Dems optimistic, but guarded | Arkansas Blog

Dems optimistic, but guarded

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The New York Times writes about Democrats anticipating positive outcomes in the November elections. It's due more to multiplying Republican problems than to anything the Democrats are doing. For that reason, the Democrats are worried that the Republicans could still turn their fortunes around in the next couple of weeks.

For Democrats these days, life is one measure glee, one measure dread and one measure hubris. If they are as confident as they have been in a decade about regaining at least one house of Congress — and they are — it is a confidence tempered by the searing memories of being outmaneuvered, for three elections straight, by superior Republican organizing and financial strength, and by continued wariness about the political skills of President Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove.

Mr. Rove has made it clear that he considers Democratic optimism unjustified, predicting that his party’s cash advantage and get-out-the-vote expertise will dash Democratic dreams yet again. And Democrats say they welcome every passing dawn with relief, fearful that the next one will bring a development that could fundamentally alter the nature of the race, like the re-emergence of Osama bin Laden on election eve, which is what happened in 2004. ...

Still, Democratic ebullience could be found in all corners of Washington over the past few days. It was palpable at social and work gatherings, where Democrats traded gossip about how big a Democratic majority in the House could be; in Capitol Hill conference rooms, where Democrats were preparing transition plans (under orders to keep them quiet); and in offices of Democratic strategists and pollsters, who were drawing up growing lists of Republicans who might be vulnerable.

“I feel better than I ever have,” said Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a Democrat from upstate New York. “I think we have the best chance to take over simply because of the pileup of disasters.”

Stanley B. Greenberg, who was the White House pollster for President Bill Clinton in 1994 when Republicans shocked Democrats by capturing the House, commissioned a poll recently and e-mailed it around town with a single-word headline: “Meltdown.” In an interview, Mr. Greenberg said, “I don’t see how we can lose the House; I don’t think it’s even close.” ...

Democratic candidates in districts that had been considered long shots are now pleading with Mr. Emanuel’s committee to send money their way. And some leading Democrats, among them Mr. Greenberg, are urging Mr. Emanuel to seize the moment by expanding the field in which Democrats are competing, saying the party has a chance to cement a big lead in the House in November.

This argument has worried some Democratic strategists, who warn that an excess of exuberance could press party leaders into making decisions that may siphon resources from closely fought races and risk the Democrats’ advantage. “On the House side, it makes sense to be focusing on 25 seats to win 14, not 50,” said Steve Rosenthal, a political and labor consultant with close ties to the party, who described many Democrats as “overenthused.”

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