The Sunday before election day is a good time to see how the top political beat reporters for major newspapers see the election shaping up, and after all of the cautionary notes have been sounded, the consensus among the big three is to expect good news for Democrats.
Ron Brownstein gets the nod for best Sunday pre-election wrap-up in the major rags with a pair of L.A. Times articles “Voters in center may get their say” and “Democrats straining for knockout punch.” In the first piece Brownstein explores the theme that Democrats are pulling ahead because they more aggressively fought for swing voters in the political center, while the GOP has been preoccupied with shoring up its base. Perhaps the nut quote comes from former NRCC Chairman Thomas Davis III (R-VA):
…[the message] is going to be that swing voters still count, and sometimes the more you cater to your base, the more you turn off swing voters
Some Democratic poll analysts think this could be an understatement. “I think their whole model is going to lay shattered in pieces,” says Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg.
Brownstein cites some impressive poll data showing Dems with a double-digit lead among independents:
a compilation of more than 41,000 automated survey interviews conducted last week in competitive congressional districts from coast to coast, the nonpartisan Majority Watch project found that independents preferred Democratic candidates over Republicans by 52% to 39%.
In his second article, Brownstein zeros in on the see-saw Missouri senate race, which may decide whether Democrats win a majority in the U.S. Senate and which he believes has evolved into the marquee contest for Tuesday:
The 15-round struggle between Talent and McCaskill has been the heavyweight title fight of 2006. Each has proved skilled, resourceful and resilient, able to land a punch and take one. The winner will have earned his or her ticket to Washington and the opportunity to tilt the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
Dan Balz and David Broder provide a by-the-numbers tour of races across the nation in their WaPo wrap-up “Democrats, on the Offensive, Could Gain Both Houses,” and note an even larger lead for Dems among independents (18 percent) in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. The New York Times leads with “G.O.P. Glum as It Struggles to Hold Congress” by Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner, focusing on the voter turnout battle and races getting late cash infusions from the parties. Three days out, things are looking extremely good.