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Seventy-Five Seats! Do I Hear 80?

So much for the storyline that the Democrats have turned the corner in the midterm races. The New York Times tells us:

Republicans are expanding the battle for the House into districts that Democrats had once considered relatively safe, while Democrats began a strategy of triage on Monday to fortify candidates who they believe stand the best chance of survival.

As Republicans made new investments in at least 10 races across the country, including two Democratic seats here in eastern Ohio, Democratic leaders took steps to pull out of some races entirely or significantly cut their financial commitment in several districts that the party won in the last two election cycles.

This is not uncommon in a wave election year. As the party with the advantage builds momentum and the party under siege loses supporters (financial and otherwise), the numbers get more dire for the latter. A romp turns into a rout. The party going under suffers from a despondent base, begins to look desperate, and lacks funds to try to turn things around. So far, these incumbents are officially being sacrificed in an effort to save others:

Representatives Steve Driehaus of Ohio, Suzanne M. Kosmas of Florida and Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania were among the Democrats who learned that they would no longer receive the same infusion of television advertising that party leaders had promised. Party strategists conceded that these races and several others were slipping out of reach.

But these are just a few. As the playing field expands, the incumbent party’s situation deteriorates:

The strategic decisions unfolded at a feverish pace on Monday over an unusually wide playing field of nearly 75 Congressional districts, including here in Ohio, a main battleground in the fight for the House and the Senate. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s election arm in the House, can afford to make the new investments because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a host of newly formed political organizations have come to the aid of Republican candidates who have far less money than the Democratic incumbents. …

Television and radio advertisements are aimed at Representatives Charlie Wilson and Zack Space, both Democrats who were elected in 2006, while new pieces of literature tying the men to President Obama and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, are arriving in the mail.

If 75 seats are in play on Monday — how many will slip into that category by the weekend? Democrats insist that the playing field isn’t expanding at all. No, sirree. Everything is perfectly fine. But, listen, you can hardly blame them — absolute panic isn’t going to improve matters. It’s hard to think what would, at this point.


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