Saturday, October 14, 2006

Polls, Polls and More Polls

Let's not lose our heads. Yes, the political environment looks good for throwing some bums out of Congress, perhaps good enough to give Democrats majority control of the House, but still not good enough to win the Senate. Recall that at least one pollster, Rasmussen, hasn't found any partisan shift or shift of evangelical votes after the Foley scandal. Remember that Jim Webb in Virginia still hasn't come to terms with his sexism and probably never will, and he's making no headway in his campaign. Recall that Claire McCaskill gave a pitiful performance in her Meet the Press debate last Sunday. Remember that we're talking about Democrats, who, given the slightest chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, will do so every time, versus Republicans, who play an admirable end game with an awesome machine for turning out votes where they count.

We're back to toss-up status in the Tennessee senate race, where Democrat Harold Ford's lead over Bob Corker has narrowed, after briefly moving into a more comfortable zone. In the Rasmussen count, that makes 49 Republican seats, 48 Democrat seats and three toss-ups in Tennessee, New Jersey and Missouri. Democrats have to win all three to take control of the Senate. Again, one could almost weep for the lost opportunities. If Democratic blogs had taken Jim Webb to task early on and insisted that he humble himself over his sexist comments, Virginia might be in play now. If Democrats had coached Claire McCaskill for her Meet the Press debate, she might have a runaway lead this week. Anyway, the Senate is looking worse post-Foley than it did before.

The House, on the other hand, is probably better. If you want to add some sparkle and sunshine to your day, take a look at Charlie Cook's "National Overview" at the Cook Report:

Category 5 Hurricane Heads for House GOP

This is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority. The chances of that number going higher are also strong, unless something occurs that fundamentally changes the dynamic of this election. This is what Republican strategists' nightmares look like.

This Democracy Corps memo (pdf) is brightly optimistic, but don't expect us to vouch for anything with James Carville's name on it. Carville is to political analysis what Wayne Madsen is to investigative reporting.


We do not often get to write such a report — changes so large over such a short period that they certainly portend a whole new playing field for the November election . . . The end of the Congress — with the increased pessimism and anger about Iraq and the Foley scandal and subsequent partisan brawl — has moved voters to shift their assessments of the parties and their votes. The 1994 election broke at the end; this one just broke. The shift is evident on every indicator — party, Bush, war, intensity and morale. The shift this poll shows in the Republican held seats reflects a dramatic change nationally in the generic congressional ballot. On Monday, Democracy Corps will release a report that shows that a 5-point swing on average to the Democrats in the ten media polls conducted in October. The Democratic vote, stuck at 49 percent for months, suddenly jumped to 53 percent in the last two weeks. We highlight these findings this Friday afternoon because Democrats and progressives need to think radically differently about the 2006 battle — in this three-week window. In 1994, the race shifted dramatically at the end, but Democrats have a chance to consolidate gains large enough to affect congressional control over this decade. That means allocating resources and finding new resources to lock in the gains, as the Republicans move their much greater resources up to the new barricades.

Sound analysis or a sales pitch for Carville's services? We rather expect it's the latter.

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