News for House Dems: ‘Worse, worser, and worst’

The news this morning for Democrats? To take a page from Keith Olbermann’s book, it’s “Worse, Worser and Worst.”

WORSE: Kristi Noem, the Republican challenger Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., raised $1 million in the quarter that just ended. Not only does this mean that Republicans might have a new Sarah Palin who isn’t a knucklehead, but it also means they’ll probably outspend Herseth-Sandlin until Election Day.

WORSER: The Hill has released polls of ten open House districts (One of them isn’t actually “open,” but it was just recently filled in a special election). A few takeaways:

  • Democrats are getting killed in AR-1, the district of retiring Rep. Marion Berry, D.
  • Despite heavy spending by the DCCC, they appear doomed in WI-7, retiring Democratic Rep. David Obey’s Wisconsin as well. Republican Sean Duffy leads by 9 points.
  • They are getting killed in Davy Crockett’s old district, TN-8 (open, Tanner).
  • Democrats are doing much better in IL-10, Mark Kirk’s district, than anyone seems to think. On the other hand, they look set to lose in HI-1, one of their expected pickups, as Rep. Charles Djou, R, has posted a surprising four-point lead and both candidates have plenty of name recognition.
  • Democrats hold a slim 42-39 lead, with lots of undecideds, in WV-1, where Democrat Mike Oliverio and Republican David McKinley are fighting over who is more conservative. It’s a dogfight, but here’s one ominous cross-tab: Independent voters are breaking for the Republican, three to one.
  • Republicans lead, although more narrowly than you might expect, in the open WA-3, PA-7, NH-2 and MI-1 seats.

WORST: If you’ve been waiting for the dam to break, here’s a hint about how it’s going to happen.

An alliance of Republican groups is launching a $50 million advertising blitz this week in a final push to help the GOP win a majority in the House, representing the biggest spending blitz ever by such groups in a congressional election campaign…It is aimed at the few dozen competitive races where Democratic candidates have significantly more money in the bank than their Republican opponents, eating into one of the Democrats’ last financial advantages…

In the 40 races deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, a political handicapper, Democratic candidates had a combined $39.3 million of cash on hand as of June 30, the most-recent filing deadline. Republican candidates had $16.5 million in the bank.

This effort — led by American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS, American Action Network, and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, could put a lot more races on the map. Think, for example, of MI-3, where Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is poll-poor but cash rich. Or Joe Donnelly, D, in IN-2. Or Sanford Bishop, D, in Georgia. Or Melissa Bean, D, in IL-8. Or Ed Perlmutter, D, in Colorado. Or Tim Waltz, D, in Minnesota. Or any of the House races in Connecticut or Washington State that haven’t been getting much attention lately.

Sure, there will be plenty of new whining about undisclosed donors, but unions — which only have to disclose large donations (over $5,000), and need do so only annually, months after the election is over — have been bringing hundred-million-dollar political slush funds to the table for years on behalf of Democrats, leaving the GOP at a structural disadvantage. We could all do with more disclosure by everyone, but the Democrats’ problem is that the playing field is level and the electorate doesn’t need much of a push to throw them out of power.

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