The Republican Party will retain control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.
As always, I'm making the prediction at a time when I can't be said to be jumping on favorable polls—specifically, when the Republicans are bleeding like Chuck Wepner and Gallup shows them in an even worse spot than the Democrats were in prior to the 1994 Republican Revolution. As always, if I'm right I'll preen like John McLaughlin and if I'm wrong I'll just huff and clear my throat like Jack Germond.
Explanation: The Democrats need to pick up 16 seats in the House and six in the Senate. Conventional wisdom is that the former is likely and the latter is an outside shot. History is on their side: Since World War II, much larger turnovers have been common in the House and not unheard of in the Senate. That goes for midterm elections too, although in those cases large turnovers tend to happen with a president in an unusually vulnerable spot (Truman in 1946, Ford in 1974, and maybe Eisenhower—because of the health rumors—in 1958).
But if historical trends were a guide, Bush would already be facing a massively hostile Congress. He has beaten the odds laid down by almost every president, including Reagan, by consistently picking up seats in his mid-term and re-election cycles. And he's got a great advantage this time in that this will not be a passionately fought election. The Democrats had their chance to harness the anti-Bush groundswell in 2004, and instead they nominated John Kerry. That chance won't come again in a mid-term contest.
The problem for the dems is that they have nobody capable of doing what Gingrich did in 1994: defying Tip O'Neill's law and conceptualizing 435 separate contests as a single national referendum. The only Democratic legislator who gets anybody's body heat up to room temperature is Barack Obama, and he is a) not yet old enough to see an R-rated film without accompaniment and b) in the Senate, where revolutions never occur, and where any attempts at energizing the troops will be blocked by DINOs Clinton and Lieberman.
That leaves the House. Fortunately for the Dems, they don't have as tall a task as Gingrich faced in '94. Unfortunately, they also don't have a Gingrich. They don't even have grich, or gin or even a ngr. They have Nancy Pelosi, the most incompetent politician in the western hemisphere. There are certainly more than 16 vulnerable House seats around this great land of ours, and to the extent those contests get decided locally, there's a chance the Democrats may get a turnover in spite of themselves. But to the extent that any change in the House majority depends on good organization, a strong message, or inspired leadership from above, the Democrats are sunk. Nancy Pelosi is good at one thing—nothing.
I would put even less money on this than on my other predictions. But there you have it. Discuss or ignore, as you see fit.