Congressman John Murtha, the hawkish Democrat who stunned Washington last year with his call for withdrawing US troops from Iraq, predicted that US forces will come home next year -- either because of public pressure or a Democratic-controlled Congress.
The lawmaker on Thursday predicted a political tidal wave in November, comparable to the post-Watergate class of 1974 -- when he was first elected -- or the Republican rout in 1994 that will give the Democrats control of the House.
His estimate: Democrats will win 40-50 House seats. This is far more than the 15 necessary to take charge from Republicans.
"They're not going to understand how bad it's going to be," Murtha said in an interview with the Associated Press. "They're going to get shocked."
Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, dismissed Murtha's prediction, saying Republicans will maintain a majority.
Murtha argued that the war has become increasingly unpopular and amounts to an Achilles heel for President George W. Bush and Congress.
He said the president will either bow to pressure and withdraw the troops in 2007 -- about 130,000 are in Iraq now -- or congressional Democrats will pressure the White House.