Desperate, Dispirited and Crumbling

Rich Galen
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Posted: Oct 18, 2010 2:24 PM
Desperate, Dispirited and Crumbling

Anyone who has been hoping for a change in the tide running with Republicans found themselves swimming upstream after reading yesterday's coverage of the November 2 mid-term elections which are how 15 days away.

Even an article by Ewen MacAskill in the U.K. Guardian article led with: "Barack Obama hit the campaign trail again today in a desperate effort to save Democrats facing a Republican avalanche in next month's mid-term elections."

Who would have thought, two years ago, that President Obama would have so badly mishandled his first two years in office that the word "desperate" would be attached to him in the final weeks of the mid-term season?

The news only got worse.

The Washington Post's chief political writer Dan Balz wrote that, in spite of Democrats' recent attempts to force the national narrative into "We're on the move."

"The two best handicappers, Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg, continue to add districts to their lists of competitive seats.

"Rothenberg this week raised the number of potential battlegrounds to an even 100, with 91 now held by the Democrats. Cook pegs the number at 97, with 90 held by Democrats."

Rothenberg had previously been far less bullish on Republican chances in the House than Charlie Cook, so his most recent breakdown is especially telling.

Also telling, according to Balz, is the estimate by Joe Gaylord of whom you may have never heard, but everyone in Washington has. He has been Newt's political guru since the 1980s. Balz wrote that Gaylord "predicted last week that Republicans will pick up between 59 and 63 seats."

Just a couple of weeks ago Gaylord told me he was "comfortable" with predicting a 50-seat pick-up.

More?

The AP's lead political writer, Liz Sidoti, greeted her Sunday morning readers with a summary of a new Associated Press/Knowledge Networks poll. Her piece led with:

"President Obama's winning coalition from 2008 has crumbled, and his core backers are dispirited."

"Crumbled" and "dispirited." Two more words I didn't think I'd be reading in conjunction with Obama.

The reason the data showing Obama's coalition has disintegrated is important is because the whole strategy behind his running around the country is an attempt to renew the excitement he generated two years ago.

If the AP poll is correct and there is no coalition left to excite, then this is the political equivalent of a tree falling in the forest when no one is around.

In the his Guardian piece, MacAskill wrote that Obama can't trumpet his legislative successes because they are unpopular with likely voters so, "he has gone negative, playing on fears of the impact of Republican control of Congress, warning of return to Bush-era politics."

Bush is looking better and better every day.

By the way, how do you think Bush did in his first mid-term election? Remember the set-up? Bush, a Republican in the White House. GOP control of the House and down two (49-51) in the Senate.

In 2002 House Republicans went into the election with a margin of 221-212 (with 2 Independents). They came out of the 2002 election +8 and started the next Congress 229-204 (1 Ind).

The GOP also took back control of the Senate by going plus 2 in the mid-terms.

Wonder if Obama will order the political geniuses around him to look back at Bush's first two years to see what Bush (and Karl Rove) did right and what Obama (and David Axelrod) have done wrong?

If Republicans pick up 50+ seats and come back to town with a 228-207 margin heading into the 112th Congress, it will be very interesting to see just how aggressive Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be in the Last Gasp sessions of the 111th.

I may not know everything about politics but I know this: With two weeks to go it's better for the other guys to be desperate, dispirited, and crumbling.