A Little Good News For A Change
Nothing like waking up to headlines like these to get your day started off well:
— A Political Limbo: How Low Can Republicans Go? (Newsweek)
— Foley & The Polls: Americans Taking Aim At GOP Sex-Chat Scandal (NYDailyNews)
But don't get too giddy, yet. Chris Bowers breaks down all the numbers and the news at MyDD:
Democrats look to be headed for control of the House, but these polls cannot give us a reliable estimate of how many seats Democrats will win next month. It could still be very narrow control. Further, with this much time left, there is still an opportunity for Republicans to recover and maintain narrow control. I wanted to write this lest people start discussing Democratic landslides that approach 50-60 seats, which are the sort of expectations that can only produce huge letdowns and bad post-election media narratives. Perhaps even more worrisome, over-reaching expectations can cause voter and activist retrenchment if Republicans start to close the gap in the final few weeks, and our unrealistic hopes no longer seem achievable.
Unless something truly remarkable happens in individual district polling, I will never forecast a Democratic gain anywhere near 50 seats. No one should. However, even with all of the caveats I listed above, polls like these do suggest that it is now likely that not only will Democrats win Congress, but that they could very well do so with a majority surpassing anything Republicans have put together since 1994. To pull that off, Democrats would need a 30-seat gain, making their total number of seats 233. Once we pass 218, hitting 233 seems like a pretty darn good target to me. Anything after 233 is just, well, kind of hard to believe. A thirty-seat gain would be our largest in thirty-two years, so that is already shooting pretty high. Let's not get our hopes up beyond that, because I don't see either what good it would do us, or how it is all that probable.
All of this — every single bit of it — is dependent on a few factors:
(1) Getting out our vote, from absentee ballots to early voting through to the election. This has to be the number one priority — period.
(2) Republicans continuing to be their own worst nightmares in terms of the drip, drip, drip of the Foley mess to the continuing mess that is Iraq and Afghanistan to any number of other factors from the economy to whatever else may be driving voters this year. And a lot of that news is out of our control — as is the public's interpretation of it.
(3) This may be the most important factor of all — the ability of individual Democratic candidates to catch the eye of folks in their district, and convince them that not only are they better than the Republican opponent, but that they will be better for the individual voter — giving someone a reason not only to vote against the GOP, but to vote FOR people we'd rather see in all of those seats.
It's still a toss-up, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's awfully nice to at least feel like we have some momentum on our side, isn't it? The best way to keep that going? Volunteer for a local progressive candidate, and help them send out voting reminder postcards and make calls and do some neighborhood canvassing. Tip O'Neill was absolutely correct that "all politics is local" — and you can make an enormous difference for your community by getting involved in a local campaign.
Have you registered to vote? (If you live in Virginia, for example, today is the last day for voter registration in that state and a number of others. Check with your county clerk — or whomever is responsible for registration in your area — to be certain you are registered.) Are your friends and family registered to vote — now would be a good time to ask. Make plans to bring someone to the polls with you — for early voting or on election day.
Have you considered volunteering as a poll worker? Please think about it — we could use you! So many ways to help out — but not a lot of time left. Please take some time today to get up, get involved, and keep this Democratic momentum going all the way to November.
Had enough? I know I sure as hell have. And at the moment, anyway, it looks like a whole lot of America feels the same way.
(I found this photo on a tuxedo rental website from Indiana, and I couldn't resist it. Adorable.)