NYT embraces pre-emption

The Dems are floundering in New York. So says the NYT, in an article that looks like a pre-emptive strike against nutroots pre-election overconfidence:

In a year when Democrats hope to take control of the House of Representatives, New York would appear to be fertile ground for toppling Republican incumbents. Democrats have a statewide edge in enrollment, and a popular incumbent, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is at the top of the party’s ticket.

In fact, just a few months ago, Democrats envisioned significant gains in New York, perhaps picking up as many as four seats, possibly even five. But that goal now seems increasingly remote, and there is an emerging consensus among political analysts that the party’s best chance for capturing a Republican seat is the battle to succeed Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert, one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress, who is retiring.

The Democrats are struggling in New York? That’s just weird. If they can’t make it there, they can’t make it anywhere. Yes, I know that upstate isn’t NYC. I just couldn’t resist the line.

The situation in New York is particularly surprising given the state’s reputation as a Democratic bastion. National and state party officials have spent months trying to create buzz around those races. But Republican incumbents, in New York and elsewhere, have been trying to shift the focus of the races away from hostility toward the Bush administration to more local concerns, like the potential loss of federal aid to their districts if they lose veteran congressmen.

Representative John E. Sweeney, one of the Republican incumbents, said the situation in New York demonstrated the drawbacks of the Democratic effort to present the midterm elections as a national referendum on President Bush and the policies of Republican leaders in Washington. “Congressional races are local,” he said. “There can be superseding events like Watergate. But those are rare. These races really are a referendum on the people running.”

In addition — and perhaps most important — the incumbents in New York are benefiting from being in legislative districts drawn to keep the Republican incumbents in place.

That last line looks like resignation and nutroots bait. Democrats should win in New York, but thanks to those eeeevil Republicans gerrymandering makes it nearly impossible. I’m sure at least half a dozen conspiracy theories, all contradicting each other, will arise from that line. Bonus points for working in Diebold and Tom Delay.

But.

The Democrats’ inability to gain traction can be measured in the fund-raising disparity between them and Republicans, and is reflected in interviews with strategists in both parties and independent analysts. The national party assesses the strengths of a campaign according to several factors, including the ability of candidates to raise money on their own and their standing in polls.

You can’t gerrymander fundraising, and on that measure the Democrats are lagging behind. So they bring in the big, illegal in a McCain-Feingold world, guns.

Democrats say there is plenty of time for challengers to close any gaps. To that end, one prominent liberal group, MoveOn.org Political Action, is running advertisements attacking Mr. Sweeney and John R. Kuhl Jr., a first-term Republican from the Corning area, as part of a national campaign to help Democratic challengers who are in so-called second-tier races: contests that have the potential to become competitive but are not considered competitive yet.

Within 60 days of the election, that’s illegal. The MoveOn gun’s due to go silent.

Don’t misunderstand me in the tone of this post. I’m not engaging in premature triumphalism. The Republicans are up against a daunting environment, and while they’re far from perfect we really do need them to hold on to Congress or the Conyers Brigades are going to charge in there, de-fund the war and tear this country to shreds. So I guess I’m just a bit giddy that the New York Times is so worried about Democrat fortunes in New York State that it seems to be begging Howard Dean to abandon his 50-state strategy and pour money into Democrat bastions just to shore up flagging candidacies there. Because that’s just funny, I don’t care who you are.

(h/t Entelechy)