but the Ihatollah might be our best chance for peace with the Persians.

Posted by: Andy R | May 17, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

FH: sounds reasonable but it appears as if ANY immigration deal that involves the kind of compromises Bush is promoting (hard to believe he's pushing compromise) is going to further erode his base. At this point immigration is The Issue That Wouldn't Go Away for Bush and he's foolish (politically) to keep talking about it.

You could argue that the middle might like him more but I think he's got too many strikes against him. Iraq drawdowns? As long as there are any American troops in Iraq public opinion will not change substantially.

I think limited airstrikes against Iran are far more likely. Something surgical that doesn't involve any loss of American life. BushRove are certainly aware of his approval rating and how it was affected by the actions against Afghanistan and Iraq. Both of those events provided big boosts in approval.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 17, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

RMill,
Foltin is damned if he does or he doesn't so he might as well welcome Cheney and all the money that came with it (See me? I was there in the front row right in front of our VP).
That was an impressive group of donors in that room. Foltin knows how to raise money at the local, state levels. That cash will be matched by NRCC and many others outside Ohio.

Now, while I am not predicting that Foltin will win, his competetiveness will cause the Dems to spend mucho $$ to defend this seat, thereby depriving other Dem candidates from these dollars. Dems think all they need do is flip GOP seats but their real priority must be to retain what they already have in order to make any real gains.

By the fact that he is a GOP Foltin is tied to Bush-Cheney because that is what SUtton will hammer.

She on the other hand has the baggage of being a carpetbagger(expect to see these on the campaign trail)and beholden to special intersts like unions and radical feminists. Also hanging over her is the FEC complain filed by Tom Sawyer which further ties her campaign to a faux-feminist group with the same address as her campaign HQ, a clear violation of FEC law.

Add OH-13 to your list of House races where the GOP leads in $$.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | May 17, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"I hope Reynolds and the rest of the republicans in Congress keep their blinders on all the way until November."

I think the Republicans know they are in trouble, but you don't go around telling everybody that before the election. That's like a boxer telling people he doesn't think he has a chance before he steps in the ring. Things can change quickly in politics. If Bush can get any kind of Immigration deal pushed through congress, it will help stop the bleeding. But I think his ace-in-the-hole is the fact that he is going to start drawing down troops in Iraq about two months before the election. If he does that, I think he will let some steam off this pressure cooker and give the Republicans a chance come November.

Posted by: FH | May 17, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Republican Fisical Disipline

What a joke ?

They never meet a defense contrator that they didn't want to double his salary.

You remember the days when Clinton was in office and Republican complained that spending a 100 million a year on the National Endowment of the Arts how we can't afford and it was to expensive.

Now republican are in charge and we are running deficits every year from 400 billion to 500 billion a year ( that's half trillion dollars a year in red ink). They went from arguing about 100 million dollars a year to giving Bush 400+ billion dollars in red ink every year. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ? And then they have the nerve to go around and call democrats - big spending liberals. Is it ok to be a big spending conservative ? REPUBLICANS ARE HYPOCRITES !

Posted by: Wells | May 17, 2006 8:24 AM | Report abuse

'Max:' the only rage and venom here is yours. You say "I am a proud Republican, and I stand by the President" without realizing that this President has done things that are completely opposed to the GOP's historical stance. I'm really curious: when did being a Republican mean adopting (and fervently supporting according to your post) a fiscal liberalism that is the complete opposite of Barry Goldwater's conservatism? Presumably you have an explanation, and you aren't an unthinking drone who just pushes the button next to 'R' in every election like a good little puppy.

Hello?

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 17, 2006 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Republicans may be in deep trouble. In the Pennsylvania Primary last night, there was a special election for the State Senate in Chester County where a Democrat had never won--until now. The Democrat, Andrew Dinniman received 56.23% of the vote to coast to victory. This state senate seat is in the PA-6 where Lois Murphy lost to Jim Gerlach two years ago by 2 points. Gerlach's Republican bastion, Chester County, seems to be deserting the GOP. I'd say that the PA-6 may now "lean" just slightly to the Democratic column, although Novemeber is a long way off.

Posted by: Jeremy | May 17, 2006 5:44 AM | Report abuse

The Republican Party is going down in flames not only because they are totaly engulfed by greed and corruption but also because they stand for absolutely nothing other than self-preservation. Conservative people are not interested in a political party that is all about serving lobbyists.

Posted by: Sandy | May 17, 2006 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Democratic candidates are outraising their republican conterparts for money.

Why ? This is Why.

There is an assumption that republicans will be showered with money. Do not bet on it. People donate money to people they think are going to win - so they can get access for backing the winner. The more and more polls come out saying that republicans are going to lose the more and more people will donate to democrats. It is already happening with the Wall Street Crowd. The Wall Street Crowd is investing heavily in democrats rather than republicans because they sense that democrats are the smarter choice to win. It alarmed the White House so much that when Bolten came on board. He put Wall Street Fundraising on his Top 5 List of things to fix.

There comes a point where the losing scenerio for republicans feeds upon itself and there is no pulling out of it or a comeback no matter what you do - -it all just implodes. It all just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: Wells | May 16, 2006 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Max -- At any point during your post did you actually make any points? B/c it sounded like all you were really doing was: (1) Yelling at CC b/c he didn't mention a fact you seem to like; and (2) Yelling about how Democrats are being mean to republicans by pointing out that after 6 years of almost complete power, they have ZERO accomplishments to talk about during the elections.

I mean seriously, the Republican talking point that it is somehow the MINORITY PARTY's obligation to explain their plans in detail before voters will vote for them is ridiculous. Dems to have a plan, which I'm happy to discuss on an issue by issue basis if you'd like, but EVEN IF THEY DIDN'T the American People know for a FACT that Republicans have nothing to offer. How do they know that's the case? B/c we've had Republicans in power for six years. I know you don't like it, but when you win elections you actually have an obligation to govern. Republicans haven't done that, and now the party is going to have to pay a price for that.

Posted by: Colin | May 16, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear Max,

You're wrong.

Love,

nearly 70% of the electorate.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Over the next 6 months, our nation will witness a full TRIBAL war between the Republicans and the Democrats. They will have their spears to toss at each other, mud to sling at each other, but the TV and radio will make millions from all the ads to do it.

The newspapers will sell headline attacks on their frontpage. If the public keeps buying that stuff, they reduce the elections to the National Enquirer status of attack and counter-attack. You will see a march of Democrats picketing the White House, you will see a march down the streets of city after city. If you all loved Cindy Sheehan and her attack on the President in Texas, you will probably get more of that too.
I am going to a Minnesota cabin with my husband, go fishing with our kids, and just ignore all this TRIBAL warfare. Come join me in the peace and quiet of the tranquil Minnesota lakes, far away from TV and all that TRIBAL noise. I will come back later to help clean up the mess.

Posted by: Melissa | May 16, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

First of all, one major mistake of Cillizza's column is that the Republicans won 73 seats from the Democrats in 1994, it was an overall 52 seat majority. The reason I point this out is that it sounded as if the Republicans only picked up 52 seats. The tidal wave against Hillarycare, against all the Whitewater scandals, the House Banking scandal and indictment of Dan Rosentkowski (who still ran, was defeated, and then went to prison for a year), all of that baggage dragged down the Democrats.

Cillizza can look up the facts I am referring to since he worked for Roll Call political newspaper. Since he is a political guru, why he failed to mention those 73 seats swinging from the Democrats side of the aisle over the the Republicans might be a point of discussion.

Next, for the above suggestion that the Republicans are racists is of itself a racist comment. As if the Democrats own all the votes from the African-Americans?
How then it explain that African-American Republicans are running for office? Keith Butler is running for the Senate in Michigan, Lynn Swann running for governor of Pennsylvania, Ken Blackwell for governor in Ohio, and a fellow running for Congress in North Carolina. All of the them are Republican leaders who won their primary on the Republican ticket and they are all African-American. There are also elected Hispanic Republicans, a few holding seats in Congress and one from Texas, again, all Republicans. This racist garbage mentioned in an earlier blogger comment is totally uncalled for and disgusting.

Now, on the issue of Republican seats, some of those Districts are solidly in the Republican side of the ballot. What is the alternative? Vote for a Democrat? I will ask why so many of them like Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and a few others on the Democrat side do NOT mention on their websites that they are Democrats. Fighting for you, they say, but rarely do they mention they are Democrats.
I am a proud Republican, and I stand by the President, and the others in Congress who are helping him achieve what is best for our nation and our own citizens.
Reynolds might have stated the reason the Republicans started before August to campaign for 2006 is that some many of the Democrats knocked off any competition.
Look at Paul Hackett in Ohio, who went from skyrocket status as an Iraqi war vet to challenge Senator DeWine, into a rejected and dejected Democrat. Why? The National Democrats told him he would not be supported or funded by Rahm Emanuel, and instead a member of Congress from Ohio would get a clear shot against DeWine. Therefore, the Democrats cleared the field and launched all the anti-Bush and anti-Republican campaign early. DeWine just has to protect himself from all the attacks, and the people from Ohio have to suffer all summer long for the onslaught of attacks ads on all sides.

So let's have a real debate. What do the Democrats offer our nation instead of complaining? Investigations of the President? Sure good to know since the Democrats are out to put Congress into complete gridlock with investigation after investigation to tie up the last 2 years of the Bush Presidency. The only people who think that is a good idea are all the people who hate the President and want PAY BACK for whatever the heck they think Clinton and the Democrats suffered from in the Clinton years. That is why Rahm Emanaul is out on his agenda, since he was part of the Clinton White House, so he has been on a RAGE to get back at the Republicans ever since he won his seat in Congress. The venom in the Democrats just might suck the life out of them if they fail to win back the Congress in 2006. If the Democrats still end up out of power in 2006, I wonder if they will finally realize the voters are just sick and tired of their complaining, their anti-Bush agenda, and all their gridlock. So I will be watching the election of November 2006 and see if the Democrats succeed at winning anything with all their hate.

Posted by: Max | May 16, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Suppose Ned Lamont pulls off a stunning upset in the Dem, CT primary? Lieberman then runs as an indpendent. He'll garner votes from Republicans as well as some Democrats - especially Jewish voters. It's doubtful the GOP nominee would prevail. If Lieberman were to then win as an independent, who controls the the Senate might depend on which party he choses to caucus with. I doubt Lieberman would show much love to the Democratic Party.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | May 16, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the current trend continues if the folks at the RNC will recognize that the House is lost and focus all their attention on keeping control of the Senate which is much more likely to stay Red?

Posted by: Andy R | May 16, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Not much has changed in the Senate. Right now, I see 4 seats switching hands in favor of Dems, 2 short needed for control.

Posted by: RMill | May 16, 2006 4:15 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Mr. Reynolds, this is bad news, not no news. Maybe he hasn't turned on his TV in a few months either.

Posted by: RMill | May 16, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The necessity of forcing Republican incumbants to expend resources long before they normally would, and already being at a substantial cash disadvantage in a majority of competitive races and also the RCCC trailing the DCCC in national fundraising, will cause many campaigns to run out of money at the end of the race of expend more energy in fund raising instead of vote getting.

Those forced to turn to the White House as a source of fund raising (Mayor Foltin for example in OH 13 bringing Cheney in), will have the unfortunate side effect of being "closely tied" with the Bush administration, making it easier for the DCCC to turn mid-term congressional races into a national referendum for contorl of congress and repudiation of republican incumbants instead of a series of individual "local events" as Reynolds hopes.

Posted by: RMill | May 16, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

According to most recent polling regarding Congress (generic questions) and updates to Cook, CQ and Sabato for competitiveness, I am predicting a minimum 8 seat pick up and up to 16 seats, which would give Dems control.

CA 50 will be an key indicator race. Busby has pulled ahead or even with Bilbray in recent polls and has twice as much money on hand as of last reporting.

Dems lead in money in the following competitive races-

AZ 8, CA 50, GA 8, GA 12, IA 3, IL 8, IN 8, LA 3, NC 11, SC 5, TX 17, TX 22, VT, WI 8

Dems are with 10% or $250K in the following competitive races-

CO 7, IA 1, IN 9, MN 6, NV 2, NY 24, OH 6, OH 13, PA 6, VA 2, WY

Reps have substantial money leads in the following competitive races (more than 50%)-
IL 6, KY 4, OH 1, OH 15, OH 18, PA 8, WA 8

Other competitive races where Reps have money leads between 10-50%-
CT 2, CT 4, FL 13, FL 22, NM 1, NY 20

Posted by: RMill | May 16, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, when assessing the electoral map the GOP may be a victim of their own gerrymandering. Due to redistricting, the GOP House is beholden to constituents that are homophobic, nationalistic, and racist. However, the country at large remains far more moderate than GOP propaganda. Consequently, the GOP's public face on issues such as immigration is well outside the public mainstream. When combined with their lies about Iraq, incompetence, gas prices and pervaise corruption the GOP sucking wind. They're sucking wind the same way the Communist Party was in its' final days in the Soviet Union.

The real question for the future is where will the greed mongering corporatists go once the GOP is out of power? Will the Democrats be able to resist them? Sadly, Hillary Clinton and much of the Washington Democratic Party establishment will gladly sell their souls in welcoming them.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | May 16, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"Reynolds again pointed out that in most polls a majority of voters approve of the job their particular member of Congress is doing -- a sign, he says, that while the institution is not particularly well thought of, this does not endanger the 15-seat GOP majority."

I hope Reynolds and the rest of the republicans in Congress keep their blinders on all the way until November. If they truly believe they are not in danger, they will lose even more seats.

Posted by: Ohio guy | May 16, 2006 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Let me add to Greg's comment by saying that Tom Reynolds' message to George W. Bush is: please stop talking!

Posted by: Jud | May 16, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, I hope Reynolds takes his own advice and starts campaigning early since even his OWN seat is in danger.

"All politics is local" this time around just means "I may be a Republican, but I ain't Bush."

Posted by: Greg-G | May 16, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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