Democratic strategists have recently started experiencing a new feeling of optimism. There are indications, they say, that the party is showing the smallest signs of a turnaround, and that rumors of their electoral demise have been premature.

But instead of a comeback, Democrats are only experiencing the benefits of a base that is finally engaging. That base will help some Democratic candidates, but in total, the party still faces serious rehabilitation work with independent voters. The party’s major problems are most evident in three prominent races that are slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward Republicans…

[M]ore Democrats’ circumstances resemble those of Manchin, Feingold and Blumenthal. Most of those other Democrats are lesser-known and not as well-funded. Until they are able to find a way to distance themselves from an unpopular president, abhor and eschew the rampant spending that has voters concerned, and turn voter anger to their own benefit, the slow slide away from the Democratic Party will continue, negating any advantage the party might gain as its base engages.