I started to put a comment on this post, which asserts that 2006 will be the GOP’s 1994. My response to that suggestion follows.
The Republicans have the weaknesses inherent in being a majority party — the ideologically committed people in it all feel short-changed. That is nothing new. The libertarian type GOPers don’t like the religious people and think Bush gives them too much. But, I know from my own email inbox, the religious right is hopping mad at Bush for not doing enough for them. The small government GOPers are mad at all the spending. Everybody is getting at most a tiny bit of what they want, and they want a lot more. But they all know the Donks would be worse, or they should know that. Look back at your political history, at how liberals felt about Franklin Roosevelt — they constantly thought he was selling out to the other factions in the party. Maintaining a majority political coalition is hard to do. Usually, you cannot give everybody something at the same time. So you do things one at a time and you even sometimes do inconsistent things one at a time.
So Bush is not disintegrating, he is holding a coalition together. Does this mean the Democrats are in a position to pull off a big upset? How? To do that they’d need to break up the majority coalition. Specifically, the Democrats would have to offer some element of the GOP coalition something it really wanted, that Bush can’t or won’t give them, and be more credible than the GOP is on that issue. The Democrats are no longer a coalition, but an ideology with a few interest groups attached. It is difficult for them to run to the center these days, let alone run to the right of the GOP on some issue or issues. It will be hard for them to come up with an appealing issue that would allow them to nationalized the election the way Gingrich did in 1994 and break off a chunk of the GOP coalition.
Conclusion: Unless we see (1) surprisingly strong and clever leadership on the D side, and (2) some new and powerful ideas or proposals, barring some outright disaster for Bush, then 2006 will be a typical midterm election, and the GOP may lose seats. But the total change will be small. So I fearlessly predict. We’ll check back in November ’06.