01 November 2010

Reading the tea leaves

Here are a few last-minute tea leaves to read in regards to tomorrow's election:
  • Where are people campaigning?  President Obama spent the weekend in Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Bridgeport (CT).  While there are competitive races in all of these states, if your chief campaigner is spending his time firing up the voter base in cities the candidates should already be solid in, it's not a good sign.
  • Final polls: The final Gallup generic congressional ballot numbers favor Republicans 55-40 among likely voters, and 48-44 among registered voters.  This is consistent with Gallup's polling last week, and also matches big GOP leads on similar surveys from Pew, CNN, Fox News, among others.  In other words, nothing has changed in the last week of the election to suspect that Democrats have closed the gap.  If at all, Republicans have pushed their lead even higher.  Also, don't be surprised to see a last day poll or two (or few or more) showing a very close race in a district that, even until now, was supposedly safe).  Finally, 10 of 11 polls in RealClearPolitics' poll averages of Governor and Senate races showed GOP advantages widening or Democratic leads dwindling.
  • What are the Democrats saying?  This article says it all:
There is nearly uniform consensus among Democratic campaign professionals that the House is gone — the only question, it seems, is how many seats they will lose. 
While few will say so on the record for fear of alienating party officials or depressing turnout, every one of nearly a dozen Democratic House consultants and political strategists surveyed expect a GOP majority to be elected Tuesday — the consensus was that Democrats would lose somewhere between 50 and 60 seats. 
A senior party consultant who was on the low end with his predictions said the party would lose between 40 and 50 seats. On the high end, one Democratic consultant said losses could number around 70 seats. 
All spoke to the grimness of the mood. 
“It sucks,” said Dave Beattie, a Florida-based Democratic pollster who is working on a slate of competitive House races and who acknowledges that the lower congressional chamber is lost. “I’m resigned to the fact that it sucks.” 
While there was optimistic talk within party circles early this month that the electoral environment was improving for the party, the operatives said those conversations don’t take place anymore. 
“If some Democratic consultant told you they are feeling better, they must have dropped some heavy drugs,” said a senior pollster who is working for candidates in competitive races. “It’s hard."
Still, among those in the Democratic consulting class, there’s a gloomy acknowledgment that many of the incumbents the DCCC has spent millions of dollars to protect won’t be coming back to Congress. 
“Everybody that is tied will lose, and everyone that is ahead by a few points will lose because of the GOP wave,” said one party media consultant who is involved in a wide array of House races. “There are going to be some surprises.”
Some strategists have resigned themselves to an election night that will bring an early end to the promising careers of Democrats they shepherded to victories in 2006 and 2008. 
“In a wave election, part of the problem is that you feel powerless. Everything I feel I know how to do, that I’m trained to do, I can’t do. And that feeling is pervasive,” said the pollster. “There’s a sense that there’s nothing you can do about it. When you know your friends are on the chopping block, it’s hard.” 
“There’s nothing worse than talking to an incumbent member of Congress who’s been cut off by the DCCC and who has no money,” said another Democratic consultant who has worked on crafting some of the party’s TV ads this cycle. “It’s like talking to a dead man walking.” 
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