WASHINGTON, Oct. 19
[The Note begins today with a series of sentences that simultaneously will infuriate both conservatives and liberals, and explain the current state of the midterm elections.]
Despite the fact that many of the Democrats' House and Senate candidates are quite liberal (read: "too liberal for the people they hope to represent") and/or have things in their backgrounds that would normally be ample fodder for disqualification by the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Mehlman machine, fewer than five Democratic candidates in the whole country in contested races are even close to being successfully branded (so far) as too liberal and too kooky.
The Old Media -- giddy with excitement over the prospect of the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Mehlman machine losing, filled with guilt over complicity in an Iraq war it wants ended, flush with anticipation over two years of anti-Bush leaks from a gavel-wielding Henry Waxman, and substantially more interested in revelations about congressional pages than in trying to tell voters the truth about whether or not the economy is strong and getting stronger -- can barely contain itself on its secret morning conference calls with Howard Dean and George Soros, during which it was agreed just this morning that, yes, we can keep the meta-narrative ("The Democrats are going to beat Bush and run Congress!!") going for another 19 days, without interruption.
Although conservatives think the New York Times/CBS poll is always biased against them, that the Los Angeles Times and Gallup is almost always biased against them, and that the ABC News/Washington Post poll is occasionally biased against them, the Right pretty much has agreed over the years that the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is rock solid. Today, that's a problem.
To be a cockeyed optimist in the Republican Party today means to believe that:
-- Today's polls are a mere snapshot, and there is plenty of time for things to change.
-- Republicans will keep control of the House by four seats and the Senate by one or two, leaving virtually no working majority on anything.
-- There will be an intervening national security event that will focus the minds of independents and rally the base.
-- Not only will increasing numbers of Democratic candidates be disqualified as liberal and kooky in the coming days -- via television advertising and more targeted forms of voter contact -- but the votes and quotes of Nancy Pelosi and various committee-chairs-in-waiting (and the ethics of Harry Reid) will totally change the current dynamics, once again focusing the minds of independents and rallying the base.
-- The Democrats have nothing to match the 72-Hour task force that has turned out conservatives in amazing numbers in the last two national elections.
-- Democrats have no idea how to close a deal.
--That in the end, Republican voters will act based on their feelings about their individual members of Congress and not about the national party -- ironically, a referendum rather than a choice, which is the opposite of the Rove-Mehlman mantra that won in 2002 and 2004.
But then there is that Wall Street Journal/NBC set of digits. In a story that's chock-full of must-read quotations from Republican pollster Bill McInturff, the Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes and John Harwood report that according to their poll President Bush and his party are in "worse shape than Democrats were in the October before they lost control of Capitol Hill a dozen years ago." LINK