MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This week's announcement by Mississippi senator Trent Lott that he is joining the ranks of Republicans leaving Congress has our news analyst, Daniel Schorr, thinking about the plight of the GOP.

DANIEL SCHORR: With the resignation of Trent Lott, that makes six Republican senators and 17 Republican House members who have announced that they are bowing out. The stated reasons are various. Senator Lott, whose son is a lobbyist, has denied that new lobbying restrictions played any big role. He did say that he was troubled by his inability to forge compromises with Democrats on needed legislation, like the immigration bill.

But clearly, the congressional Republicans appear to be alarmed about a gathering storm that may shift the center of gravity away from their party. That concern is reflected in an article in the National Review, the House organ of conservative Republicans. The cover headline is "The Coming Cataclysm." It says, the grim truth is that the Republicans face a calamitous political situation. The result of this may be more government involvement in the economy and more liberal justices on the Supreme Court.

The article calls the results of a Pew poll, from earlier this year, ominous. When asked which party they lean towards, 50 percent of respondents said Democrats, 35, Republicans. The article said the Iraq war has eroded the Republicans' edge on national security. And on domestic issues, it says, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the Democratic advantage. The National Review goes on to say that while Republicans are depressed these days, their condition is actually worse than they think it is. One issue after another, including the economy, global warming, independent voters are lining up with Democratic positions.

It may be that we are faced with one of those shifts in voting patterns that political scientists call a realignment. Such a shift may have been engineered by Richard Nixon. His so-called southern strategy in the 1960s may have ended the tradition of a solidly Democratic south. Whether the 2008 election will mark the end of the Republican reign is what has Republicans on edge.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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