Topic A: How the midterm campaign will play out

Washington Post
Sunday, September 5, 2010

With the Republicans leading the Democrats on the generic congressional ballot, what will the two parties in Congress do before November? Below, responses from Dan Schnur, Scott Keeter, Jennifer Palmieri, Matthew Dowd, Martin Frost and Christine Todd Whitman.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN

Chair of the Republican Leadership Council; governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001

Both parties in Congress will continue to hammer their base issues until Election Day.

Republicans will focus on President Obama and the ways his administration has failed to tackle the economic problems we faced in 2008, and still face, and they will critique the rampant spending that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Obama have overseen. As part of this fiscal message, Republicans will no doubt highlight President George W. Bush’s middle-class tax cuts, which Obama might allow to expire. I suspect Republicans will also hammer immigration, a topic that preys on economic fears and highlights an issue on which Obama has not acted enough.

The Democrats will probably try to take the tax issue away from Republicans with a payroll-tax holiday, by reinstating the research and development tax credit or something similar. They will tout Obama’s legislative achievements and kept promises, including health-care and financial industry reforms.

The continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — despite Obama’s withdrawal plans — are a double-edged sword for both parties. How these conflicts play politically this fall will depend on how much terrorist activity we see in the coming weeks.

Finally, both parties will be watching Tea Party voters, who have the momentum right now — and how they will affect the November outcome is still unknown.