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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Be Skeptical About Mid-Term Spin

Jonathan Singer takes a skeptical look at a pair of Politico posts by Josh Kraushaar (one via Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report) concluding that Democratic prospects for the midterms are looking bleak based on some questionable indicators. Here’s Singer, after quoting Kraushaar:

Three potential Democratic candidates in long-held GOP districts that lean as many as 13 points more Republican than the nation as a whole decide not to run for Congress in 2010 and it’s “a telling indicator that the political environment in 2010 is shaping up to be favorable for Republicans,” yet news that the Democrats have gotten a stellar candidate to change his mind in favor of running against a potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent and it’s an entirely separate story that doesn’t weigh in on the meme. Interesting.

Singer’s skepticism is warranted, and he makes three salient points Dems should keep in mind, looking toward the midterms:

Don’t get me wrong, the 2010 cycle isn’t looking like the 2006 and 2008 cycles. It’s not a cornucopia of Democratic successes, with the Democrats playing offense everywhere. That said, the hastiness with which the campaign watchers are willing to proclaim a Republican revival is quite remarkable. The Democrats continue to recruit strong candidates, though in fewer numbers than in recent years, and have thus far managed to stem a tide of retirements, generally a leading indicator of losses to come. What’s more, as mentioned here and elsewhere, the GOP isn’t raising anywhere near the type of money necessary to run a competitive nationwide effort next year. So up to and until there are some actual metrics pointing to a GOP takeover of the House in 2010 rather than mere assumptions that the Republicans are on the rise, I am remain skeptical of the Beltway common wisdom.

And a commenter named “the mollusk” responds to Singer’s post with another pertinent observation:

None of us know how we’ll feel after Health Care Reform passes. Personally, I think people are underestimating the importance of that in the current dynamic. The process feels stalled right now and that feels like a Democratic defeat. If it comes in December or January, a lot of Congressors will have a good stump speech when they go back home. The Repubs, on the other hand, will just have to go back and say “I voted against the single biggest reform measure in 60 years and it passed anyhow”. Flaccid stuff.

A wise perspective. With Democratic recruitments holding their own, retirements low, GOP fund-raising lagging and health reform legislation soon to be enacted, predicting a big year for the Republicans seems a tad premature. The Republican strategy going forward requires incessant spin trumpeting a mounting, through mythical, backlash against Democrats. Smart pundits and bloggers will take it into account before accepting the GOP spin wholesale.

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