Among the advantages Republicans hold as they seek to control Congress, one thing is missing: surprise. Unlike in 1994, there will be no sneak attacks. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/us/politics/15town.html
In Sunday's NY Times article Jeff Zelleny looks at one of the big problems the Democrats have this fall and what they are doing about it - "In 1994, when Republicans swept control of Congress, it was not until a few weeks before the election — and in some cases on Election Day itself — that some veteran Democrats knew they were truly at risk."
Jeff Zelleny - "The House speaker, Thomas J. Foley, and Dan Glickman, a congressman from Kansas who led the Intelligence Committee, were among the Democrats who lost their seats because they did not detect the political trouble ahead. At Labor Day that year, Mr. Glickman said, his polling showed that he held a 30-point lead. A month later, he was in a steep decline."
Jeff Zelleny - “We did not anticipate the level of discontent out there until October,” Mr. Glickman recalled in an interview. “I was in parades all over my district, and I would see people campaigning for my opponent. I would say to my wife, ‘Who are these people?’ ”
Democrats seemed clueless in 1994 that they would be blamed for NAFTA since it was mostly the Republicans who had passed it. Under Reagan a large percentage of labor union membership had already abandoned Democrats, not realizing they were effectively ending the middle class dream for their children. By 1994 enough of the working class were ready to vote for the pie in the sky rhetoric of Republicans who had their "contract with America" offering to fulfill promises they felt Democrats were not. Every point of the Republican "contract" was either an outright lie or if it obligated the Republicans to observe ethics or term limits, it was forgotten before the ink was dry.
Jeff Zelleny - "This year, Democrats are all too aware of their detractors."
The Republicans are predicting another huge landslide this year based on the huge numbers of teabaggers that have turned out for rallies. The problem for Republicans is that hasn't really happened. The millions bussed into the Washington rally were really thousands and rallies that had been getting a thousand are now down to getting dozens. Having them all stand ten feet apart to try to make the crowd look bigger in photos was self defeating in the long run as it demoralized the people who did show up. It's hard to get a lynch mob worked up going if they're spread that thin.
Then there is the small matter of the Republicans offering nothing new. In 1994 it was all hypothetical, people who thought the American dream might be fading away were willing to buy into vague trickle down notions, imagining they were going to get one of those new high paying jobs the rich would create. Most people now grasp that the "wealth redistribution" the Republicans growl about really means from the middle class to rich Republicans.
Republicans were predicting huge victories in 2006 and 2008 and fell flat, largely from the turn out of the millennium generation voters who see clearly that the American dream is gone and are not swayed by the bigotry used to frighten their grand parents into voting Republican. Then there are the black and Hispanic voters that had always voted for the conservatives in the past or just did not vote who have realized they can and must turn elections.
Jeff Zelleny - "Many Democrats have raised more money so far this year than in the entire previous election cycle. They formed their campaign teams several months ahead of schedule and began running television advertisements earlier than ever. Realizing they could do little to improve the political climate, they are trying to fortify themselves with sharper tactics."
The only question is will the majority turn out to vote. Or will the average voter believe the the false choices of "they're all crooks, why vote?" or "nothing changes". Things can change, they can get much worse, unimaginably worse. The danger of Republican rule is no longer hypothetical.