Running against former President George W. Bush worked for the first few months of 2009 in special elections but doesn't work so well now. While voters are happy to blame him for the beginning of the recession, he no longer seems to be terribly relevant; attacking him doesn't seem to get much traction these days. Candidates have found that running on the effectiveness and success of their economic stewardship doesn't work, nor on efforts to address climate change or on the new health care law.
Since voters aren't happy at all with Washington or anything that has happened in Washington in years, Democrats don't have much to brag about. Therefore, they have to run against their challengers, just in the same way that Republicans were advised to run by their equally astute advisers in 2006.
So Democrats are now trying to portray the field of Republican challengers and open seat candidates as the most sordid group since "Gov. William J. Lepetomaine" and "Attorney General Hedley Lamarr" put together their group of ax murderers, cattle thieves, and other miscreants to go after Sheriff Bart and the idyllic town of Rock Ridge in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.
For those with young children, it may be a good time to make sure the Disney Channel is paid up on your cable and the DVD player is in good working order. You really don't want your kids watching commercial television these days, given the negative ads that are already running by candidates on both sides.
There is no question that Democrats have their backs to the wall. It's unprecedented to see so many incumbents running behind their challengers.
While the Cook Political Report has a general policy of not putting unindicted incumbents in categories worse than our "Toss Up" column, which is akin to the critical ward of a hospital, we are now looking at moving a dozen or so Democratic House incumbents into the Lean Republican column (Sen. Blanche Lincoln is already there).
Furthermore, only one GOP incumbent today seems to be a candidate for moving into Lean Democratic. With less than a month to go to the election, something could obviously happen that would change the trajectory of this election -- but it would have to be something pretty dramatic, and I don't see that happening.
Friday, October 08, 2010
Washington's best political analyst, Charlie Cook, says that if the Democrats lose control of Congress in November, it's their own fault: