Tea Party Turnout Raises Republican Hopes for 2010 Midterm Elections

By Fred Lucas | September 14, 2009 | 5:44 AM EDT

Protesters hold handmade signs at their march on Washington on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2009. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Conservatives are hoping the massive turnout for the Sept. 12 Tea Party March on Washington is a harbinger of things to come in the November 2010 midterm elections.
“Our goal is to change the Congress,” said Brian Springston, who traveled from Waco, Texas, to protest government spending. “The people here represent the majority of America.”
Republican lawmakers echoed that hopeful sentiment.
“Let us stand and fight for freedom,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) told a sea of people holding signs and banners opposing wasteful spending and government-run health care. “If we hold the banner of freedom high, I believe with all my heart the good and great people of this country will rally to our cause; we will take this Congress back in 2010, and we will take this country back in 2012.”
The statement prompted cheers and applause from an audience that was inclined to agree. But other non-partisan analysts also believe 2010 will be a good year for the GOP, which was clobbered in 2006 midterm race and the 2008 general election.
Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, wrote earlier in the year that he did not foresee any chance of Republicans retaking Congress in 2010, but his view is changing.
“[G]rowing public concern about spending, taxes and the size of government has started to shift the national landscape away from the Democrats to a more neutral position, and quite possibly toward the GOP,” Rothenberg wrote.
“The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has even found that Republicans have regained their historic advantage as the party better suited to deal with spending and taxes. The change in the political landscape has encouraged Republican candidates and prospects. But Democratic recruiting remains on track, with a list of strong candidates.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) believes 2010 could be another watershed year.  “With this kind of energy, it is very likely,” Blackburn told CNSNews.com, after speaking the Tea Party audience. “I think, also, you will see some independents move to Congress in 2010.”
Jonathan Krohn, a 14-year-old conservative pundit, told CNSNews.com that Republicans must look at regaining Congress before thinking about the 2012 presidential race.
“I think we have to look at 2010 first -- 2010 is the main battle we are in right now, because if Barack Obama doesn’t have a Democratic majority in Congress, he won’t be able to get through health care, won’t be able to get through cap and trade, won’t be able to get through a lot of things that he relies on Democratic votes for,” Krohn said. “It is not a done deal.”
Krohn, who addressed this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference at the age of 13, also has written a book entitled, “Define Conservatism.”
Democratic Reps. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Charlie Melancon of Louisiana are both vacating their House seats in Republican districts to run for the U.S. Senate. By the same token, Republican Reps. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Joe Gerach of Pennsylvania are vacating their Hosue seats in Democratic districts to run for Senate.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $10.2 million in the bank at the end of July, according to the Associated Press, compared with the National Republican Congressional Committee, which had $4 million.
Still, the Associated Press reports that Democrats must defend as many as 60 marginal House seats next year, as opposed to about 40 for Republicans. Among those, about 27 Democratic and just 13 Republican seats are seen as most likely to switch.