Charlie Cook upgrades midterm projection from landslide to freaky deaky landslide

Not only are we now in 1994 territory, we’re actually a bit beyond it: The new number predicts net gains in the range of 48 to 60 seats. Not good enough? Well, Hotline’s studying the polls too, and while they don’t offer any predictions, the tone of this post makes it sound like they’re envisioning a landslide more of the “freaky double deaky” variety. Actual quote: “Some of the polls are so striking that next Wednesday, the day after the midterm election, observers may turn to these surveys as a symbol of when the bottom fell out for Democrats.”

Eeyoreblogger pessimism status check: Uncomfortable.

The Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook is a Democratic net loss of 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible. A turnover of just 39 seats would tip majority status into Republican hands. The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating, if anything it has intensified.

Whereas fewer than a third of Democratic Senate seats are up for election, House Democrats are suffering the full violence of this national undertow. Over a quarter of the entire 255-member House Democratic caucus have trailed GOP opponents in at least one public or private survey, and nearly half have tested under 50 percent of the vote in at least one poll.

Ace has been bumming me out lately by moping that the GOP might “only” pick up 44 seats or so — which, in fairness, would mean that they did in fact underperform according to these new Cook numbers. But forget Cook. In all seriousness, what sort of number are we shooting for here in order to send a message to Obama that simply can’t be spun away? My rule of thumb a month or two ago was that mid-40s is good, low 50s (which would match 1994) is superb, and 60 or more is Refudiation nirvana. Does that still hold, or do the increasingly rosy scenarios from the Cooks and Nate Silvers of the world (our own Patrick Ishmael predicts 60+) mean that it’s now 50 seats or bust? The pessimism status check is going to move to very uncomfortable if that’s the case because … 50 seats is just an awful lot. Even with everything breaking the right way, that would mean we had two 1994 blockbusters in the span of just 16 years. Lightning strikes twice?

Whatever happens, look on the bright side: Never again will the left be able to spin away Clinton’s midterm disaster as a one-off fluke. Every Democratic president from here on out will have to reckon with the possibility that an ambitious liberal agenda in his/her first two years is apt to produce utterly crushing losses in the House. They’ll never admit that publicly — the economy and “messaging” and, um, the weather will be blamed for everything, natch — but it’ll cast a shadow over them for years to come. I’ll leave you with this clip, the surest indicator yet that the GOP’s on its way to big things next week: Bob Shrum continues to insist that Democrats will hold both the Senate and the House.