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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And They're Off

Labor Day is typically the traditional kick-off to the general election campaign and this year is no exception. Article after article over the weekend focused on the 2010 Congressional election and the prospects that Democrats may be on the way to losing their majority in at least the House of Representatives.

This article from the NY Times drew a lot of attention as many took from it the message that the Democrats were ready to throw their most vulnerable members under the bus in order to move resources to races that can still be won in the hope of holding on to at least a one seat majority. One of those suggested to be on the list to roll under that bus is 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello. Polls have recently shown Perriello trialing State Senator Robert Hurt by as much as 30 points. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) quickly rushed out a release to counter the Times article.

"The Members of Congress referenced in the article are all running strong campaigns focused on their solid records and drawing sharp distinctions between themselves and their opponents on the key issues at stake in this election. The DCCC is heavily invested in these campaigns. In each campaign mentioned, the DCCC has provided and continues to provide support for field operations and other key campaign activities."
Much of what has set up the current environment is the souring economy (the Summer of Recovery that never happened), thus leading to a significant downturn in the President's approval ratings. According to CQ Politics' Stuart Rothenberg, the Democrats hope to try and turn attention away from Obama and the national economy to the more traditional localization of congressional races.

The Democratic strategy for minimizing losses remains twofold. First, make the midterm elections a choice between the two parties rather than a referendum on Obama, and second, demonize Republican challengers, thereby making them unacceptable to voters.
While the models that suggest Democrats are on the verge of losing big in November are generic unnamed R vs. D match-ups, Rothenberg says that his individual race analysis does not yet show the Republican wave that the generic polls currently indicate. But it is clear that panic is in the air among Democrats. Look for races to turn nasty in districts like Virginia's 2nd, 5th, and 9th districts as incumbent Democrat representatives fight off aggressive challenges.

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