Democratic Governors’ Association: ‘We Can Go on Offense’

By Jenny Schlesinger

Sep 28, 2010 2:33pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: While Democrats are generally have the notion that they’ll suffer significant setbacks in races across the country this fall, the Democratic Governors’ Association is launching new rounds of ads in three of the nation’s largest states: California, Texas, and Florida. All of those states now have Republican governors – and Democrats think they have a shot in all three, Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic governors’ group, said on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “We do think we can go on offense this year. There are no fewer than nine states where we think we have a chance of picking them up from Republican governors,” Daschle said. “All these states currently have Republican governors, and all of these places are where the Democrat is either winning or in striking distance,” Daschle continued. “And the reason this is important is because it says something about this electorate. It says what we know the polls are already confirming: This is not a pro-Republican electorate. This is an electorate that might still have some dissatisfaction with politics as an institution. But they’re just as eager, particularly at the state level, to like the Republican as to like the Democrat.”

Democrats now control 26 of the 50 governors’ offices. But that number appears likely to drop after this fall, with Democrats in particular trouble across a wide swath of the Midwest. Daschle said polls show Democrats getting closer in states including Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. And he said Democratic gubernatorial candidates would exceed expectations this year: “Republicans have said, quote — not really a quote — they will have 857 Republican governors at the end of this year,” he said. “Not really, but they’ve made public predictions between 31 and 38. That’s where they think they will be. They’re not going to get there. I think they’ll have a little egg on their face on election night when they don’t meet these projections. There’s no question in my mind that Republicans don’t hit what they say they’re going to hit.” Daschle also applauded the president’s efforts to energize the Democratic Party base. “It is critically important that the base gets out there,” he said. “The progressive base and a lot of Americans, independents too, did something very, very important in 2008. We put this country on a new course. And that work is yet to be finished. It’s very important that we continue this, and that’s why what happens in 2010 is just as important. It might be more important than what we did in 2008.” (We invited Daschle’s counterpart at the Republican Governors Association to join us as well, but he declined our invitation.) We also checked in with Nate Silver, who runs the FiveThirtyEight blog for The New York Times Website, on the political landscape, plus the president’s efforts to energize liberal voters.

“I don’t know if it’s the best motivational tactic,” Silver said. “As bad as numbers are for Democrats — and it is bad — there is something that we know: The Republican base is motivated. The Democratic base probably won’t become less motivated. And so if the enthusiasm gap is quote-un-quote ‘closed,’ it can probably hold the House by a few seats. It will certainly hold the Senate.”

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