Judging by the ground rules established by the political parties concerning how the Washington press corps covers today's election-related events inside the Beltway, Democrats are probably preparing for a tough night, while Republicans are gearing up for what could be an historic election.
House Democrats and Republicans are each holding various press events today, but Democrats have been careful to control media access on election night, in anticipation of a vote count that analysts have predicted will result in a tumultuous evening for the Democratic Party.
That's in stark contrast to the celebration kicked off when then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats won control in the 2006 midterms and celebrated their victory in front of a throng of media and supporters.
In 2006, Democrats rode waves of anti-Bush and anti-war sentiment to the polls, picking up 30 seats in the House and six more in the Senate. For the first time in United States history, no Republican captured any House, Senate, or Gubernatorial seat that was previously held by a Democrat.
"Today the American people voted for change, and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction," Pelosi said after Democrats won big in 2006. "The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C. and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history."
But that was then, and this is now. When the wall-to-wall media coverage drags on into the late hours of the evening and into the early morning, Democrats will be noticeably muted as the election results are realized.
Both Parties Say No to Parties on Election Night
"The most 'open, honest, ethical congress in history' has been a failure on all three fronts," Ken Spain, Communications Director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, told ABC News. "It's ironic that the Democratic majority that came in with such a bang four years ago is going out with a whimper behind closed doors."
Brendan Daly, Communications Director for Speaker Pelosi, reacted by emphasizing some of the accomplishments of the Democratic-led Congress since Pelosi took the gavel in January 2007.
"House Democrats ended the link between lobbyists and legislation and have ensured greater accountability and transparency with the toughest ethics reform legislation in the history of the Congress and the establishment of the independent Office on Congressional Ethics," Daly said. "Meanwhile, shadowy front groups headed up by Republican operatives and funded by secret corporate donors are supporting the Republicans and their special interest agenda: shipping good-paying American jobs overseas, handing Social Security over to Wall Street, and turning Medicare over to the insurance companies."
Aides from both parties are careful not to dub their respective election evening events as parties.
"You will not see giddy aides and members [of Congress] dancing on the stage like the Democrats did in 2006. America is facing tough times with people out of work and a sputtering economy," John Murray, Director of Communications for the Office of the Republican Whip, told ABC News last week. "We understand that it's roll-up-the-sleeves time, not dance party USA."
This afternoon, Speaker of the House Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen will hold a photo opportunity with reporters at the DCCC headquarters on Capitol Hill. Pelosi and Van Hollen are expected to briefly address cameras, but are not likely to entertain any questions from the press.
As the polls close on the East Coast, Pelosi, Van Hollen and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are set to address Democratic supporters at a DCCC Election Watch Reception at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill. Those remarks will also be open to the press, but the rest of the Democrats' reception will be closed to reporters while the election results trickle in from across the country.
On the other side of the aisle, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, is hosting an Election Night Results Watch at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. Sessions, who is one of the chief architects of the potential Republican takeover in the House, will be joined by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, who stands poised to take over as the next House speaker in the event of a Republican takeover tonight.
ABC News Complete Election Coverage
In order to seize control of the House of Representatives, Republicans must pick up 39 seats, while the GOP needs to pick up 10 seats in the Senate to win control there. Most political pundits and analysts believe Republicans will be victorious in the House, but will likely fall short in their quest to take over the Senate.
ABC News will broadcast a Vote 2010 Midterm Election special anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos from 9:30 p.m. ET until 11:00 p.m., and then again at 12:30 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Terry Moran will help anchor an extended one-hour edition of Nightline from the NRCC watch reception starting at 11:35 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. Moran will be joined by Nightline anchors Bill Weir covering an election night rally in Los Angeles for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, and Cynthia McFadden in Chicago with the Alex Giannoulias Senate campaign.