The Midterm Elections

What If Democrats Take Control of the House?
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Nov. 3 2006 11:21 AM

The Midterm Elections


Dear John,

First and most important: The way you can get back in good stead at home after Tuesday (assuming we aren't dealing with an overtime nightmare) is to buy the kids some new socks and educational DVDs and to tell your wife you love her and you will never cover another national campaign again.


If Democrats take control of the House (or the House and Senate), there is going to be a lot of institutional and human chaos in Washington. I think the three most important ways this would play out is in the relationship between Nancy Pelosi and George Bush; in how House Republicans organize themselves in their leadership elections; and in how John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards frame the Democrats' victory.

In all of those sub-dramas, we'll see how Democrats and Republicans feel about what you and I call Bush Politics in The Way To Win but a lot of people in Washington think of as Rove Politics. I think that there will be a lot of noise about "bipartisanship." If President Bush strikes a quick deal with Nancy Pelosi based on mutual interests, he can keep the conch. If he doesn't, my guess is that the two parties and the political dialogue will turn to 2008, with both sides exhibiting a lot of Rove Envy—even as many will claim that it was Bush/Rove Politics that led to the 2006 midterm outcome.

As for your questions:

1. Jacob Weisberg is right that Republicans are better at freak-show politics than Democrats are.

2. I agree with your news judgment on the Kerry story on the second day but not the first day.

Now some from me:

1. If Republicans lose control of the House, who will Karl Rove blame? Who will Dennis Hastert blame? Who will Rush Limbaugh blame?

2. Would you please let Tom Edsall know that the New Republic doesn't do exit polls?

3. Who will George Allen blame if he loses? Who will Bob Menendez blame if he loses?

4. If Democrats win the House in a landslide, what will the anecdotal lede  in the Post be in the paper's next Rahm Emanuel profile?

5. Any chance you can preview the Post's weekend political coverage here for Slate readers? (As a show of good faith, I'll tell you that on This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, George has interviews with Vice President Cheney and Howard Dean, and I'll be on the roundtable with George F. Will and Donna Brazile.)

As for next week, I'll miss our daily exchanges, but I have a feeling we'll have plenty to do.


Mark Halperin is the political director of ABC News and the founding editor of The Note. John F. Harris is the national politics editor of the Washington Post and the author of The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House. Halperin and Harris are co-authors of The Way To Win, a book about modern politics and presidential campaigns.


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