There are some signs of improving prospects for the Democrats in November. At least one poll now has then ahead in the generic ballot and the Real Clear Politics poll average has almost a dead heat. In this context Pennsylvania-12 takes on added significance. Republican Sean Trende has recently argued that:
I quite frankly have no idea what’s going to happen next Tuesday. Special election polling is notoriously unreliable, precisely because it is difficult to account for things like the Specter-Sestak primary driving downballot turnout. Because of this, a Democratic win doesn’t tell us much about November, but a Republican win might.
Perhaps but a Republican failure to win a district that voted for John McCain in 2008 would be a significant setback. Chris Cillizza:
For months, the conventional wisdom about the coming 2010 midterm elections has been that Republicans are not only poised to make major gains this fall but that they also have a realistic chance of taking the chamber back. That CW gets put to its first major test on Tuesday when businessman Tim Burns (R) faces off against former congressional aide Mark Critz (D) in the special election to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D). For Republicans, the race is simply a must-win…While there are arguments to be made about the large party registration edge Democrats carry in the 12th and the fact that the special will coincide with statewide primaries where Democrats have far more competitive races than Republicans, the fact is that this is just the sort of culturally conservative swing district that the GOP must prove it can win to take back the House this fall.
It is a culturally conservative area, where Republicans believe that the Democrat’s tepid endorsement of the repeal of the ban on gays in the military will cost him votes. The fact of advance spin about a Republican loss is beginning to be put forward by Republicans may indicate a shifting of the tide. Jonathon Chait notices a shift in conservative presentations of Obama:
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that a new conservative narrative, that of Obama as a “bully” (which I wrote abouttoday I also highlighted Fred Barnes’ column that attacks the President for refusing to compromise. This image of Obama as a strong figure refusing to cede any ground marks a big shift in the right-wing media (or in the very at least at The Weekly Standard). Until recently, the magazine had depicted Obama as weak, even pathetic.
The angry conservative responses to Obama’s recent complaints about the right’s extreme partisanship and low levels of civility indicates perhaps concern that this may be hurting the Republicans. Still the Democrats will be glad it is six months to November.