“It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the [polling] numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994,” says Charlie Cook, the knowledgeable pundit and editor of the authoritative Cook Report.
The Gallup Poll has the generic party ballot in double-digits favoring the GOP, double the margin in 1994, the year the Republicans swept into power via the Contract for America.
If you are a conservative Midwesterner like me, you might prefer to under-promise and over-deliver, not the reverse. But it is hard to ignore the political sea change in progress. Dozens of House races are targets for recovery by the Republicans. Senate seats in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, even Wisconsin may be shifting to the “R” column. The President’s job approval numbers are below 50 percent, and Americans tell pollsters that the GOP can do better in every issue category except the environment. All this with record low approval ratings for the party of Lincoln notwithstanding.
Even in my own congressional district, Virginia’s 11th, the very heart of the northern suburbs outside of Washington, D.C., a district in which President Obama handily defeated Senator McCain in 2008 and set the stage for his historic victory in the Commonwealth, the Republican tide is rising again. Exactly how high is, as yet, unknown.
Keith Fimian, a handsome, successful businessman, former athlete and battle-hardened campaigner is running against Gerald Connolly, an incumbent and a career politician who voted consistently with Speaker Pelosi during his first term in office. I say that Fimian is “battle-hardened” because he was beaten by Connolly during the Obama blowout of McCain.
Fimian recently defeated a Republican county official in a heated primary in which more establishmentarian Republicans lined up against Fimian, who is a strong supply-sider and pro-life.
Fimian points to his own polling, which shows him beating Connolly, a former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. At this point there are no public polls tracking the race. Still, the fact that Fimian, who has a knack for fundraising — and no fear of going negative when necessary — is even competitive is really amazing.
Keep in mind that this area of Virginia is more like a New Jersey suburb and is populated by tens of thousands of government employees or employees of firms who work for the government. It has the highest median income of any congressional district in the country and is one of the wealthiest areas in the country. However, its wealth is grounded in the workings of government and the political process rather than the market place.
Virginia’s 11th was once held by moderate Republican Congressman Tom Davis, who spends an inordinate amount of time complaining about the GOP’s lack of inclusiveness. Yet Virginia’s new Republican Governor Bob McDonnell was able to win in northern Virginia last year, a feat that two previous Republican gubernatorial candidates failed to accomplish. So things are looking up in this part of the Commonwealth.
I hope to revisit this race from time to time in the coming weeks, not just because it is my district and convenient for me to follow, but it is an indicator of how big a tidal wave may or may not be coming in November. If Keith Fimian wins the 11th, the GOP will far exceed their electoral success of 1994. You can follow the Fimian campaign itself at KeithFimian.com.
The Labor Day sprint to November has begun. The game is afoot.