Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Michael Abramowitz, in today's Washington Post, writes that President Bush and trusted pit bull, Karl Rove, seem convinced that their House and Senate majorities will remain secure after this coming election.
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are bracing for losses of 25 House seats or more. But party operatives say Rove is predicting that, at worst, Republicans will lose only 8 to 10 seats -- shy of the 15-seat threshold that would cede control to Democrats for the first time since the 1994 elections and probably hobble the balance of Bush's second term.
In the Senate, Rove and associates believe, a Democratic victory would require the opposition to "run the table," as one official put it, to pick up the necessary six seats -- a prospect the White House seems to regard as nearly inconceivable.
So, what exactly does Karl Rove know that we don't?
2 things concern me.
First, as I have previously blogged, Democrats are allowing themselves to be severely outspent in the most competitive races. If we manage to win those seats in question, it will be despite the handicap of being bludgeoned by more numerous GOP political ads.
Second, I question the integrity of the entire electoral process.
Robert Kennedy Jr., Mark Crispin Miller, The Brad Blog and others have warned about past efforts to manipulate election results.
If you are not aware of the prior writings, please click on the above hyperlinks to read what they have to say.
Charges of election fraud and deliberate voter disenfranchisement have not been cast frivolously. They have been accompanied by exhaustive references to support those claims. A reading of "Fooled Again," by Miller, or Kennedy's essay in Rolling Stone, as just 2 examples, are backed up with a plethora of supportive facts.
Unfortunately, when this important questioning of the process is initiated, the right-wing, and their willing accomplices in the media, simply scream 'paranoia' and the discussion comes to an end. One rarely hears specific charges rebutted. Instead, we are treated to charges that Democrats allow dead people to vote and how everything allegedly balances out with irregularities on both sides.
As we head towards the mid-terms, I urge you to be reading about some of the tactics that have been used in the past and be prepared to respond if the same tactics are used in the upcoming elections.
Considering that the GOP base is supposed to be demoralized and hardly passionate about supporting their party, keep something in mind. If the GOP retains their majority, in direct contradiction to polling, especially exit polling, challenge them when they claim that their passionate base, and well-organized political machinery, is behind their victories.
For starters, if hackable voting machines without paper trails were used, demand that your representatives in Washington begin taking action to help ensure that the votes one casts is the vote that gets recorded.
To answer the question in my headline...Karl Rove and George W. Bush know that, despite major questions of voter fraud in '00 and '04, the Democrats never challenged the results. They crawled away with their tail between their legs.
I suspect they are smiling because they don't expect a challenge in '06 either.