There's no guarantee of a wave election

So, what is different this time around? It’s not that the polls today don’t look promising; they do. It’s not that the anger at Washington is any less; indeed, it’s probably even greater now than it was in 1994. Still, I think anybody on the hustings would agree that there’s a wariness now, a lack of optimism, and a cynicism about the system itself that didn’t exist to anywhere near the same degree 20 years ago.

Back then, too, the right side of the political spectrum was far more unified. Sure, the old establishment was a bit nervous about the Gingrich tactics, but Minority Leader Bob Michel not only didn’t stand in the way but actually provided encouragement to the insurgency. Meanwhile Gingrich, Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour, National Republican Congressional Committee chief Bill Paxon, and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Phil Gramm were largely on the same wavelength and working well together. It was a far cry from the internecine wars of the past several years.

Also, the public had no recent example of bad Republican management of Congress to dissuade it from entrusting the GOP with power. Indeed, despite the elder Bush’s failure to win reelection, the glow of the Reagan years remained strong.