August was a difficult month for Democrats, nearly more difficult than the same month last year when bombastic health care town hall meetings threatened to rip the reform effort apart at the seams, but this summer has seen more of a quiet implosion of Democrats' chances in the fall for retaining control of Congress, as poll after poll offers more good news for Republicans.
And September is kicking off no differently than August. On Thursday, respected nonpartisan analyst Larry Sabato added to the picture with an updated projection of a 47-seat upset in the House for Representatives, well above the 39 seats required to flip control to the GOP.
The University of Virginia professor told Fox News, "There's absolutely no doubt at this point it's a Republican year and very probably a very big Republican year," adding that "this is going to be very significant because, at least according to our projections, Republicans could essentially wipe out the gains that Democrats made in the House of Representatives in the 2006 and 2008 combined."
And that appears to be the lower end of Sabato's projections, in other words, the professor said, "That number could go up by November."
The professor's "Crystal Ball" publication, in which the analysis is published, also updated his long-standing 7-seat GOP pickup in the Senate, increasing the party's gain by two and even adding that there is an "outside shot" at a flip in control of that chamber, something most experts think is not possible this year. Sabato notes that in the six times since World War II that the House has flipped control, the Senate has, as well, "even when it had not been predicted to do so."
Interestingly, Sabato notes that a surprise could even come from West Virginia, a strongly red state who's two Senate seats have long been held by Democrats. Gov. Joe Manchin, the favored Democrat to win, is facing a well-funded Republican, and Sabato suggests that "if a GOP wave develops," even this state, with its very popular governor, could flip.
The Gallup organization revealed its latest generic poll this week showing historic gains for Republicans, a solid 10-point lead over the majority, with Independents, critical to Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008, breaking for the GOP by a whopping 17 points.
Adding to that grim picture, University of Buffalo Professor James Campbell predicted Tuesday that the Democrats in the House can expect to lose 51 seats this year.
"Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama's approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House," Campbell writes in his analysis entitled, "The Seats in Trouble Forecast of the 2010 Elections to the U.S. House."
A Real Clear Politics average of President Obama's approval ratings puts it at 47%, with 48% disapproving.
Democrats' fate is certainly tied most closely to the performance of the economy, and at this point, there appears to be no measure showing significant change, except for those economists who fear a second recession. This gloomy outlook is expected to be highlighted and underscored Friday by the latest jobless claims released by the Commerce Department which most experts are predicting to rise, with some saying the unemployment figure could even tick up from its current 9.5%.
Democrats enjoy a substantial financial advantage over their GOP counterparts, but for now, the inordinate amount of bad news, compounded, Sabato notes, by the immigration and New York mosque controversies, appears to be drowning out the prospects of that money being used to pull Democrats through to victory.
And though some experts repeatedly call this an "anti-establishment" year, pointing to the losses of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, and Sen. Bob Bennett, R-UT, as examples, among Democrats who have also been sent packing by voters, Sabato disagrees.
"This particular election year has been mischaracterized as an anti-incumbent year. In fact, it's becoming increasingly obvious that it's an anti-Democratic year," Sabato said, "There's a giant difference between anti-incumbent and anti-Democratic."
But certainly, anyone who has even a passing interest in politics knows that in the two months left before Americans head to the polls, anything can happen. For now, though, all signs point to a strong wind at Republicans' backs with their voters showing far more enthusiasm and willingness to turn out.