washingtonpost.com Staff Writer and Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 4, 2008; Page A11
With the party already struggling to generate enthusiasm for its brand, Republican strategists fear that an outpouring of public anger generated by Congress’s struggle to pass a rescue package for the financial industry may contribute to a disaster at the polls for the GOP in November.
“The crisis has affected the entire ticket,” said Jan van Lohuizen, a Republican consultant who handled the polling for President Bush‘s reelection campaign. “The worse the state’s economy, the greater the impact.”
Republicans are trying to defend at least 18 House seats in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, economic trouble spots that double as election battlegrounds. Rising unemployment, the meltdown in the housing market, and a credit crunch besieging consumers and manufacturers alike were factors in Sen. John McCain‘s decision Thursday to pull campaign resources out of Michigan. The McCain campaign’s exit from the state leaves a pair of vulnerable Republicans, Reps. Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg, with a weakened party infrastructure heading into Nov. 4. Attempting to sound optimistic, Knollenberg, who opposed the bailout bill on Monday but supported a revised version yesterday, said simply, “I am going to fight harder.”
In the Senate, where Democrats have been on offense all year as they try to attain a filibuster-proof, 60-seat majority, Republican incumbents are suddenly teetering in North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia because of the economic crisis, according to several GOP strategists closely tracking the contests.