Multiple polls are now showing that the GOP is getting a substantial last-minute push. Gallup, ABC, and Pew all have the Democratic advantage on the generic ballot question down to the single digits. Furthermore, Ed Morrissey has delved into the internals of the Pew poll and found that the GOP is regaining their strength in core demographic areas. The Democrats are once again failing to do much more than preach to the choir.
Part of it is certainly due to John Kerry’s idiotic comments bringing many fence-sitting GOP voters back into the fold. There’s nothing that is more effective than reminding GOP-allied voters exactly why they don’t like the Democrats. Given the choice between going with a flawed Republican Party and a Democratic Party led by such “notables” as John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi, Republican voters aren’t going to cut off their noses to spite their face.
I’d also argue that many of the moderates who have been looking at the Democrats as a viable alternative are facing the same question: can the Democrats be trusted to do any better? The reason why 1994 was such a blowout was because the Republicans had made themselves a viable alternative. It’s one thing to be mad at the status quo. It’s another thing to be able to focus that anger into constructive political activity. The Democrats’ core problem is that they are running based on their anger rather than the voter’s anger. The average voter is disappointed with Bush, but the idea that merely tying a candidate to the President is enough to defeat them is not workable. For one, 40% of the electorate approves of the President. If at least 10% don’t care, then the attack is pointless. Local elections are still largely defined by local and not national issues, so the entire thrust of the Democrats’ campaign is going in an entirely irrelevant direction.
The GOP is gaining back ground that it lost. The big question is whether those gains will be sufficient to stem the bleeding. As far as the House is concerned, it seems unlikely. The Democrats are set to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 seats. The Republicans aren’t hopeless, but it’s going to be difficult to defend that much territory. The Senate seems more likely to stay in Republican hands, but a 50-50 split isn’t unlikely either. There’s no doubt that the GOP is going to lose Senate seats, it’s just a question of how many.
The Democrats are once again doing all that they can to seize defeat from the jaws of victory, after weeks of Republican missteps. Still, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be perilously close, which is why turnout is going to be critical tomorrow. If GOP voters are more motivated than they were, that means that the Democrats may have to content themselves with no more than the typical midterm gains rather than the blowout that their partisans were hoping to have.