The Myth of the Unpopular Democrats


The Don Surber post that Nick links is a little bit off. Yes, Americans hate Congress. No, they don't hate the Democrats. Not yet. When pollsters ask "whether your representative deserves to be re-elected," only 41 percent of people say "yes." But when they ask if you'd vote for the Democrat or the Republican for Congress, the Democrats lead by 12 points. That's lower than their advantage in 2006, but it's still an advantage. And which party's more confident about 2008 right now? Data points:

– Democrats are dramatically out-fundraising Republicans in the presidential race, in the race for the House, and in the race for the Senate. Republicans only have an edge in the RNC-DNC cash race, and that's because of Howard Dean's habit of lighting cigars with $100,000 bills. (That's the best explanation I can think of, anyway.)

– With a couple of exceptions—Oregon's Senate race, Illinois' 8th district—Democrats are out-recruiting Republicans. They've got new challengers in the races they narrowly lost in 2006, they're trying to put more seats on the table, and many of their gains from the last election—basically everything in New England—are locked in. Republicans don't have any candidates for their most promising Senate races in Louisiana and in South Dakota, where the incumbents are hobbled by, respectively 1)an exodus of black Democratic voters and 2)a cerebral hemorrhage. I repeat: Republicans can't recruit a candidate to face a bedridden brain surgery patient.

– There's this country called "Iraq" and we're still fighting a losing war in it. Yes, maybe Gen. Petraeus will pull it out. If he doesn't, quick: Name a party that gained seats after its president lost a war.

Surber's rant about Democrats "spinning their wheels trying to 'get' George Bush" and thereby inviting disaster doesn't hold up under the lightest scrutiny. Americans hate their government but they blame Bush and the Republicans for it. It isn't fair, but what ever is?

I actually wrote a piece for the American Prospect back in 2005 about similar metrics. It seemed like Karl Rove had lost his ability to recruit candidates and that this augered poorly for Republican chances in 2006. And sure enough…