CNN headlines its story “Cheney makes big 2010 prediction,” and I waited to see whether he was willing to predict the GOP winning the House next year, or any upset special in any particular race. But Cheney merely said, “I think we’ll pick up a lot of seats . . . Prospects for the Republicans in 2010 are very good.”
That’s a big prediction? I think at this point, it’s conventional wisdom. Obviously, it’s still early, but folks in the know think that the “winnable” House seats come in bunches of 10 to 12; an “average” year would mean the GOP picks up 10-12 of the lowest-hanging fruit; a good year puts it up to 20-24 seats, a really good year puts it around 30 to 36 seats, and the wild, look-out-here-comes-the-tsunami scenario is 40 to 48 seats. Keep in mind Republicans need 41 seats to retake the House.
In the Senate, Republicans have a lot of good candidates up against incumbents or appointees with relatively weak numbers in places like Delaware, Illinois, Colorado, and Connecticut. They’ve got a good shot at keeping their seat in Ohio and a near-lock at keeping Florida. Incumbents in North Carolina and Louisiana look pretty solid, surprisingly solid in the case of Vitter. I don’t know if I would bet the house on the GOP challengers quite yet, but the approval numbers for Reid in Nevada and Boxer in California look pretty miserable.
Could things have gone better for GOP recruiting this cycle? I’m sure they would have liked to get Giuliani to make one of New York’s races a real race. But overall, the GOP is getting good candidates against Democrats with vulnerabilities, in an environment that, for the moment, is good for challengers and good for conservatives. If anything, Cheney’s being cautious . . .