Inside the Beltway

ZOMBIE ZAMBOREE

There are 22 days until the midterm election derby gets under way. The Democratic Party has only 528 hours left to pacify its base, titillate the curious and woo undecideds to the cause. Naturally, strategists are ramping up the campaign message and amping up the volume, while wringing their hands and passing the hat.

“Republican candidates are a little like zombies in horror movies. You should never assume that youve escaped them. Were seeing all sorts of plans for obscene spending in the final weeks, which means even more scurrilous attacks, dirty tricks and outright lies,” says a money plea to loyalists from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, reminding them that 15 high-profile races find rivals within 5 points of one another - and Republicans only need to win 10 of those bouts.

“Ive been doing this nearly 30 years, and Ive never seen anything quite like it. Were running out of tomorrows,” says commitee director J.B. Poerch, while Mitch Stewart, director of the Democratic National Committee’s “Organizing for America” division, is calling upon all good party members to show some “guts.”

For the zombies, no doubt.

“The Democratic National Committee is going to exhaust itself trying so hard to change the political conversation,” observes Tom Collamore, vice president of communications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the organization accused of accepting overseas funding by the White House and a noisy Democratic attack ad.

“That ad,” Mr. Collamore calmly says, “is ridiculous and false.”

WITCH ONE?

“She came right out and said she’s not a witch. Has Hillary Clinton ever cleared that up?” (P.J. O’Rourke, regarding Christine ODonnell’s newest “Im Not a Witch” campaign ad, to HBO’s Bill Maher.)

SAFETY IN NUMBERS

Critics have warned Republicans not to assume the party will effortlessly retake Congress with multiple victories in the midterm elections. 2010 isn’t 1994, they caution. Don’t expect to relive the Newt Gingrich glory days or duplicate the wins of yesteryear. Well. Hmm. Don’t know about that.

“Gallup’s recent modeling of the vote for Congress finds 54 percent of likely voters identifying themselves as politically conservative, while moderates are in conspicuously short supply compared with recent midterms. Also, Republicans make up a larger share of the electorate in Gallup’s initial 2010 likely voter pool - greater than their 1994 share - than do Democrats, and the gap is even more pronounced once the leanings of independents are taken into account,” says analyst Lydia Saad, noting that Gallup consistently found Republicans more engaged and more “thoughtful” about the midterms than their Democratic counterparts.

“This may well translate into highly disproportionate turnout among Republicans and conservatives on Election Day. That is a key reason Gallup’s latest polling finds Republican candidates leading Democrats by 13- and 18-point margins, depending on turnout, in two estimates of the vote. Another is that political independents are aligning themselves with the Republican Party to a degree unprecedented in recent history,” Ms. Saad adds.

CONSIDER THE SOURCE

“Obama has a considerable ego.” (New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick, to Der Speigel.)

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