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Morning Jay: Dem Triage, White House Partisanship, and more...

6:30 AM, Sep 6, 2010 • By JAY COST
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Happy Labor Day!  Easily the most ironic holiday on the American calendar, today is the day we all celebrate work by ... taking off work!  

1. Democratic Triage?  The New York Times reviews the Democratic strategy to hold the House: 

As Democrats brace for a November wave that threatens their control of the House, party leaders are preparing a brutal triage of their own members in hopes of saving enough seats to keep a slim grip on the majority.

In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers...

With the midterm campaign entering its final two months, Democrats acknowledged that several races could quickly move out of their reach, including re-election bids by Reps. Betsy Markey of Colorado, Tom Perriello of Virginia, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio and Frank Kratovil Jr. of Maryland, whose districts were among the 55 Democrats won from Republicans in the last two election cycles.

Yikes.  This kind of "incumbent party makes hard choices" story is inevitable in a year like this, but it is really something to see it come out in early September.  Sizeable numbers of incumbent Democrats lack a "path to victory," even this far out?

Note the mention of Mary Jo Kilroy.  She's the representative from OH-15 (Columbus), which in past cycles has been rightly touted as the quintessential swing district.  As goes Columbus, so goes the nation.  

And if Columbus is gone in September...

Lest we think that the New York Times is too bearish on Dem prospects, the AP also reports that Democratic insiders are writing off not only Kilroy, but Steve Driehaus of OH-1 (Cincinnati) and John Boccieri of OH-16 (Canton).  Though Obama won OH-1 by 11 points and OH-15 by 9 points, and split historically Republican OH-16, these three Dems are "all but certain to lose," according to the AP's Democratic sources.  Dems are also worried about Betty Sutton of OH-13 (Akron), Zack Space of OH-18 (Chillicothe) and Charlie Wilson of OH-6 (Marietta).  

For those of you keeping count, Dem strategists think 6 of Ohio's 10 House Democrats are in danger.  The only safe Democrats are from districts centered in the party strongholds of the industrial northern tier - Toledo, Cleveland, and Youngstown, i.e. the Dukakis coalition

That recent PPP poll showing Ohio voters preferring Bush to Obama by 8 points is starting to make a lot of sense.  

2. A Divider, Not A Uniter. At the APSA meeting in Washington, D.C., scholars debated how and why President Obama has become such a polarizer.  I wonder if comments like this from David Plouffe were mentioned as a cause:

"Right now — and this is a problem for them — I do think Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, they are the leaders of the party," Plouffe said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There is an intolerance in that party and an extremism that I think is where the real energy is, and so I think you'll see in '11 and '12 with that presidential primary, those are going to be the people who come out to vote."

Jabs like this come from top presidential advisors with great regularity, sometimes even from the president himself, and they started very early in the president's term.  The White House set up the "Party of No" meme in the first quarter of 2009 as an attempt to de-legitimize policy disagreements from conservatives.  The implication is always the same: while a handful of the president's opponents have legitimate differences of opinion, the bulk of them are either hacks or radicals.  

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