A Look Behind The Curtain

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The Washington Post has an article explaining some of the moves and counter moves that are made in the background of political campaigns. They make it sound bad for the Republicans and better for the Democrats, but put that completely aside for a moment and read some of the details of the planning and calculation that goes on behind the curtain.

Lapp and Forti make dozens of decisions like these every day, and the outcomes will only grow in importance during this final full week of the 2006 campaign. Betting right could well decide who controls the House after the Nov. 7 midterm elections, and by how many seats, according to strategists in both parties.

Forti and Lapp run the independent expenditure arms of their parties' campaign committees, the place where many of the negative ads that voters are seeing are financed, produced and strategically placed on television stations across the country. In the final days of the campaign, they will easily outspend the candidates themselves in many of the most competitive House races. They will decide the final images that many voters see in this campaign. Warning for the fainthearted: Most of the ads will be dark and accusatory.

One bad call could make or break a House race, officials in both parties said. There is no precise formula for determining the smartest choices. There are only polls, historical trends, anecdotal evidence and instinct, all of which can be flawed. Operatives in both parties described the process by which these decisions are made, in most cases on the condition that they not be quoted by name.

At the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where Lapp works, officials are more confident than ever that they will gain a minimum of 18 seats, three more than they need for a majority, and possibly more than 40 if they catch a bunch of breaks in the remaining nine days. Expectations have evolved from simply winning a majority to setting the stage for a blowout.

The committee recently commissioned polls in almost 20 "bubble districts" that once looked difficult to win but now appear within reach. These include the open seat in Nevada's 2nd District and the one held by Rep. Gil Gutkneckt (R-Minn.). Lapp's team has polls showing Democrats close in all the races.

Now, how much of the story can you take as factual when it comes to judging who is ahead in this game? Consider for a moment: the article tells you there are head games and bluffs going on all the time, almost on a hourly basis. Why would this article and the statements they got from anonymous sources be any different? You should read the whole thing to see some of the thought processes.

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