By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
In their boldest prediction yet, Republican National Committee officials today said that a win by President Obama and the Democrats on healthcare reform will anger the public so much that the GOP will take back control of the House and very possibly the Senate.
Armed with a new poll that shows deep dissatisfaction with the reform that is moving through Congress and distrust of the procedures Democrats are employing to get their victory, a key official said that the GOP would pick up close to 60 House seats and eight or more Senate seats. The Republicans need just 41 to take back the House and 10 in the Senate.
Driving the predictions: As public anger has grown over the progression of healthcare reform, independent voters have moved significantly into the Republican camp. Even among "soft Democrats," the OnMessage poll found that only 40 percent want healthcare passed fast, while 49 percent want Congress to scrap the plan.
"The idea that this is the savior for the Democratic base is crazy," said a top GOP official. He was disputing claims in Democratic circles that once healthcare reform is passed, Obama will have a victory to brag about, which will help his standing in the polls. Until recently, the GOP has reacted by vowing to kill reform. But based on the poll's findings, Republicans are now thinking that an Obama victory will only anger people more, especially if the Democrats are deemed to be using legislative tricks.
Among the findings in the new poll provided to Washington Whispers:
- Obama's image is fading. Now 47 percent view him favorably, while an equal number views him unfavorably.
- Some 63 percent favor either scrapping the healthcare bill and shifting to economic issues or scrapping the bill and starting over. Only 27 percent favor passage.
- On a generic House ballot, undecided voters by a margin of 51 percent to 25 percent would choose a candidate who voted against healthcare reform over one who voted for it.
- And most voters, 54 percent to 36 percent, would consider voting for a Republican just to send a message to Obama and the Democrats to start listening to them.