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September 28, 2009


How could there be a Republican resurgence? Paul Krugman said only a few months ago that the party "seems to be in a death spiral." Bob Herbert wrote about the "incredibly shrinking Republican Party." Colin Powell announced, "The Republican Party is in deep trouble," and said, "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."

And these lamentations for the Republicans were widely echoed. It seemed the only way Republicans could avoid complete marginalization would be to adopt the Democrats' political philosophy.

So forget this political science mumbo jumbo. The Republicans are toast. We have it on excellent authority.

FWIW my guess is that the Dems will do fairly well in the election. They may have done a terrible job on policy (GITMO closing debacle, failed economic approach, lack of transparancy, Afghan failure, enormous pork spending, etc.), but they have done a fine job politically. They've funneled lots of money to their supporters - unions, ACORN, etc. These special interest groups will fight tooth and nail for them in the next election.

Add in media favoritism and the power of incumbancy. The Dems will likely do OK.

What I find interesting about this whole conversation is the lack of focus on actual Congressional districts. When you look at the 84 CD's currently held by Democrats, that went for either Bush 2004 or McCain 2008, the 48 Democratic seats that went for Bush and McCain, the 54 seats that were in Republican hands four years go, it is very clear that the party's vulnerability exceeds their margin of 40 seats.

I was interested in your comment, "There's no comparable regional partisan shift working against the Democrats right now."

Have you been in the South lately? The level of anti-Obama, anti-Democratic and anti-Congress venom is extraordinary, and with 59 Democrat-held seats in the region, 22 in or potentially in competitive districts, this is a very serious situation for Democrats. I have had several Democratic members from the region say the atmosphere is as bad or worse than it was in 1994.

This is not just about President Obama. It is anti-Congress and anti-Democratic Congress.

While the election is obviously 13 months away and much can change, that means it could get better, or snowball and get worse. To the extent that Democratic performance in 2008 was elevated by unusually high African-American turnout, that exposure to decline is even greater.

At this point, Democratic members in the South, Border South, Mountain states, in districts with heavy rural and small town populations as opposed to urban and suburban, particularly those with few transplants from other parts of the country, and fewer college graduates, are at particular exposure. Some of these members have either never had a tough race or haven't in many years, with campaign organizations that are hardly sharped to a fine edge.

So while the Democratic performance in the generic Congressional, which is substantially lower than it was during the periods leading up to the 2006 and 2008 elections, when these majorities were built, that is only part of the case for why this may be an extremely challenging election for Democrats.

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