“The early polls were really a gauge of people’s anger, but more recent polls are a gauge of people’s options,” Delaware Gov. and Democratic Governors Association Chairman Jack Markell told POLITICO.

What’s driving Democratic optimism is improving polling numbers—in both individual races and in generic indicators—ramped up fundraising and their field efforts.

In the Ohio and Illinois governors’ races, Democratic candidates have sliced into Republican margins and are now effectively tied or slightly trailing their GOP opponents. And in California and New York, Republican gubernatorial hopefuls have suffered major self-inflicted wounds…

Party officials also point to fundraising as an indicator of grassroots enthusiasm. The Democratic National Committee will report raising over $16 million in September – by far their best fundraising month of the election cycle, DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse told POLITICO.