The Democrats are growing desperate. Over the long Labor Day weekend both the New York Times and the Associated Press reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to jettison the weak sisters from the party’s fall campaign plans.
Pelosi, the Times reported, issued “an urgent plea” to Democrats sitting in what are considered safe congressional districts to start kicking in some of their cash on hand to help their endangered brethren. "We need to know your commitment," Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter “demanding,” the Times said, “that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help.”
It’s a safe bet her phone didn’t ring too much--not because no one wants to help but because there just aren’t that many Democrats left who see themselves, up through the midterm election anyway, as safe. And it’s not like they can turn to President Barack Obama, whose national approval rating is currently around 40 percent, to bail them out.
Consider the latest polls. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has the Republicans leading 53 percent to 40 percent on the generic ballot test, the largest lead either party has produced since 1981. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has the GOP up 49 percent to 40 percent among registered voters. Pollster Scott Rasmussen's latest national telephone survey has 48 percent of likely voters siding with the GOP in the upcoming congressional election versus just 36 percent who are opting to stick with the Democrats.
Having held all the keys to the kingdom for two years--a left-liberal president in the White House and majorities in the House and Senate that were both comfortably left-liberal on ideological grounds and GOP-proof on the math--Obama, Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have failed to achieve anything close to what their friends and allies hoped they would . Some of them, in fact, have been reduced to uttering half-truths about ancillary issues in an effort to motivate their base.
In one recent E-mail the group MoveOn.org--once thought to be the powerhouse in U.S. elections--was poor-mouthing, explaining they needed to “decide today whether we'll have enough resources for a major campaign” to keep the Congress in Democratic hands.
Fully-funded, the campaign would be active in 30 to 60 liberals’ only seats. From power at the top to bottomless pit in just two years, MoveOn.org is trying to rally its base through fear, particularly fear of a $400 million campaign on the part of “corporate front groups” to help the GOP. The source for the $400 million figure? Think Progress, another left-liberal group that doesn’t mind the influence of money in politics as long as it supports what they are trying to do.
It is true, as some of my bloleagues have recently pointed out, that in U.S. elections you have to vote for a person rather than a party, but the latest polling numbers are still, in a word, earthshaking--and for two reasons.
First, the GOP has out-performed the Democrats on the generic ballot question more or less consistently for many months and through the summer. That’s never happened when the GOP has been the congressional minority party. Even in late October 1994--just before the landmark election that produced the first GOP majority in the House in 40 years, a majority-GOP U.S. Senate, a record number of gubernatorial and state legislative victories, and an election in which just seven GOP incumbents seeking re-election at any of these levels were defeated--the Democrats still led on the generic ballot question.
Second, support for the GOP is hovering around 50 percent--and may break it before the election rolls around. With numbers like these there are a lot of Democrats who are going to wake up on November 3, 2010, wondering what the heck happened and where the truck went that ran them over the previous evening.