Democrats' August of Discontent

The last extended break at home for Congressional Democrats before Election Day is shaping up as unremarkable. Democrats had hoped to use the August "district work period" to get better traction on the 2010 campaign trail. Nope.

The trajectory of an overwhelming number of polls, national and local, is down for Democrats. For lack of any change, the prevailing political winds against Democrats seem to be strengthening.

Much has been said about the Republican's Gallup-record 10 point lead in the national generic congressional preference poll. But state by state is where it's at.

Republicans must pickup 39 house seats to win back the majority and even before the August break ends, more than 30 Democrats trail in the polls or have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings.

Democrats insist their majority is safe but their actions speak otherwise. They are openly playing defense by setting aside resources to defend 54 House seats, a 15 seat cushion against that magic number of 39 seats the GOP needs to reclaim control.

Traditionally Labor Day marks the beginning of the final sprint to Election Day. It also tends to bring a crush of polls across the country as campaigns take a final compass reading before the final push.

In the last few years a dramatic improvement in the accuracy of automated polls and an explosion of new polling companies has so increased the quantity of data, that the most subtle shifts in the national electorate's mood can be detected earlier than ever.

This August the mood has not changed, the momentum is growing for Republicans and there is nothing subtle about it.

The situation is likely to worsen when Democrats return to D.C. because of the legislative calendar. Congress has to pass the appropriation bills for next year - trillions of dollars in new spending. Democrats will almost certainly punt most of it till next year.

In addition Democrats can't decide whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts before they expire at the end of the year. If they let taxes go up, it could derail economic recovery. If they extend the cuts the deficit rises. No matter what Democrats do, their House majority is in big trouble.

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