Democrats won’t count votes before they’re cast

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“Waves come crashing in; they also pull you out,” cautioned Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

“We have to focus on our efforts between now and election night and spend less time focusing on … the drapes we’ll pick out.”

There is some evidence that Democrats’ confidence may be premature.

Dick Morris, a former strategist for President Clinton, yesterday wrote that the Republican base “seems to be coming back home,” according to vague emerging trends in polls.

In the Tennessee Senate race for instance, Republican Bob Corker has taken a lead over Democrat Harold E. Ford Jr., according to Zogby and Rasmussen polls. In New Jersey’s Senate race, Republican Tom Kean Jr. now leads Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez in the latest Zogby poll.

The generic Democratic edge is down from nine points a few weeks ago to four points now, according to the Zogby survey — all of which prompt the two strategists to say control of Congress has shifted from “lean Democrat” to a “tossup.”

A Gallup poll over the weekend also found 54 percent think their own representative deserves to be re-elected.

Still, both parties know the ultimate outcome largely hangs on voter turnout.

“You don’t count polls; you count heads,” Mr. Redfern said.

He said his get-out-the-vote operation is shunning “the unbridled enthusiasm” for Democrats that he sees coming from Washington pundits and pollsters.

In Ohio and elsewhere, Democrats are working this year to match the successful voter turnout program Republicans put in place.

“I’ve seen no signs of Democratic overconfidence as I travel the country, because overconfidence is when you believe something will happen but don’t have a lot of good reasons,” said Merrill Matthews, a political analyst for the Texas-based think tank Institute for Policy Innovation.

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