Crazy Cajun James Carville knows a little something about getting his boss out of a heap o' trouble at the polls. The Great Bald One offers a positive prognosis for Barack Obama and the Democrats, saying this year's climate looks less like the Armageddon of 1994 and more like the disaster that wasn't in 1998:
"In the 1998 election, we conducted national polls starting in September to see if Democrats could push back against the Republican overreach on Ken Starr and impeachment, as Democrats faced the prospect of historic losses in both the House and Senate. Only two weeks before the election did the plates shift and a Democratic counter-message on impeachment became effective in our polls. In the end, Democrats lost no net seats in Senate, gained five House seats and Newt Gingrich resigned."The key word here is "overreach."
In 1998, the Republican overreach was impeachment. This year, it's Teh Tea Party Krazy. Ultra-extreme purism in the Republican primary process has directly knocked out two GOP Senators (Bennett and Muirkowski - oops, spelled it wrong, THAT won't help a write-in campaign), indirectly knocked off a third (pushing Arlen Specter into a Democratic primary he couldn't win either), led a sitting Republican governor into an independent Senate bid, flushed away a sure thing win in Delaware, and made Kentucky competitive.
(Wonder how things might have been if Iowa's primary were in September instead of June, and if Bill Salier or Kent Sorensen had gone after Chuck Grassley for not being pure enough?)
Even when the overreach isn't direct, it's a motivator - for the other side :
Democrats break 66-15 against the Tea Party, and half say Tea Party support makes them less likely to vote for a candidate. So a Tea Party endorsement would motivate Dems to vote against a candidate slightly more than it prompts Republicans or independents to vote for one. And only 19 percent of independents said a Tea Party affiliation made them more likely to vote for a candidate.
Obama has his own Carville in David Axelrod and his own Stephanopolous in David Plouffe, and Plouffe has played the expectation card: "Plouffe said Thursday that the Republicans should be expected to make a full sweep of Congress - and key gubernatorial races - given the environmental advantages they have. Anything less, he said, should be seen as a disgrace..."