It was a dark and stormy Demo­cratic night

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

This is the week the po­lit­i­cal world, like the worm, be­gins to turn. The polls, the hunches, the guesses and the vibes that only junkies feel all say it’s a Repub­li­can year and Harry Reid will soon take a seat on the back bench.

Some of the cru­cial races for con­trol of the U.S. Se­nate are still tight, but if there’s any mo­men­tum — “the big Mo,” as George Bush the Elder once called it — pro­pel­ling a Demo­cratic can­di­date any­where, it’s hard to find it.

Evil money and its in­no­cent twin, the en­thu­si­asm fac­tor, are what count in the homestretch, and shad­ows have fallen across Demo­cratic races ev­ery­where. They’re dust­ing off the panic but­ton at the White House. It doesn’t quite feel like 2010, not yet, but the Repub­li­cans are fired up, and the Democrats aren’t. It’s just about time to light can­dles to the ghost of Harry Tru­man, the pa­tron saint of can­di­dates on the ropes.

Old guys who aren’t yet ghosts are trot­ted out to reprise the tri­umphs of yes­ter­year. Bubba spent the week­end in Arkansas with Demo­cratic can­di­dates, but it was more like vis­it­ing the hos­pi­tal bed of a gravely ill friend than to de­liver a full-throated bat­tle cry to rally the troops. He sounded like a refugee from the NPR beg­ging sea­son, plead­ing that old ac­quain­tance Mark Pryor should not be for­got. Then he skipped next door to Louisiana to try to save a lady in dis­tress. (Bubba, as we all know, can’t re­sist ladies in dis­tress.) Mary Lan­drieu has watched her slen­der lead in the polls dis­solve and is trail­ing Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, the Repub­li­can chal­lenger.

The news for Democrats is dour in un­ex­pected places. Mark Udall, prac­tic­ing the cow­boy two-step on a cake­walk only a month ago, has fallen into a lake, or a drainage ditch or some­one’s swimming pool, be­cause his nose is bob­bing un­der wa­ter in Colorado. The tight­en­ing polls are be­gin­ning to feel like a noose around Kay Ha­gen’s neck in North Carolina. She was cruis­ing to a corona­tion only a fort­night ago.

Threat­ened Demo­cratic nom­i­nees in Ken­tucky and Ge­or­gia and the Demo­cratic can­di­date in West Vir­ginia in­sist they don’t re­mem­ber or won’t say who they voted for in ei­ther 2008 or 2012. (Barack Who?) Mark Begich in Alaska is the lat­est to suf­fer an am­ne­sia at­tack and has joined the ladies on the faint­ing couch.

If you want to find the ev­i­dence of some­thing bad or even sus­pi­cious, you’re sup­posed to follow the money. The money trail leads to more bad news for Mr. Obama (who watched an au­di­ence ac­tu­ally walk out on him over the week­end) and his en­dan­gered col­leagues. Repub­li­can can­di­dates re­ported out­rais­ing Demo­cratic se­na­tors by mar­gins of mil­lions, and most of them have more cash on hand to buy tele­vi­sion time over the next cru­cial fort­night.

Rep. Tom Cot­ton raised a record $3.8 mil­lion in the third quar­ter and has nearly three times as much cash on hand as Mr. Pryor in Arkansas. Eight of the last nine pub­lic-opin­ion polls show Mr. Cot­ton lead­ing by sin­gle dig­its, but ex­pand­ing.

Cory Gard­ner raised more than Mr. Udall in Colorado in the third quar­ter and has twice as much cash on hand, head­ing to­ward Nov. 4. Mr. Udall held big polling leads in late sum­mer, and the lat­est Quin­nip­iac poll has the Repub­li­can can­di­date up by 7 points. If any Demo­cratic se­na­tor thought she could re­lax on La­bor Day, it was Jeanne Shaheen in New Hamp­shire. The polls showed her lead­ing Scott Brown, the for­mer se­na­tor from Mas­sachusetts, with a dou­ble-digit lead. The race has tight­ened dra­mat­i­cally, and Mr. Brown raised more money than she did in the third quar­ter of the year.

If the money news was not bad enough, some of the most re­li­able Demo­cratic vot­ing blocs are abandoning ship. The Los An­ge­les Times re­ports that His­pan­ics, who be­lieved Mr. Obama when he told them that he would re­form im­mi­gra­tion laws be­fore the sum­mer was over, are angry and threat­en­ing to stay home in Novem­ber. The His­panic vote could al­ter the re­sult in 30 or more con­gres­sional races na­tion­wide, gu­ber­na­to­rial races in Ari­zona, Florida and Illi­nois, and Se­nate races in Ge­or­gia and Colorado.

“Obama promised us a lot of things and has not fol­lowed through,” the pub­lisher of a Span­ish-lan­guage news­pa­per in Ge­or­gia tells The Los An­ge­les Times. “A lot of peo­ple are up­set, and they don’t want to vote.”

Some Democrats are al­ready get­ting their ex­cuses ready. Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren says “the game is rigged, and the Repub­li­cans rigged it.” There’s still time for ev­ery­thing to change, of course. Pol­i­tics, like ev­ery­thing else, is al­ways at the mercy of events. But if a Demo­crat some­where knows how to un­rig a rigged elec­tion, now’s the time to get on with it. Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

El­iz­a­beth War­ren

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