Tuesday was the official first day of the political season, with Labor Day finally behind us, and I woke up to this screaming headline in Politico's Playbook: "New wave of polls points to Nov. blowout - Stu Rothenberg moves 20 House races toward GOP." Cable TV was dominated by similar apocalyptic reports from the future, mainly based on two new polls with bad news for Democrats.
The Wall St. Journal/NBC News poll found that Republicans have a 9 point advantage in generic national ballot preferences; the Washington Post/ABC poll found the GOP held a 13 point lead. (It's worth noting, however, that Gallup's weekly tracking poll, which found a 10 point GOP lead last week, has the parties tied today; go figure.) There was other disturbing news in the two media polls, most notably that voters have gotten less confident in the Democrats' ability to fix the economy and now trust Republicans more on that front.
That's terrible news. It's also a sign that maybe voters aren't paying attention yet. What have the Republicans offered to prove they would deal with the flagging economy any better since they wrecked it under George W. Bush? Disgraced former House GOP leader Tom Delay promised his party would "repeal" everything the Democrats have done. That's inspiring! Can't you just imagine John Boehner inviting Lily Ledbetter to an unsigning ceremony, when they undo the equal pay law that bears her name? I'm getting a little teary. Or a big Senate ritual where Mitch McConnell brings 20-something jobseekers who are, for now, safely on their parents' health insurance plans, to ceremonially strip them of their protection. There are so many heart-warming possibilities. The partying on Wall Street that would greet a GOP win requires no imaginative satire; that would actually happen.
I don't want to sugarcoat the Democrats' obstacles from here to November. It doesn't look great. But there's an MSM groupthink going on where for now, there's a rush to be the one to declare the Dems are in the WORST trouble. Soon, someone will decide to get attention by going counterintuitive, and suggest things aren't so bad for the Dems. Then, finally, we'll have the actual election and know what happened.
I think smart Democrats who back job-creation plans and articulate what their party stands for will do better than we expect; and it's also a time when going negative is both fair and crucial for Democrats. Republicans want to extend tax cuts for the rich and tax breaks for corporations that offshore jobs, and liberate Wall Street to create the same toxic products that make bankers rich and the country poor. As voters focus on the GOP alternative, if the Democrats are doing their job, all these races are going to become more competitive. It's going to be an interesting couple of months.
I talked about all of this on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" today.