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GOP Control of Congress Under Threat

David Gergen, left, and Newt Gingrich
David Gergen, left, and Newt Gingrich

The uproar among many conservatives over President Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court only added to the long list of political troubles engulfing the Republican Party these days. An unpopular war, high gasoline prices, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and a series of ethics problems are making Republicans worried about next year's elections.

Ask any optimistic Democrat about the Republican troubles and they'll tell you it feels a lot like 1994 or 1974 -- two other election cycles when members of the majority party were swept out by a wave of anti-incumbent disgust.

"At this point what you'd have to say is that there are enough parallels to the 1993-94 cycle that Republicans ought to be very, very nervous," says former Republican congressman Vin Weber, now an informal adviser to the Bush administration.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich agrees that the Republican Party is at an important crossroads. "I think we're either going to be the party of very dramatic change, or we're going to be the party that tries to explain and defend failure," he says.

Political analyst David Gergen, who has worked for both Republican and Democratic presidents, has seen his share of political sea changes. "It strikes me that the more serious implications of what's been happening over the last few months is not whether the party control will change in 2006, but whether the conservative effort to build a long term, durable majority, which was one of the main enterprises of the Bush administration, whether... that's now hit a wall," he says.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.
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