What a difference a few weeks make. Three weeks after Newsweek writers, Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift, gloatingly declared the End of GOP Dominance and just a week after that same magazine announced that the Republicans were losing its evangelical base, a sharp note of electoral caution has popped up in that periodical. Jonathan Alter is now cautioning Newsweek readers that the Democrats might not do so well in the upcoming congressional elections after all as indicated in the very title of his October 30 article, There Might Not Be a Tidal Wave:
...for all the talk of increased intensity this year, voters are still preoccupied with their own busy lives, not politics. They don't watch much cable news or follow issues closely. If they bother to vote, they'll often do so based on small, serendipitous shards of information.
In other words, despite the obsession of the extreme leftwingers in getting rid of the Republicans, the average citizens have OTHER things on their minds...like getting on with their lives. Alter then goes on to "discover" an old political maxim---incumbents have the advantage:
In House races, lightly covered by the press, news is mostly generated by incumbents, who get to send out "franked" mailings to constituents that testify to their greatness at taxpayers' expense. And of course incumbents use their clout to gerrymander district maps so skillfully that two families living across the street from each other might be placed in different congressional districts—if such an arrangement helps protect those already in power.
Gee, no kidding, Jonathan. One doesn't even need to take a course in Politics 101 to realize the advantage of incumbency. However, Alter still isn't quite ready to concede that the Democrats might not win the seats necessary to control the House:
But while the odds now strongly favor the Democrats' taking the 15 seats necessary to win control of the House, caution is still advisable on a blowout.
After "reassuring" his readers that the Democrats would probably win enough seats for control of the House, Alter injects a note of Democrat fear towards the end of his article:
Karl Rove's eerie confidence about the midterms is a product of the Republicans' "72 Hour Program." Beginning in 2002, the GOP perfected a system where professionals supervise a highly elaborate micro-targeting of likely voters in the last three days of the campaign. My anecdotal sense is that across the country these operations are worth at least a couple of points against the traditional Democratic combination of labor and volunteers.
Jonathan Alter isn't the only one concerned by the perceived shift in Democrat fortunes in the upcoming elections. The polls, which now show the inevitable tightening up of the races, is causing widespread despair in the Leftwing blogosphere. The folks at the Democratic Undergound have already hit the panic button with hilarious results.