The Note: Everything's Different Now

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5

With an accuracy rate higher than fifty million Elvis fans, CookRothenbergBalzBroderTonerHookCillizza can't be wrong LINK therefore:

If the election were held today, Democrats would take control of the House by a few seats, fall a few seats short in the Senate, and net some gubernatorial slots.

But there are fifty million political lifetimes between now and the actual election, and what Hardy called "hap" and RoveMehlman call "making your own luck" can still intervene in one hundred million ways.

Consider it the "Battle of the C's." Republicans want this to be a choice election, while Democrats want it to be a change election.

(Smart Republican candidates are trying -- Reagan-style -- to convince voters that they are the change, while confident Democratic candidates believe they can win a choice war, but those are stories for another day, or, at least, another Note.)

WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT TO GET DONE

1. Use their (current) congressional majorities to frame the debate and influence voters' minds. (But there are three big caveats to that plan: (1) the party within Congress is divided on a lot of big issues; (2) pleasing the base will be tough; see, for example, today's Wall Street Journal ed board complex marching orders; and, (3) Note to Kevin Madden: real people don't pay much attention to what Congress does -- for which you might end up being very glad.)

2. Use the presidential bullhorn to frame the debate and influence voters' minds. (No matter how many times Democrats complain, Mr. Bush's speeches, like today's midday talk on terror, will be roadblocked on cable and bound to influence morning and evening broadcast news programs, much more than anything PelosiReid say or do.)

3. Wait for deep-pocketed "outside," and "independent" groups to spend big in key races. (Where will this start and when? We dunno. But it is coming.)

4. Have allies paint scary pictures of a Democratic-controlled House. (See today's other Wall Street Journal choking-canary-in-the-coal-mine editorial on union organization.)

5. Assume/hope/pray that Rahm's candidates can't channel Rahm's sluggo style when responding to the approaching onslaught of negative ads. (As best the RNC/NRCC/NRSC can tell, every Democrat on the ballot is weak on terror and in favor of higher taxes -- as reflected in TV spots -- and in favor of gays and against guns and God -- per direct mail, robo calls, and church fliers.)

WHAT DEMOCRATS WANT TO GET DONE

1. Put the nation in a time machine, set it for November 7, and vote vote vote.

The signature political events of the day are a presidential speech and a PelosiReid prebuttal.

The President delivers his second speech on the "Global War on Terror" in his latest series of such speeches at 1:20 pm ET in Washington, DC. (Before that, Mr. Bush meets with the Amir of Kuwait in the Oval Office at 11:00 am ET.)

ABC News' Jessica Yellin reported on "Good Morning America" this morning that the White House communications shop was up early today distributing a 23-page long handbook on the Administration's "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" including detailed descriptions of the nature of the enemy. Yellin reports the White House likens the struggle against terrorism to the decades-long Cold War.

"This is much more serious than election year politics," White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend said to ABC News' Robin Roberts on GMA this morning.

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