Despite Tom DeLay's admonition against overconfidence, I will go with the polls showing a "generic" Republican preference of about 5%, and offer some conjecture about a Republican 2011 House of Representatives. (See the electoral map.)
We've been here before and screwed it up. Lesser lights were the worst offenders: Congressman Duke Cunningham - guilty of taking millions in bribes; lobbyist Jack Abramoff - guilty of defrauding Indian tribe clients and official corruption along with a dozen other White House and congressional aides; Rep Mark Foley - guilty of soliciting a young male page. While not convicted of crimes, a considerable stink hung over leaders Newt Gingrich (reprimanded in 1997 and fined by the House for ethics violations), Tom Delay (charged in 2005 with violating state campaign finance laws and money laundering), and Dennis Hastert (shady real estate deals.) Those looking for reasons why Democrats outnumber Republicans 4 to 3 while voters self-identify as conservative over liberal 2:1 should start with the Republican House's decade of corruption.
This time it is high unemployment and generation-punishing budget deficits that are giving Republicans a chance, and they will be the focus of the 112th Congress.
-- John Boehner, was a junior reformer in the 90's, helped write the Contract with America in 1994, and became minority leader in 2006, following Tom DeLay's resignation. Under his leadership (and with Nancy Pelosi seeking no Republican input), he has been able to hold his caucus to a virtual 100% voting record. He promises to be a solid majority leader.
-- Paul Ryan of Road Map fame will presumably be the Chair of the House Budget Committee. Wisdom and courage will be required.
-- Ryan is also on the Bowles/Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission which will report in December on recommendations to close the $1.4 trillion dollar budget deficit, giving the administration and the Congress a beginning point for negotiations. Democrat Bowles has indicated that he favors 3/4 spending cuts and 1/4 tax increases, rolling back the recent expansion of government spending from 21 to 24 % of GDP. Options such as a Value Added Tax will probably not get the 14 of 18 votes necessary for recommendation, but they will receive attention none-the-less.
-- Fortunately, the new Congress should be encouraged by several recent examples of new leaders receiving early credit for slashing spending - Governor Chris Cristie in New Jersey; Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia; Prime Minister David Cameron in the United Kingdom. Look for the House's "power of the purse" to run into the Community Organizer in Chief's desire to spread the wealth. Obama is smart enough to know - even after the resignations of Budget Director Peter Orszag and chief economic adviser Christine Romer - that wealth has to be created before it can be redistributed.
-- In the short run, voters favor job creation over deficit reduction, suggesting a series of Republican proposals to help the creators of jobs - extension of the Bush tax cuts; a shift of focus on health care from extension of coverage to cost reduction (repeal is not possible with Obama's veto); movement toward real energy independence; a challenge to regulatory expansion; and most importantly, a plan to return to budget sanity.
-- One concern of the White House will be Darrell Issa, the Republicans' biggest investigator of the administration's alleged abuses, as chair of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - with subpoena power. Move over Henry Waxman.
-- Finally, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Blue Dog Democrats - or what is left of them - once they are out from under the thumb of Ms Pelosi. With a liberal Democratic president and a Tea Party-energized Republican House, they will remain in "no man's land".
This all assumes that the Republicans' campaign message remains on track, not getting distracted by popular, but less important, issues such as immigration, Muslim mosques, and the corruption of Charlie Rangel. I believe that the Republican leaders get it.
This week's video is a largely unreported welcome of returning soldiers by President George W. Bush at Dallas/Fort Worth. Whatever his other shortcomings, this is his element.-----
And, a plug for my nuclear terrorism novel, The Target, available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon and by request at most book stores.