At the beginning of President Obama’s term, things looked pretty bleak, but Democrat fortunes have changed in less than a year–note Pew’s favorabilities for Obama. His is pretty low for his first year and one of the lowest. Republican seats that were not safe have been moved into the “safe” category according to CQ:
While the outlook for a Republican comeback in the November 2010 elections is still far from certain, one thing is clear: The electoral environment for the GOP, after a year of political and policy turmoil, is better as 2009 ends than could have been imagined when the year began.
This certainly appears true for four House Republicans — two in California, and one each in Nevada and New York — who appeared potentially vulnerable coming out of the 2008 elections, but have to be feeling a lot more comfortable about their prospects in 2010. CQ Politics has changed its ratings to Safe Republican, up from Likely Republican, on the races featuring re-election bids by Tom McClintock of California’s 4th District, Brian P. BilbrayCalifornia’s 50th, Dean Heller in Nevada’s 2nd and Christopher Lee in New York’s 26th.
The dynamic in all these races is similar. All four districts have long histories of leaning Republican, but hosted competitive races in 2008. All were affected by the surge in Democratic energy and turnout prompted by Barack Obama ’s successful campaign for president; McClintock and Lee faced the additional challenge of competing for seats left open by Republican incumbents in a tough year for their party nationally.
But in each case, 2008 represented a window of opportunity that Democrats failed to capitalize on and will be hard-pressed to replicate any time soon.
This does not mean that the Democrats have no chance to regain lost momentum, but time is running out. It is near impossible for them to make a comeback before the elections in 10 months given they cannot recruit talented candidates to run against Republicans in competitive districts.