Democratic political strategist and pollster Doug Schoen predicts the Democrats will lose as many as 50 House seats and key Senate races around the country.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Schoen suggested President Obama’s sharp drop in popularity and Democratic efforts to push healthcare reform the public simply doesn’t want, will hurt Democratic chances this November.
Editor's Note: See Doug Schoen's entire video interview with Newsmax.tv below
Schoen, a Fox News analyst, who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election effort, says President Obama’s popularity woes stem largely from his lack of success on bipartisanship.
The Democrats are facing what could be a disastrous year, Schoen said, with losses so big that both the House and the Senate could fall into Republican hands.
“This is all bad news for the Democrats,” Schoen told Newsmax.TV’s Kathleen Walter and Ashley Martella. “With the retirements, with the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts, the evidence is pretty clear that this is not likely to be a good year for the Democrats and could well be a calamitous one.”
President Obama has “failed to emphasize the bipartisan center,” Schoen told Newsmax.TV.
“He’s been perceived as a liberal big spender. The central focus the administration now has on jobs is something the American people feel has been missing from his agenda.”
Americans also aren’t happy with the $787 billion stimulus package, Schoen said. “They don’t necessarily see that the stimulus has provided the benefits that the administration says it has.”
So what does Obama need to do to regain the nation’s support?
“Unless the administration can come together on a deficit-reduction plan, on a true bipartisan healthcare plan and most of all a stimulus package for new jobs and stimulating the private sector, the (poll) numbers (for Obama) are likely to stay anemic at best,” Schoen said.
The three Democratic Senate retirements, most recently Schoen’s client Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Republican Scott Brown’s January victory in Massachusetts bode ill for the Democrats, Schoen said.
“The evidence is pretty clear that this isn’t likely to be a good year for the Democrats and could be a calamitous one.”
It’s “certainly a possibility” that Democrats can lose their congressional majorities this year, Schoen said. He said Republicans may pick up as many as 10 seats in the Senate and 50 in the House.
And what about the possibility of an alternative party to the Democrats and Republicans?
“There’s broad reservoir of support in the American electorate for a third party, and I think the tea party movement speaks to that,” Schoen said.
But “there are real issues with ballot access for a third party, real questions about who would lead such an effort and real questions about who could take all the elements that would support a third party and meld them together.”
Schoen says potential third party leaders could include real estate developer Ross Perot Jr., New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Bayh, though “each of those three would rule out the idea unequivocally now.”
Schoen offered his views on a slew of closely watched races across the country, including:
- The Florida Senate Race, where Gov. Charlie Crist is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from conservative former state Speaker Marco Rubio. Rubio, who has a significant lead over Crist heading into the Republican primary, is “ideally positioned” to win in a year that favors outside challengers, Schoen said.
- The Arizona Senate Race, where former presidential candidate John McCain is facing a primary challenge from GOP conservative J.D. Hayworth. Schoen thinks McCain will pull through.
- The Illinois Senate: Schoen believes Republican Mark Kirk is very well positioned to take the Senate seat once held by Barack Obama.
- The New York Senate: This one is up for grabs. While the fight seems to be entirely among Democrats -- incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand and potential challengers Harold Ford Jr. or media mogul Mort Zuckerman – Schoen wouldn’t be surprised if an unknown Republican, a potential Scott Brown, emerges from the wings.
- Nevada Senate: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely finished, Schoen believes. He was never a top vote getter, Schoen says, and with the housing market in collapse in Nevada, he’s likely to go down at the hands of Republicans Danny Tarkanian or former state Sen. Sue Lowden.
- California Senate: Sen. Barbara Boxer is in a tight race against likely challenger Carly Fiorina, Schoen believes. This one is too close to call if Fiorina wins the Republican nod.
Overall, it’s a year that favors outside challengers, tea party-like candidates, who can muster support among angry constituents. Schoen believes if Democrats manage to pass a healthcare bill using so-called “reconciliation” tactics to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote rule, the results could be calamitous.
“I would think that if the Democrats are unable to get a bipartisan agreement at that event, it would be a profound error to pass a healthcare bill with 51 or 52 votes in the Senate and a narrow majority in the House if they could get it, especially given the polls that show a solid majority of the American people oppose both the House and senate legislation.”
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