They're claiming that their group "exceeded expectations" by holding the RGA to a 'mere' +6 GOP gain overall, with five Democratic pickups and one Independent one. To begin with, that number is still up in the air: the Minnesota results have not yet come in... but even if you spot the Democrats that one, this is, well, a silly thing for the DGA to say. Let's look at the battlefield, shall we?
- Democratic pickups. CA, CT, HI, MN, RI*, VT. First off, gaining California? Worth crowing over, sure. CT likewise. We fought for both of those pretty hard. Minnesota likewise, although the state legislature flipping to GOP rules out the primary reason that the Democrats wanted the state (ie, gerrymandering Michele Bachmann's seat out of existence). Nonetheless, the DGA's pickups were all in safely Blue states (Minnesota is the purplest), which means that they gained effectively nothing when it comes to the Presidential election in 2012. And as for redistricting: aside from Minnesota, the only fertile ground there would have been California... which has just taken redistricting out of the hands of the legislature. Oops.
- Democratic holds. IL is the only one that really matters in this context, although I suppose that they're grateful not to lose CO or OR. Losing IL would have been another unmitigated disaster for the DGA: so they didn't quite run the table there. Huzzah?
- Republican holds, Red States. GA, TX. They thought that they had a shot in Texas. Didn't happen, despite unique conditions. They thought that they had a great shot in Georgia. Likewise didn't happen. Good candidates and good campaigning might have won, in either case; fortunately, the DGA provided neither.
- Republican holds, Purple States. FL, NV. Nevada may have been a long-expected disappointment; but the Democrats really, really wanted Florida. And they were certain that they were going to get it, up to the point where the Democratic candidate, well, sunk. In some ways, this was more of a disappointment than the unmitigated disasters; Florida was where the illusion that the Democrats could compete in anything except Blue States died an ignominious death.
- Republican pickups, Red States. The most interesting one here was Tennessee, if only because it was reflective of the steady erosion of Democratic support in the South.
- Republican pickups, Purple/Blue States. IA, ME, MI, NM, OH, PA, WI. This is where we see the aforementioned unmitigated disasters. The DGA DID NOT WANT to lose Ohio. The DGA DID NOT WANT to lose Pennsylvania. The DGA did not really want to lose Michigan, New Mexico, and Wisconsin either... but Ohio and Pennsylvania were two states that they absolutely need to win in 2012, and having the governorships and state legislatures flip to Republican in both states has abruptly made them hostile territory for Democrats. In comparison, the loss of the other states looks almost benign... but note well Maine; that state not only flipped governors, but also the state legislature. New England is starting to look less of a lock for the Democrats than it did in 2006 and 2008.
But they 'exceeded expectations!' Only if the expectations was for a collapse into the political equivalent of neutronium; if you think that the DGA would not have traded California for Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan - not that the RGA would have made that trade - then there's actually very little hope for you, and I don't know why you even read this site, either. The Democrats are in a noticeably worse position from which to project power in the 2012 Presidential election, particularly when it comes to swing states. This is a truth. And it's largely due to the failures of the DGA and the successes of the RGA. This is another truth. No amount of celebrating the recalibration of California and Hawaii and the retention of Illinois will disguise either.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I see no reason why I should pretend that Chafee is not functionally a Democrat.