In the process of trying to convince people that Tom Perriello might possibly have a chance at keeping his seat in Virginia's Fifth District (given Perriello's bad habit of voting as directed by his party's liberal leadership) against Robert Hurt, the Washington Post tried to trot out this particular line of nonse... ah, conventional wisdom:
Though polls suggest that Republicans are by far the more energized party this year, the Democrats argue that -- unlike the last time they lost the House, in 1994 -- they aren't being caught off-guard.
Not off-guard? Let's take a look at the chart below.
The above represents the Cook Political Report race rankings since January 2009 for every month that he's done one (in months where there was more than one, I took the last one of the month), ending with the 07/22/2010 report. 'Total' represtents every race that isn't listed as Safe. 'Lean/TU' represents seats held by incumbents that are either Lean R/D or Toss-Up R/D. 'Most Vuln' are seats held by incumbents in the Toss-Up R/D categories, or incumbents actually listed as being likely pickups (ie, a Democrat in a Likely R seat). To summarize the summary: since the start of the election season Democrats have doubled the number of seats that they need to be at least wary about; tripled the number of seats that they need to worry about; and... use whatever technical term stands for 'nine times' that they need to panic about. Meanwhile, the Republicans have halved their 'wary' seats and stood pat on their 'worry' seats; I'll concede that we quadrupled our 'panic' seats, but going from one to four (two open, two poached) seems a small price to pay for watching a third of the Democratic House caucus start sweating the 2010 elections. And note that it isn't even Labor Day yet. Back at the equivalent point in 2008, we were looking at 33/68 D/R wary seats, 20/33 worry seats, and 8/23 panic seats (and we ended up losing a net 21 in November).
So I'm going to have to say that if this represents the Democrats being not caught off-guard, then one shudders to think what being caught off-guard would look like. Also, at this rate the Democratic endgame is going to look something like this
But perhaps that last is just me being mean.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.