I am the first person to say Democrats should be taking nothing for granted in the presidential election. Things remain relatively close; the economy continues to weigh the president down to an extent; outside Republican groups have more money than God; the terrible campaign of Republican voter suppression will take its toll; surprising new developments and/or the debates could change the dynamics before we are done. Democrats are going to have to stay focused and on message, and our field ops are going to have to do a great job of turning out the vote. But we are incredibly blessed with one of the worst Republican presidential candidates and campaigns in modern history, and this election is getting tougher and tougher for us to lose. If this videotape turns what was looking like a fairly steady 3-4 point race into a rock hard 6 point or more lead, it could have bigger implications: a wave election. Because this is a nationalized election, and because we are winning the core debates of this race.
If you are like me and checking the new polling numbers every day in races around the country, you no doubt have noticed that in the last couple of weeks, most Democratic candidates have had a significant upswing in their polling. The trendlines in most of the competitive Senate races and a wide variety of House races are moving toward the Democrats. The numbers in most of the presidential swing states are moving in Obama's direction. Elizabeth Warren is up after being down a little against Scott Brown. Tammy Baldwin is up after being behind Tommy Thompson for most of the race. Tim Kaine has opened up after being a dead heat the entire race until now. Sherrod Brown's modest lead has gotten bigger. Bill Nelson has moved substantially ahead. Only in Conn., where WWE co-founder Linda McMahon is spending unbelievable amounts of cash and has thus cut the margin in her race against progressive leader Chris Murphy, and in Missouri, where Todd Akin is sadly back within range after being down 10 at the height of the "legitimate rape" story, has the Democratic trend not materialized in big Senate races.
The reason things are looking this good can't be explained by the convention bounce, because the convention ended two weeks ago. Prior to the Romney videotape, Obama's lead had faded 2-3 points from the post-convention high. And Romney's mishaps over the last several days wouldn't explain solid number shifts in races down the ballot. The reason Democrats are trending up nationwide is that we are winning the fundamental debate both in philosophy and in values.
The Republican argument is that our economic pain comes from three sources: Obama, his big government philosophy, and deficits. We would be in a lot better shape, they say, if we just let business be completely free to do what business does best- if we just lower their taxes and unburden them from regulation and let the free market have its way, the American economy will come roaring back. And sure, we want to help people in economic distress, too, but not by giving them government assistance that makes them more dependent, but by encouraging the private sector give them jobs.
The Democratic argument is that we are all in this together, that we all built the middle class together by investing in it and that we need to go back to that philosophy to rebuild this economy. They say that it was the Republican philosophy of letting big business have its way and failing to invest that got us into this mess in the first place, and if we go back to that bad idea, things will get worse. They argue that most Americans work hard and play by the rules, and deserve to have a fair shot, a level playing field, and the chance at a decent life for them and their families.
The Democratic argument is winning. It is winning both because it makes more logical sense, but because it resonates with American values of a community and family where we help each other make it. It is winning because most Americans remember both the Bush years and the Clinton years, and they know the latter were a whole lot better. And it is winning because people know that the wealthy and big business already gets huge advantages over everyone else, they know that the deck is stacked against regular people, and they don't want a government that goes even more in that direction.
At the end of the day, this whole Ayn Rand idea of rewarding the strong since they do such great things for society, and doing nothing for anyone else because we don't want them to become "dependent", is not very appealing to a majority of the American people. Americans by and large know that selfishness is not a virtue, and that we should help take care of the elderly, those who are ill or have disabilities, and children who need food, medicine, and decent schools.
Since we Democrats are winning the argument, and since Romney and Ryan have given us such a great opportunity to have an open debate our values and philosophy, let's drive our advantage home. We shouldn't let up in making our case. We should reinforce the narrative and help lift the entire party up.
Anything can still happen and we should take nothing for granted, but there is a real chance if we keep pressing our advantage of making this a wave election. In that kind of election, in spite of the money arrayed against us, we can not only win the presidency and most of these big Senate elections, but there is a real chance at retaking the House. As I am looking at both the individual race dynamics and the way this election has been nationalized, it is clearer and clearer that we are far closer to winning the House than conventional wisdom believes. At this point the only thing holding up the Republicans is the unbelievable amount of money the wealthy special interests like the ones hanging out with Romney at that Wall Street fat cat's house on the video.
We have a narrative, a philosophy, and a set of values that are winning this election debate. Let's stay on message and drive this home to a big victory.