Virginia and Tennessee aren't locked up by the incumbents, but Republicans were feeling better about them as the weekend ended, in large part because of the twin textbook media storms they generated via the New-Media-to-Old-Media conveyor belt last week. (To see how Matt Drudge did it, click here LINK )
The House is much more of a jumble. Some smart Democrats say they have 8 net seats in the bank, but might not win any more than 12 total. And there are smart Republicans saying they will lose at least 22 and as many as 42. There are still a lot of "entrenched" Republican incumbents who are not far ahead (or are even behind), and are thus not comfortable, including in some very Red places, and in some classic Purple Zones. (Yes, we mean you, Charlie Bass.)
(See Fred Barnes analysis of the "blowout belt. . . from Connecticut, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and ending with Indiana" to understand why even the Chief Reporter Who Does Not Rebel Against Rove is not so optimistic, but hasn't given up hope. LINK )
As in the Senate, Democrats are defending very few seats -- probably just two at this point, and might end up making history by losing zero incumbents.
The DCCC is spending real money in more than 45 races.
As we said, it is clear that some Democrats have made mistakes that are costing them leads and some incumbent Republicans have fought back. It is almost time for the parties, 527s, and candidates to stop polling (oh, my) and make final decisions about closing messages via ads and other delivery systems. Watch closely to see how many Democrats close with Iraq/Bush/change and how many Republicans close with the POTUS message of national security and taxes.
Why aren't more Republicans already squarely on the Bush mantra? According to one intellectually muscular Democratic strategist:
"1. Because, despite the hype, no one listens to Karl Rove anymore. 2. Because their district polls tell them that no one trusts Republicans on terror like they used to. 3. Because they need to put some backbone in the rhetoric of all politics being local. 4. Because Tom Reynolds has been too busy with his own race to enforce discipline on his conference. 5. Because they've had to spend too much time responding to charges that they've: voted for their own pay raise, against the minimum wage, against troop bonuses, and walked in lockstep with George Bush on Iraq and Social Security."
The Note believes that at least three of those five explanations are pretty solid.
On this final week of the 2006 campaign, President Bush -- who believes only one of those five explanations are solid -- has most likely completed his closed press appearances and heads out on the trail hoping to help save GOP majorities in the House and Senate. Mr. Bush attends a Georgia Victory 2006 Rally at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA at 11:05 am ET. Statesboro is home to one of the handful of competitive House contests being fought on Democratic held turf. Former Rep. Max Burns (R-GA) is battling to get back to the US House in his effort to defeat incumbent Rep. John Barrow (D-GA).
Holli Deal Bragg of the Statesboro Herald Notes the traffic tie ups, ticket sales, and protester eagerness in Statesboro, GA as the city prepares for its first presidential visit. LINK