A piece in the NY Times makes an interesting point about some of the northeastern Democrats who are in trouble in the 2010 cycle:
So the best you can say for most of the embattled Democrats of the Northeast might be: What’s the alternative? The party of Bush, Limbaugh and Coulter, with Newt Gingrich as the minister of new ideas? Good luck with that. Mr. Corzine may be in trouble, but a Republican hasn’t won a statewide race in New Jersey since Christie Whitman in 1997.
So, in the short run, unless things completely fall apart, President Obama’s popularity could be a powerful hole card for Democrats running in a real, rather than hypothetical, election.
That is actually a point worth thinking about. The best weapon that Connecticut Democrats have been able to use against Republicans running for Congress is their affiliation with the national party and all that comes with it. The national GOP isn’t particularly popular with voters in the state (and, frankly, neither is the state party), while Democrats, President Obama especially, are.
Sure, the popularity of Democrats could head downhill, especially if the economy isn’t showing tangible signs of recovery by next year. Obama’s popularity especially could suffer, and that has the potential to hurt Dodd. However, will voters be ready to hand things back to the Republicans?
I have my doubts. 2010 is not 1994. Republicans aren’t the disciplined, focused, fresh-faced party of new ideas up against the slow-moving dinosaurs that Democrats were at the time. It will take a lot to persuade the Connecticut independents who kicked the GOP out of three House seats over the past two election cycles to take a chance on another Republican, even over Chris Dodd. If Obama is still reasonably popular in the state, he could make a strong case that he needs Dodd, a Democrat, in the Senate to help with his agenda.
Still, this is a fight I’m sure Democrats would rather not have. We’ll see just how bad things are for Dodd next week, as it looks like Quinnipiac is working on a poll.