Media Continues To Exaggerate Problems For Democrats

Predicting an election months ahead is risky, but the pundits will certainly keep trying. As I also noted on Tuesday, the media also likes to make matters look worse for the Democrats than they actually are. There are more examples, such as The Note claiming that Democrats Are Dropping Like Flies.

This year is likely to be a bad year for many incumbents of either party, but the media is paying more attention to Democrats who are dropping out than Republicans. Steven Benen notes that fourteen Republicans and ten Democrats are not seeking reelection to the House. Six Republicans and two Democrats are not seeking reelection to the Senate. Three Democrats beyond those prevented by term limits are not running while four current Republicans (and five if we count Sarah Palin) are not seeking reelection.

While often harmful to a party’s chances, sometimes it even helps if the incumbent does not run. Byron Dorgan’s retirement will make it very difficult for the Democrats to hold on to the North Dakota Senate seat. On the other hand, Chris Dodd dropping out makes it very likely the Democrats will hold onto his seat, with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leading all Republican candidates by at least thirty seats.

The effects are more difficult to call in Colorado where Bill Ritter has decided against running for reelection as Governor. Ritter has divided the Democratic Party in the state and the party’s chances might be better without him running. Among those considering running is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The Denver Post reports that the White House is fine with the idea of him leaving if he chooses to run.

The anti-incumbency mood has also led Michigan Lieutenant Governor  John Cherry to drop out of the race to replace Jennifer Granholm. A member of the Granholm administration would have a tough time getting elected. Granholm inherited a weak economy in Michigan when she became governor, and national economic conditions have limited the possibilities for a recovery. It might be tough for any Democrat to win this race, but turning to an outsider as opposed to the sitting Lieutenant Governor should increase the chances.

Political conditions can be very different by November. Unexpected events such as 9/11 and Katrina resulted in rapid changes in how the parties were viewed. Democrats might be at their lowest point now while engaged in a difficult fight over a controversial health care reform measure. It is unlikely they will take up such controversial matters this year.

Republicans do benefit from being the party out of power, especially considering the historical trend for such parties to do well in off-year elections. Republicans, however, might have a problem due to cash problems after spending so much money in 2009. The tea baggers have made a lot of noise (further amplified by the right wing media) but they are not contributing much money to either political party.

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