I'm a bit annoyed that Josh Marshall wrote this post suggesting that Democrats are looking a bit better in advance of the 2012 election. Annoyed because I've been toying with becoming an optimist on the matter myself.
Josh focuses on the poll data, but I'd tell the story a bit differently, with a heavy reliance on the graph -- which Nancy Pelosi's office is touting -- above: It looks to me like Democrats are going to pass health-care reform, and the near-death experience has reminded the base that there's a lot to like about the bill. It also looks like the economy is recovering, and there's still a lot of stimulus money left to flood into the system. That's making Republicans nervous, and so they've been breaking ranks on the Senate's recent jobs bills, with a good number crossing the aisle to vote for them. That suggests that the Democrats have hit on a good legislative strategy to push through the rest of the year. Add in that Chris Dodd is moving forward on financial regulation, and now Democrats have a way to put themselves on the right side of anger at Wall Street.Come November, you could imagine a Democratic Party that's passed health-care reform, can boast about a fragile economic recovery, and can put the Republicans on the defensive on at least one or two key issues. That lends itself to an argument of accomplishment, a warning that you don't want to switch horses midstream, and normal campaigning. Now, I don't want to go too far in this argument: Optimism here means something like Democrats will lose 20 or 30 seats in the House rather than 50 or 60. Losses are assured. But it's increasingly looking like catastrophic losses aren't.