As pessimistic as I have become about Republican chances to keep the House, there may yet be hope. Front-page stories yesterday in the Washington Post and today in the New York Times essentially predict significant GOP losses and a growing likelihood that the Dems will finally capture the lower chamber for the first time since 1994. The reason I’m starting to rethink my pessimism is simply that the mainstream media always gets it wrong. As soon as they start ganging up on the GOP on the front pages, the likelihood becomes greater that the tide may be turning the other way.
President Bush is out defending the economy this Labor Day, as he should. It’s a much better story than the MSM will ever acknowledge. Despite a barrage of MSM articles and columns attacking the Bush economy for helping the rich at the expense of the non-rich, the reality is that average hourly earnings for non-management workers are rising at 3.9 percent, the fastest rate in about five years. Real disposable income is growing 2.5 percent. These are key political benchmark economic figures.
Meanwhile, gasoline prices are falling rapidly. This could be a very important factor in the November races. The average U.S. price for unleaded gas fell to $2.74 per gallon on September 3, down from $3.02 a month ago. It could fall to $2.50 by Election Day.
Two polls also hold out hope for the GOP. The online betting parlor Tradesports.com shows the race to be a toss-up. The House GOP 2006 Contract is 41.3 cents bid, and 42.9 cents offered. Too close to call. Another poll is the U.S. stock market, which surprised everybody with its August strength — backed by a solid economy, which is still the greatest story never told. Stocks are very close to five-year highs. This forward-looking barometer of politics, the economy, and national security would be sagging badly if it really believed a Democratic tsunami this fall would raise tax rates and undermine national security.
I’m still hoping the Republicans emphasize homeland terrorism defense through expanded NSA wiretapping, electronic surveillance of all kinds, detention of suspected terrorists, and behavioral profiling at airports. That plus a strong economy just might do it. But the GOP must deliver strong and repetitious messages on these key issues in the next 64 days.