Congressional Democrats have a 39 seat majority in the House, and polls suggest they should be very worried. But the top lawmaker in charge of defending Democratic seats says the surveys are all wrong.
“Reports of the House Democrats’ demise are greatly exaggerated,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md) said at a Washington press conference Friday. “It all depends on turnout projections, and I think they have been miscalculating Democratic turnout.”
For most of the year, slightly more voters have preferred a Republican for Congress than a Democrat, according to a Gallup generic poll released earlier this month.
But this year, independents are expected to be the decisive voting block, and Gallup has consistently shown they have a strong double digit preference for GOP candidates over Democrats.
The Democratic National Committee and its House and Senate subcommittees have been girding for tough midterms all year. Democrats have raised and spent more than Republicans, and have pre-committed resources and ground troops to defend their 54 most vulnerable seats. With primaries winding down, Democrats are now ramping up their attacks on the GOP as too extreme, based on its new crop of Tea Party-backed candidates.
“The Republican candidates emerging from primaries across the country are on the far right of the spectrum, in many cases being driven by the Tea Party movement,” says Van Hollen. “In many cases, being the nominee of the Tea Party movement. And they are not a good fit for our moderate, centrist districts.”
Amplifying that charge in a coordinated launch, the DNC posted a web video spotlighting some better-known Tea Party candidates and their positions. It ends with US Senate candidate Joe Miller of Alaska saying, “We’ve got to transition out of the social security arrangement, and go into more of a privatization. That’s not that radical of an idea.” A derisive warning then flashes onto the screen: “The Republican Tea Party 2010. Imagine, these people could represent YOU.”
On the Republican side, the RNC has established 306 offices nationwide, and has made a record-breaking seven million person-to-person phone calls to identify GOP households.
With the final sprint looming, independent groups are starting to ante up on the right, too. American Crossroads, one of five specific independent groups created by GOP big-shots Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Norm Coleman, is starting a ten million dollar GOTV program in eight key states with tight Senate races: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Washington. Six of those hold vulnerable Democratic seats, and New Hampshire and Florida are up for grabs with incumbent Republicans retiring.
April Girouard contributed to this report. For more Days to Decide coverage, click here.