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Fantasy Comeback

Stuart Rothenberg doesn’t think much of the “Democratic comeback!” blather. He writes:

There is a Democratic mini-surge going on, we are told, as some campaigns produce poll numbers showing they have been prematurely written off as, well, dead.

This often happens, though I must acknowledge that it didn’t happen in 2008, when Republican campaign strategists and consultants were brutally honest with themselves in acknowledging that their candidates were going to get slaughtered in the fall elections. How refreshing that was.

He looks at some individual races where the Democrat is “surging” to 38 percent (Rep. Betsy Markey of Colorado) or climbing “all the way” up to 45 percent (Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of Florida). Of course, any incumbent below 50 percent is in peril. And as for Markey, Rothenberg doesn’t pull any punches:

Remember, Markey voted for the stimulus bill, the health care reform bill and cap-and-trade after coming into my office as a candidate and stressing that she was a moderate Democrat. So I’m supposed to believe that at least a couple dozen other Democratic seats are going to turn Republican, but Markey’s seat isn’t?

Ouch. He sums up:

Democratic candidates need to go into the elections at or above the 50 percent mark in most districts. “Surging” to 45 percent of the vote simply isn’t enough. I certainly don’t expect Markey and Kosmas simply to throw in the towel and spend the last month of their re-election campaigns traveling throughout Europe. They still have time to make their cases about why they should be re-elected. But that doesn’t change the political reality of their situations.

Now the mainstream-media political gurus know this as well. But a “Democratic comeback!” story is catnip to them — a break from the dreary repetition of “Democrats sinking” stories. Unfortunately, the former is wishful thinking, not news. In the week leading up to the election, be prepared for the “race suddenly breaking to the Republicans” stories. Actually, it’s been breaking that way all along, but by the end of the contest, reporters and pundits want to make sure they’re not completely out of line with results they know in their heart of hearts are coming.


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