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links for 2010-10-03

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Great Expectations

Republican campaign poster from 1896 attacking...

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There is an air of invincibility among the GOP faithful, and it’s not entirely displaced. Polls have the GOP picking up around 47 seats in the house and winning 7 or 8 seats in the Senate. The GOP will pickup at least 10 Governorships to the Dems‘ 3 and there are still 8 tossups. It looks as if nothing could be better for the Republicans.

But I think there is good reason to temper expectations.

The primary reason is that, no matter what the national trends are, there is still a real person in each district that a Republican has to beat. This person has already won at least one election in their district. If it is the typical Democrat in a swing district who beat a GOP incumbent in either 2006 or 2008, they are fairly conservative, a military veteran, pro-gun, socially conservative, voted against Obamacare, and has otherwise separated himself/herself from the Obama admin. They are probably sitting on a lot of cash and are prepared to make their election about personalities rather than allow it to be a referendum on Obama.

Don’t misunderstand, 2010 will still be a Republican year. But I don’t think it will be the slam dunk everyone thinks. Here are some other reasons I think the Dems will be tough to dislodge this year:

The “Enthusiasm Gap” will disappear. Yes, it is true that your average Democrat is not as likely to vote this year as your average Republican. However, I’ve already seen polls in Minnesota showing this trend has disappeared, and I would wager it is true nationwide. As November approaches, interest will pickup and regular voters will find their way to the polls.

– Registered Voters still prefer the Dems in generic ballot polls. It is important to look at polls for both Registered Voters (RV) and Likely Voters (LV)/ LV prefer the GOP but RV still prefer the Dems. If the voter turnout doesn’t go the way we all expect, these minor differences will result in several lost congressional seats.

The GOP doesn’t have the GOTV infrastructure the Dems do. 2006 and 2008 weren’t accidents. An unpopular foreign war and a tanking economy were the primary causes of the Dem takeover of government, but new GOTV tools favor the Dems. Socialnetworking and online media were really perfected by the Dems in 06/08 and the GOP hasn’t caught up. Not to mention the unions’ ability to get people to the polls. This is an area the GOP needs to invest in, and I’m not seeing it (but I am on the outside, so I don’t know for sure).

Bad GOP Candidates. Yeah. O’Donnell in Delaware, Angle in Nevada, Emmer in Minnesota, Palladino in New York. Because of the teaparty crowd there is a strict ideological expectation that will take a toll on the results for the GOP in November. Races that should be tossups are going to the Dems; races that should be GOP pickups are tossups. The relentless pursuit of ideology will cost the GOP at least two senate seats.

 I could be wrong.