The general election is one year away, and so it is an opportune time to assess the prospect for success for conservative governance. Right now the Congressional races do not look good for Republicans. Some Republican incumbents (some pseudo Republicans whom I won't miss) are retiring and it looks like those seats could be picked up by Democrats. The Conservative base of the Republican party is still fuming over Bush and his party's big spending. It is still not clear how much energy the base will bring to the election effort. Fortunately, Bush and the Republican leaders failed to pass their immigration bill. At least the next party nominee will not have that weight upon his shoulders.
However, we can add some optimism to this negative scenario. This optimism can be described in one word: Hillary. She is sure to be the Democratic nominee, and once she is anointed, not even her lapdogs in the media will be able to hide her liabilities. She will not be able to hide the price tag or the extent of a power grab her policies would bring. Added to this, she is not as smart as portrayed and her public behavior will highlight this. Once she receives substantive criticism, she will not be able to dismiss it as the propaganda of the right wing conspiracy. Most likely, she will demonstrate that she can not handle any criticism that comes her way. Trying to paint her opponents as mean and vicious will not shield her from having to answer for her proposals or personal demeanor. As for her person, she has the charisma of a piece of wood and on a likability scale from one to ten, she would rate a one or two. There are just too many people afraid of another Clinton presidency, or afraid of Hillary in particular, to make her election a sure thing. If the Republicans are smart and nominate Thompson, she will have the kind of opponent she and her husband never faced before: one who is articulate, formidable in debate, one with little baggage, and one who won't let the Clintons define him. In a debate, Thompson would show her for who she is, an unlikeable, not all that intelligent liberal demagogue who doesn't have the temperament for high office. Many Democrats fear that her unpopularity could cost Democrats seats in Congress. The Democratic position on such issues as immigration will cost Democrats support. The issue they thought would bring them complete victory at the polls, Iraq, appears to be waning in importance as the surge appears to be working. Global warming could backfire on them as well.
So, not all is doom and gloom. If Thompson is nominated and the base unites around him, he might just give Republican Congressional candidates some traction. The Democrats only have a one-seat majority in the Senate. The Republicans could take it back with the help of a popular Presidential candidate.
That is how things look almost a year to the day of the next election.