Plouffe plays the expectation game

Posted on October 11, 2010


After first claiming that Democrats were beginning to make a comeback and could be expected to fare better on November 2nd, it seems that the new strategy is to hype up massive and unrealistic GOP gains with the goal of ridiculing the failure to achieve that level as somehow a massive repudiation. President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, leads the way:

Trying to reshape expectations for the midterm elections David Plouffe said Thursday that the Republicans should be expected to make a full sweep of Congress – and key gubernatorial races – given the environmental advantages they have. Anything less, he said, should be seen as a disgrace.

“By their definition, success is winning back the House, winning back the Senate and winning every major governor’s race,” Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, said. “When you’ve got winds this strong in your favor, that’s the kind of election you need to have – or it should be considered a colossal failure.”

Got that? If Republicans don’t completely run the table, winning back both houses of Congress and all governorships, they’re a colossal failure. I fully expect some variation of this theme to play out as election returns come in on Election Night in an attempt to mitigate the damage of what appears to be a massive rejection of the Democratic agenda.

A question for Plouffe – in his world, what’s the magic number of Republican victories where it doesn’t equate to a disgrace? If Republicans win the House, several governorships, but fall one seat short of controlling the Senate, is that somehow a validation of Democrats in Congress and, more illogically, represent an invalidation of GOP gains?

That’s the way they’d like to spin it, no matter how ridiculous that sounds. In the House, every single member is up for reelection – a massive shift in power in that chamber alone would represent a significant step away from Democrats. Flipping the Senate still remains a dicey proposition, and while I think the House will probably flip to GOP control, I remain skeptical of enough seats flipping in the Senate. Doesn’t mean it’s not possible, just that it will be a nice surprise for me on election night.

If this is the game Plouffe wants to play, then so be it – he should only succeed in depressing Democratic base voters who won’t bother turning out to mitigate what Plouffe says should be a blowout. Indeed, the goal of the White House all along seems to simply play a game of expectations, just as it did with the stimulus in promising millions of new jobs, then ratcheting down the bar with the mantra that while job gains and economic stimulus wasn’t evident, “things would have been much worse.”

Tell you what – be interested in expectations all you want. Millions of voters like myself are much more concerned with reality than with hype and manipulation.

Posted in: Politics