Only 202 days until the first ’08 debate

Washington is in full election countdown mode. Every new set of polls is anticipated with the same eagerness reserved for JK Rowling’s latest offering. On that front, today is a comparatively good day for the Republicans. New polls show them up in two of the three crucial Senate races. (The fact that these contests are ...

606507_Capitol25.jpg
606507_Capitol25.jpg

Washington is in full election countdown mode. Every new set of polls is anticipated with the same eagerness reserved for JK Rowling's latest offering. On that front, today is a comparatively good day for the Republicans. New polls show them up in two of the three crucial Senate races. (The fact that these contests are in Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia demonstrates that this isn't the best of times for the GOP.)

Members of the party hierarchy are doing all they can to gin up the base with events like yesterday's talk radio bonanza at the White House and Bush's presser this morning. They're also hoping that the New Jersey Supreme Court might just lend them a hand.

It is clear that a major plank of the Republican get-out-the-vote strategy is to tap into irritation at the idea that the results are a foregone conclusion - hence Bush's oft-repeated line today about "people dancing in the end zone in DC, measuring their drapes." Meanwhile, Karl Rove is happily telling reporters that their polls are wrong and that his personal ones show the Republicans holding the House and the Senate. It's an illustration of the hex Rove has over the media that no one is entirely sure if he's bluffing or not.

Washington is in full election countdown mode. Every new set of polls is anticipated with the same eagerness reserved for JK Rowling’s latest offering. On that front, today is a comparatively good day for the Republicans. New polls show them up in two of the three crucial Senate races. (The fact that these contests are in Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia demonstrates that this isn’t the best of times for the GOP.)

Members of the party hierarchy are doing all they can to gin up the base with events like yesterday’s talk radio bonanza at the White House and Bush’s presser this morning. They’re also hoping that the New Jersey Supreme Court might just lend them a hand.

It is clear that a major plank of the Republican get-out-the-vote strategy is to tap into irritation at the idea that the results are a foregone conclusion – hence Bush’s oft-repeated line today about “people dancing in the end zone in DC, measuring their drapes.” Meanwhile, Karl Rove is happily telling reporters that their polls are wrong and that his personal ones show the Republicans holding the House and the Senate. It’s an illustration of the hex Rove has over the media that no one is entirely sure if he’s bluffing or not.

If the Republicans do hold both chambers, which I think is highly unlikely, the power of the Rove mystique will reach new heights. And through all this, 2008 looms ever larger. The first debate of the cycle on the Republican side has already been scheduled: May 15, 2007 at the University of South Carolina and broadcast on Fox News. On the Democratic side, the buzz about a Hillary-Obama contest just gets louder. You can say many things about U.S. politics right now, but one thing is certain: It isn’t dull.

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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