Over the years I’ve observed the phenomenon of the sudden emergence of second thoughts as election day approaches. Races where the common wisdom has declared a candidate a sure winner when the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November is months away suddenly falls into the not-so-sure category as election day nears.
This is called hedging your bets, especially when the media has allowed the wish to become the father to the thought – in most cases when the wish is for liberal Democrats to win an election. Richard Nixon, who was no dunderhead when it came to election strategy, once said that the real campaign takes place in the three weeks before election day. Then, and only then, does the great mass of the voters begin to take notice. That great mass, incidentally constitutes what are known as the “swing voters” – folks who can go either one way or another, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Those are the ones who are the targets of all the last minute political rhetoric and the ones who decide who wins and who loses.
For the most part, in the times before elections the remainder of the electorate tend to remain what they are – Democrat or Republican – and will most probably follow their party absent any extraordinary developments that might tend to wean them away from their usual political allegiances.
As a result of all this, polls taken far in advance of an election are worse than useless; they are in fact deceptive. Now if you are a partisan liberal Democrat – which is what most members of the media are – it is comforting to allow the wish for a Democratic victory to become father to the thought. As election day nears, however, reality forces you to take a closer look and begin to rely on facts rather than hopes.
This is what we are seeing now. That much touted Democratic victory that would sweep Nancy Pelosi into the Speaker’s chair, and perhaps even make Harry Reid Majority leader of the Senate – once considered by the media savants as all but certain developments – now appears a lot less than certain – a lot less.
Forced to admit this the media fall back on the lame excuse that new developments have led voters to have second thoughts – that maybe they might not really want Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running things on Capitol Hill. They cite the president’s rising popularity ratings, the lower price of gasoline and the voters sudden realization that they are in fact safer from terrorism in the hands of Republicans than they would be under the likes of Nancy and Harry, Howard Dean and John Murtha. But the last is not new – most voters already believed that.
So a lot of specious gimmicks such as the so-called generic polls which allegedly indicate how voters will vote for either a generic Democrat or generic Republican are suddenly exposed for what they are – sheer poppycock. There has been no revision of the old truism that all politics are local and are seldom influenced by national issues.
All of the giddy media optimism that their cause will triumph on November 7 is suddenly muted. All but the worst diehards among them are now admitting that the outcome is now very much in doubt – that their cherished dream of a Democratic controlled Congress may be too much to ask – that a six seat pickup in the Senate is simply not within the realm of probability and a 15 seat pickup in the House is really more wishful thinking among them than the reality.
For months now the media has been telling us that Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Rick Santorum is an all but certain goner – that the his opponent, the utterly lackluster state Treasurer Bob Casey was so far ahead in the polls that his election would be a cake walk. Now were being told that Rick Santorum has somehow made a miraculous recovery and is now just about neck-and-neck with Casey. It’s not that they were wrong when they pronounced Santorum’s obituary months ago, they say, it’s just that he’s undergone a mysterious and inexplicable reanimation and may live on in the Senate for another six years.
I don’t like to make predictions – it’s a dangerous thing for any columnist to do – but I’m going to stick my neck out and state unequivocally that the GOP was never – got that? never – in any real danger of losing control of either the House and Senate. It was just made to be seen to be the case by the media.
Rick Santorum will win in Pennsylvania, Virginia Senator George Allen will trounce turncoat James Webb, and – surprise, Rep. John Murtha will go down to a much deserved defeat inPennsylvania. Sources inside Murtha’s campaign told officials of the Boot Murtha group of veterans that Murtha’s unfavorable ratings top 50 percent -making him more vulnerable than the media cares to admit. One official told me “If that’s true, we’d have to screw up to lose.” Boot Murtha is a campaign organized by Vets for the Truth to Redeploy John Murtha – a goal dear to the hearts of every United States Marine who cherishes the reputation of the world’s finest military unit that Murtha has dragged through the mud.
It has been reported that Nancy Pelosi is measuring the windows in the Speaker’s office for new drapes. She’d better not buy them – they’ll only end up in the closets of her Minority Leader’s office.