Over the last five years the GOP, under the guidance of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, have consistently played to the "base" of the Republican Party. They have consistently rejected bi-partisanship in favor of policies and politics that rallied their base regardless of the effect it had on the rest of the electorate. They assumed that they would be able to spin off enough independents and Dems to get Bush re-elected and expand or keep their hold on Congress.
For the most part it worked. They picked up control of the Senate in 2002, got Bush re-elected in 2004, and picked up five House seats that year. The problem, though, is that while their base is happy with the policies of this government, independents are not. The election of 2004 was followed by an attempt to privatize Social Security, which so far has failed. The Iraq War gets increasingly unpopular, and they are in danger of losing both Houses of Congress in this year's elections.
If you look closely at the polling data it is because GOP support is cratering among independents. On some issues they are getting almost the same numbers among independents as among Democrats, and that isn't good.
Of course the problem for Democratic candidates is that most independents don't have the same intensity about politics as committed partisans. Because of that fact, independents don't vote as consistently as either registered Republicans or registered Democrats. This election, though, may be different. If independents show up and vote they way the pre-election polls show them voting, this election will be a good one for us and a bad one for them.
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