I’ve been mulling for a while whether to post about this. But for all the conventional wisdom (very well-grounded conventional wisdom, I might add) that says Democrats are going to get crushed in November, the last month or so of polls have shown a number of hints of a turnaround. Again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. And I’d call them just hints at this point. But they’re there.
One of the striking inflection points of this cycle happened over a few weeks in November and December of last year. In numerous races across the country where Democrats had been either tied with Republicans or holding significant leads, Republican candidates suddenly surged ahead. It was daunting for Dems not only because their candidates were falling behind but because the inflection point came in unison in a number of different races in different parts of the country, many of which had internal dynamics more or less unique to themselves. (John Judis had an excellent piece noting this in The New Republic but unfortunately I can’t find the link. — Late Update: Here it is.) That signaled a clear nationalization of the 2010 election cycle, which is something you do not want to see when the tide is running against you.
Yet, over the last month or so, a number of those races have shown signs of possibly trending back in the other direction. Ones I’m thinking of include the senate races in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and possibly even Arkansas and Colorado, where a new poll is about to be released. In most of these cases it’s just the one or two most recent polls. And sometimes they’re polls from pollsters that had not polled the same race recently enough to provide a good apples to apples comparison. But you can see something similar in the very mild rebound of Dem numbers in the national congressional generic ballot and the fairly substantial rebound in support for Health Care Reform.
In a sense this shouldn’t be surprising. Dems had the tough November elections followed by seven straight weeks of demoralizing and ugly wrangling over health care. Then that was followed by the stunning upset in Massachusetts which, accompanied by the resultant Dem face-plant on Health Care managed to send conservatives through the roof and profoundly demoralize Democrats. So it’s not surprising that with a little time for things to cool down and some somewhat better news on Health Care Reform that Dem numbers would at least bounce back a touch.
Still, I think it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if this becomes a trend. Because we’re still in a highly volatile political period. And I don’t think it’s clear yet that how things look today is how they’re going to look in the fall.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.