I've spent the last couple of days talking to some of the brightest Democrats in the party that are not in the White House. And it's very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House. It's very hard. Are the seats there right this second? No. But we're on a trajectory on the House turning over....
What could change the trajectory? Probably not the passage of a health bill. As Brendan Nyhan noted several months ago, enactment of signature presidential initiatives does not tend to raise approval ratings. By contrast, here are a few things that might help the president and his party:
- Unexpected growth in the economy, bringing unemployment below 8 percent;
- A national-security triumph for the administration, such as capturing Osama bin Laden;
- Skillful presidential handing of a disaster (e.g., Clinton after Oklahoma City);
- GOP failure to mount good campaigns in individual districts.
Then again, these variables could turn in the other direction: President Obama could have his own Katrina, for instance. Let's hope not, but the point to remember is that stuff happens. Election forecasts are different from home loans: percentages are not locked in.