Monday, December 05, 2005

Mitt Lowering Expectations for 2006

Via MyDD.

The newly appointed chair of the Republican Governors Association, one Willard Mitt Romney, told reporters that he expects the Republicans to lose as many as six governorships in 2006, maybe even losing the majority. The Washington Post has the story:

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney assumed the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association last week, and immediately confronted a troublesome landscape for 2006. As Romney put it during a break at the RGA gathering at La Costa resort, "The math is not in our favor this time."

There will be 36 gubernatorial races next year, 22 in states held by Republicans and 14 by Democrats. Seven of the eight states where the incumbent isn't seeking reelection are held by the GOP -- and that could grow to eight if Romney decides to forgo a second-term bid in favor of running for president in 2008.

He emphasized he's no political forecaster. But based on what he's been told by other Republican analysts, he said, if conventional expectations are borne out, the Republicans could lose three to six governorships -- after failing to pick up either Virginia or New Jersey last month. That could strip them of their majority. "If we run good campaigns, we'll do better than that," Romney said.

Republicans, who hold 28 governorships, are particularly worried about losing New York, where Gov. George E. Pataki is retiring after three terms and setting his sights on a possible presidential campaign. In Ohio, the scandal-racked administration of Gov. Bob Taft has put the Republicans on the defensive in a state that has been crucial to the party's presidential fortunes."

Other states mentioned as troublesome for Republicans next year are Florida, Arkansas, Colorado and Nevada, where the GOP incumbent is not seeking reelection. Left out, of course is Massachusetts, where recent polling has Governor Romney trailing or tied with all challengers, and Lieutenant Governor Healey getting walloped.

It may be that Romney is trying to lower expectations so that if the Republicans stay relatively even he can take the credit as the guy who prevented them from losing even more ground. I think, however, he is just acknowledging what is becoming the conventional wisdom: 2006 is not expected to be great for Republicans. They've got a President who is becoming less popular, a war that is losing popularity and a seemingly endless parade of scandals unfolding. The elections are still eleven months away, and things can certainly change by then, but right now it looks like the Democrats are poised to gain in 2006, so long as they can present a credible alternative to the current GOP misrule.