Simply put, Democrats find themselves heading into a midterm election that looks as grisly as any the party has faced in decades. It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994.
The race-by-race outlook confirms the dire forecasts. Cook Political Report House Editor David Wasserman points out that at this point, 32 Democratic incumbents are running even or behind their Republican challengers in one or more public or private polls. At this point in 2006, when Republicans lost control of Congress, only 11 GOP incumbents were running even or behind.
Privately, some Democratic pollsters say that they are routinely seeing districts where Democratic incumbents are running only even with relatively unknown GOP challengers. In other districts where the Republican challengers are reasonably well known, the incumbents are often running 5-10 points behind, a rather extraordinary development at this point.
In the Senate, while the odds still favor Democrats holding on to a narrow majority, it is not only mathematically possible for the GOP to capture a majority this year, but it has become plausible. The odds of Democrats capturing even one currently Republican-held seat appear to be getting longer. Meanwhile, Republicans are running ahead or roughly even in 11 Democratic-held seats, one more than necessary for control of the Senate to flip. It’s still a tall order but not crazy to say that Republicans will win the Senate.
That’s Charlie Cook’s take – and you really need to read it all. I’m guessing here – and I apologize to Mr. Cook in advance if I am wrong here – but I suspect that Cook is seeing numbers unlike any he has seen before. I’ve seen Cook get more and more bullish on Republicans – and bearish on Democrats – as the weeks have passed. I fully expect that Cook has been seeing it for a while now, but has not been sure how to interpret these unprecedented numbers. These are numbers that are so bad, it defies all conventional wisdom.
I think this is going to be a horrendous election for Democrats. I think that the election will be one for the books – one that pundits will be pointing to for years. Decades. Possibly centuries.
Don’t think 1994, think 1876 at a little valley of the Little Bighorn River. That’s the model for this election.