Taking Back Congress?

From Doug Mataconis comes the latest from Larry Sabato:

After examining all 435 House races for 2010, the Crystal Ball projects that Republicans will gain between 20 and 30 seats. While this is nothing to sneeze at, especially given that it would be the largest gain for congressional Republicans since 1994, it still puts them short of the 40 seat pick-up they need to take back the House.

Doug concludes:

Part of the problem the GOP faces is that it suffered such big losses in 2006 and 2008 that it’s going to take nothing short of a political miracle for it to regain control in 2010.

True dat, and they deserved those drubbings after years of out of control pork barrel spending and worse.

But I think there’s a chance for a real groundswell here that Sabato discounts, and it will come down to two questions: Just how angry are older voters, now that their Medicare is under threat; and just how apathetic are younger voters, now that their hip young president is in office?

And even just a couple percentage points of increased turnout for suburban voters — disappointed in the stimulus, sickened by cap & tax, and worried about the health care overhaul — could make the difference in many races. Enough for 40 seats or more to change parties? I think that depends entirely on whether or not this Overreach Congress can slow down and let the American people catch its breath.

Two other things before we finish up here — one in favor of a Republican victory next year, one not.

Unlike 1994, the Republicans have no Newt Gingrich to lead a “revolution.” They don’t even have much of a platform — or at least not one they’ve marketed with even half the success Gingrich enjoyed in ’94. They’ve got until spring, maybe, to come up with one.

Also, you can almost always trust Larry Sabato to have rock solid numbers, certainly more often than most any other pollster. However… in the 2004 presidential race, Sabato really let his heart get in the way of clear thinking. He predicted a narrow John Kerry electoral college victory, even though Sabato’s own poll numbers didn’t add up to that. Since then, I’ve come to trust his conclusions less than I trust his numbers. Keep that in mind when you read his stuff, or see him on TV.

So what will happen in 2010? Ask me again — in 2011.