Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dems: Don't count your chickens before they hatch...

I have long believed that projections of Democrats taking back control of congress are shortsighted and ovely optimistic. I'd even be willing to bet someone a beer that they won't even take back control of the House. If I am wrong, I'll publicly humiliate myself. But I ate a lot of steak dinners after the 2004 election, bought for me by blind-faith optimist Democrats who thought that Bush sucking was reason enough that Kerry would win.

Others will have their own explanation for the Democrats' ultimate failure. In my opinion, it's because they are INCAPABLE of having a distinct and different message, apart from empty negativity, because they are beholden to the same corrupt interests as Republicans. I would also not rule out the by-now usual litany of voting irregularities (which, because they are as corrupt as Republicans, the Democrats are unable or unwilling to address).

This post from The Hotline feeds my suspicion that a lot of you are going to be surprised, disappointed, and embarassed on election night:

Why The White House Has To Be Optimistic

"Perhaps the biggest danger to Republicans in the wake of all these bad polls is that their volunteer base, so critical to victory in 2004, won't put their heart in their work. If volunteers become convinced that Republicans will lose control of Congress, what incentive do they have to work hard?

"If you're ever read a profile of Ken Mehlman, you know he is obsessed with metrics. For him, one of the most important sources of data is a weekly e-mail his political team prepares called the "Weekly Grassroots Report." It meticulously records the work of tens of thousands of volunteers in targeted states, counties and congressional districts across the country. The data summary allows the RNC to determine which states are meeting goals and which states are falling behind.

"The RNC declined to share the most recent report, which was issued Monday. But two independent sources who saw last week's report professed to be surprised: not only was their [sic] no drop off last week, 12 states broke new voter contact records.

"In a month, the party completed more than a million phone calls and door contacts conbined. Bigger states are putting up big numbers -- even Ohio, which lagged behind its targets all summer, has caught up. The RNC is particularly pleased with their progress in New Jersey, where they've rapidly set up a more aggressive version of their 72 Hour Program in light of the state's more competitive Senate race.

"These are the numbers that motivate Karl Rove's optimism. The spreadsheets show that Republican volunteers are working hard. There are plenty of volunteers and they seem plenty willing to knock on doors and make telephone calls. That's why it makes sense for Rove, for White House pol. dir Sara Taylor, and for Mehlman to exude uncanny optimism even while their brains pour over pessimistic polls. Right now, a strong volunteer corps on election day working to turn out voters is the only hope they've got. If the volunteers detect a shred of defeatist cross-talk or come across a newspaper article suggesting that Rove is panicked, then they'll start to panic, too.

"The point is that top-level Republican optimism is pragmatic, not ignorant. [MARC AMBINDER]"


Anonymous said...

If you don't mind my asking...

Why do you feel that projections showing Democratic leads are "shortsighted and overly optomistic?" Do you think that polling is biased? Or do you think that it's likely things will change in the coming week and a half? Whatever the case, please do explain why you feel this way.

I'm not seeking an argument here; I'm merely curious about your reasoning.

matt said...

No offense taken; thanks for asking the question. I think the projections of Democratic victory are premature and overly optimistic for the following reasons:

1. The Republicans are second-to-none in campaign miracles in the last week, even the last 72 hours, of a campaign.

2. The last presidential election demonstrated that polls are next-to-meaningless; either because of election irregularities and cheating, or simply because they don't accurately capture people's voting intentions.


Anonymous said...

Add to Matt's reasons the fact that Democrats have been doing a poorer job of getting out the vote and Republicans (largely through the genius of the Rove machine) have been doing better than ever.

One remarkable turn of events on the turnout front is the revelation (in a recent NYT article) that the Democrats have become victims of their own success in their propaganda about voting irregularities. They have persuaded a significant number of their base that they'll be intimidated or prevented from voting, that their votes won't be counted, that the Republicans will somehow steal the election, with the upshot being defeatist apathy among many Democrats.

Things are still looking good for the Democrats, but retaking the House (let alone the Senate) is far from a foregone conclusion. (I'm hoping they'll take both, though. Not out of love for their message--whatever that may be--but because, after several years of Republican control of both houses and the Presidency, I long for gridlock.)