Where's the bump? Where's the bounce? Weren't Democrats supposed to be basking the sunshine of a successful endeavor (on the theory that a win is a win is a win)? Why are Republicans seeming to out-organize Democrats at town hall meetings so far (check out coverage of Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's interaction with voters)? Democrats expecting to wake up next to Suzanne Pleshette, having had Japanese food the night before, feeling relief that the nightmare is over -- these Democrats are getting ahead of themselves.
Health care reform took a year to ferment, and the process produced an odor that still lingers over the party, as evidence by the fact that voters, six out of ten of them, found it offensive. (My familiar refrain: the reform bill was not popular; the elements of the bill and the idea of the bill are.)
Remember, too, that the elections we're forecasting are midterms, where seniors vote in high proportions. Seniors tend to be immune to the President's charm these days, and they're still very nervous about health care, thanks to the Republican PR campaign against it. Maybe when seniors get that $250 check from the government, a rebate for prescription drug coverage, will they begin to soften their opposition.
Final point: Democrats are more enthusiastic
about voting in the midterms, even though the generic ballot remains tilted in the direction of Republicans. (Among registered voters, a tie goes to the GOP for a variety of reasons, and predicts heavy losses for Democrats.) Enthusiasm rates among Republicans jumped by a corresponding amount, which makes sense: Republican base voters are really motivated -- and still more motivated than Democrats.
Republicans don't have anything resembling a positive agenda (and Obama keeps stealing their ideas, like small business tax cuts, domestic offshore oil drilling and nuclear power expansion) and their political strategy is in disarray. That doesn't mean for a moment that Democrats are out of the woods, or that Democrats should expect more than this environment can give.
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is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.