I'm staying home. There's not a single politician on offer that is worth my vote.
Could that be the storyline for the '06 election?
People talk about Bush's approval ratings being bad - but his numbers are 30% higher than Congress. The war has passed from the front pages, the economy is humming very well, unemployment is very low by historical standards - and 60% of those polled say that the "country is headed in the wrong direction".
Historically, mid term elections do not have very high turn out rates when compared to Presidential election years. It is not at all unusual to see turnout drop into the low 40's versus the mid to high 50's for a Presidential race. Mid terms also revolve around local issues with occasional state wide issues coming into play when there is a tight race for Governor or Senator. Otherwise, it's all incumbency and a close look at how the Congresscritter has done in earmarking the pork for the locals to divvy up. The last time there was intense national interest in a mid-term was when Newt came up with the Contract for America - and I believe that was successful only because of Miz Clinton's try for nationalization of health care the previous year.
Could either party generate a "Contract" attractive enough to generate substantial interest? Perhaps, although I simply do not see any specific issues that lend themselves to massive interest. Remember - Newt's contract played off the residual fear that Perot generated with his &$%^ straight line charts that showed us going to hell in absolutely nothing flat. Perot was successful in parlaying that fear into a defeat for GHWB because of the media's manipulation of economic results - the economic hiccup of 90-91 was well over prior to the election but you couldn't tell it from the reporting being done by the MSM.
By the same token, MSM economic reporting today masks the underlying strength of the current economy and may account for quite a bit of that "wrong direction" number. Is the medias focus on the negative going to push down turnout? If so, does either party stand to gain (or lose) because of that downturn? Keeping in mind that low turnout tends to favor incumbents just a tad, I would posit that it will have the effect of maintenance of the majority. Not exactly what the MSM has in mind but then, there is no evidence available that they have ever really known what they are doing at any rate.
Btw - I haven't missed voting in any election since '72 - and I won't miss voting in '06 either. Early and often is the Ballard motto and I intend to keep to it.