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Boo! Halloween for Democrats comes early with spooky poll numbers

It's scary times for Democrats. Some 100 House seats are now in play – almost all of them held by Democratic incumbents. And one-quarter of Obama's 2008 supporters are defecting to the GOP.

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“Keeping in mind that Democrats now hold 59 percent of all House seats, the Republicans' lead among likely voters in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll is 52-45 percent; CBS News has it at 45-37 percent, while the ABC News/Washington Post poll has it at 49-43 percent,” he writes. “If those margins hold in the eventual popular vote total, it would translate into considerably more than the 218 seats Republicans need for the barest majority.”

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That is, it’s increasingly likely that Republicans will gain more than the 39 House seats they need to take control there.

What can Democrats do about this?

“At this point, Democratic campaign officials are faced with performing the painful triage process that their GOP counterparts had to engage in two and four years ago – cutting their losses on incumbents who look unlikely to be saved and shifting resources to those whose campaigns seem salvageable,” Cook writes. “It's never pretty, but to avoid doing so means spreading resources too thinly to have an impact.”

Oh, and there’s another set of political numbers that’s frightening to Democrats. These come with a $ in front of them.

According to the most recent quarterly report of campaign funds, at least 40 Democratic incumbents took in less money than their Republican challengers.

“In a particularly worrying sign for Democratic campaign officials, the list of incumbents who fell behind in raising funds includes members who were long thought to be safer,” reports Alex Isenstadt at

That included powerful House committee chairmen Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Ike Skelton of Missouri, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California (whose opponent, John Dennis, outraised Pelosi by more than 3-to-1).

Charlie Cook’s advice to Democrats?

Don’t try to woo independent voters but stick to rousing partisan Democrats with the kind of “red meat messaging” that propels them to the polls.

“Focusing primarily on the base is simpler,” he writes. “It's not a winning strategy; indeed, some would call it defeatist. Instead, it is one Democrats hope will keep losses down to ‘really bad’ but maybe below the ‘catastrophic’ level. Maybe.”