Lot of doom-saying out there about election year 2010. I don't use the word "doom-saying" to mock the predictions--it probably will be bad year--as much as to mock the notion that we shouldn't have seen this coming. For my money, Ezra got it right a few months back:
Off-year elections don't favor the minority because the majority forgets to speak clearly. But part of the danger with emphasizing the primacy of campaign strategy and message is that it favors an overly political view of how legislators should think of their seats. The point of the Democratic majority in the next few years is not to enable the campaign strategies that will sustain a Democratic majority. It's to pass legislation, knowing full well that Democrats will lose their majority, and probably sooner than they would like.
That's the nature of politics: The moment your offense succeeds, you are, by definition, left playing defense, as you have more seats to defend than they do. But that means you're never, or at least rarely, playing offense when you can actually score.
I think this is about a difference in goals. If you work for the DNC or RNC, or if you cover politics for the media, elections are the end. The conversation of policy isn't even really about policy, so much as it's about how policy will effect the next election. But for others of us, policy is the end. Winning elections is nice, but you don't elect candidates so that they can stand in front the capitol and look pretty, anymore than you send soldiers to the field for a photo-op. They're there to do a job. And sometimes the job costs.