As the midterm elections approach, voters are trying to sort out politics, personality and policy issues. It's not always easy and this could be the most volatile election since the GOP groundswell of 1994 — or even the post-Watergate vote in 1974.
National issues — including the war in Iraq, unemployment and immigration — loom large in this fall's congressional races. But they're viewed through a local prism.
If you're a Republican you want it to be a local election, and if you're a Democrat you want it to be a national election. And, there are some places where it is a personal election, where the peccadilloes of the incumbent have affected what otherwise would be a safe election.
With President Bush sinking in the polls over his handling of Iraq, and with all the difficulties that the GOP having, it's very difficult for the Republicans to defend the national policy.
The Democrats are saying it's time for a change. That leaves the Republicans with this message: even if you're upset with the national policy, you still like your own representative in Congress. If that strategy works, the Republicans may be able to save some of the incumbents who are in danger of losing their seats.