More Seats In Play Good News For Dems genre: Polispeak

Talk is cheap

While it may not be scientific to look at trending, there is growing evidence that the GOP is on the wrong side of this one. I keep thinking back to the days following the 2004 election and the statement by President Bush that the election had given him political capital and that he intended to use it. As I look at the events between that moment and now, it may have been one of the most precipitous falls in recent presidential history...and November 7th may attach the exclamation mark to the story. The Los Angeles Times has a new article that discusses the expanding number of congressional seats in play.

Republican seats at risk have nearly tripled since January, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Then, 18 GOP seats were endangered; now, 48 are considered in play.

"The battleground is way broader than anyone thought was possible," said Eli Pariser, executive director of the political action committee associated with the liberal group

To take back the House, which they lost in 1994, Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats — something they could do, perhaps, without capturing any of these newly competitive seats. But Democratic strategists believe that if the party can break into this second tier of Republican-leaning districts, they could greatly increase their odds of building a majority large enough to survive for longer than two years.

In a measure of the party's growing optimism, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to announce Tuesday that it will begin airing advertisements in 11 new districts, including eight the party had not considered competitive until recently, party sources say.

It really is remarkable to witness this election cycle unfold. My own suspicion is that the news on election night is going to be clear and convincing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the Democrats are destined for a sweeping victory...although that looks possible. What I mean to say is that the election is going to be a big win and a big loss...because I just don't expect the results to be inconclusive. The message from voters will either be a demand for change or an anemic acceptance of the status quo...and that means that the Democrats either win big or lose big. I just don't think anyone will argue otherwise. Perhaps that's the irony of a referendum election.

"In order for them to make any of these races potentially come true, they have to spend money there, and it's unclear how much money they have left or how much in debt they are willing to go," said Carl Forti, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Still, in elections characterized by a strong desire for change, such as 1974 and 1994, the current of discontent was powerful enough to sweep in even underfunded challengers. And whatever happens Nov. 7, it is already clear that Democrats have generated intense pressure on many Republicans who have not needed to run full-scale campaigns for years — and did not expect to do so now.

The thing I find the most baffling about this type of an election is the inability to actually predict the outcome...despite ample evidence of voter sentiment. There are clear indications that a majority of voters are disenchanted with the Iraq war and the general direction the GOP has taken the country and yet it will still come down, in large part, to who actually goes to the polls and votes. I guess that fact is an indictment of American voter apathy. I know I'll never get an answer to the following question, but I would love to know the numbers..."If we were able to poll every voting age American, would it affirm what pollsters call trends or would it prove that talk is really as cheap as it often appears to be?" So much for speculation.

Daniel DiRito | October 23, 2006 | 1:17 PM
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