Since there's no doubt that November's going to be bloody for Democrats, the question now is how bloody. With prospects for good economic news before November—the only real elixir that can save them—basically out of the question, they can only hope that Republicans fail to press their advantage.
Two bright spots in a sea of inky black: Colorado and Massachusetts, where infighting among conservatives threatens to derail two good prospects for Republican takeovers of governor's mansions.
In Colorado, one-term Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter decided not to run for reelection in the face of bad polling against GOP challenger Scott McInnis. (This gets complicated, so bear with me.) Democrats nominated Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to run in his place. But McInnis, whose formidable draw scared Ritter out of the race, saw his campaign crumble after revelations of repeated plagiarism, and he narrowly lost a primary to Dan Maes. Maes's campaign hasn't exactly been smooth, either. The businessman, who said that a bike-sharing program in Denver is a Trojan horse for the U.N. to steal American sovereignty, is in a game of chicken with Tom Tancredo, a former U.S. representative and presidential candidate known for his hard-line views on immigration.
Tancredo has launched an independent bid and demanded that Maes drop out of the race—a demand Maes has rebuffed—and traded recriminations on live radio with Colorado GOP chair Dick Wadhams. With both men still in the race, a Rasmussen poll shows Hickenlooper with a substantial lead, with 46 percent of the vote against 25 percent for Tancredo and 21 percent for Maes. If one candidate drops out, it will surely cut into Hickenlooper's lead, but it might not be enough: more voters have an unfavorable view of both Tancredo and Maes than have favorable views, while Hickenlooper appears to be well liked.
Meanwhile, The New York Times' Abby Goodnough has a fascinating report from Massachusetts this morning. In the Bay State, an unpopular Democratic governor has decided to run for reelection rather than bow out. The race is being closely watched because Gov. Deval Patrick is seen as a bellwether for President Obama, since both men are young, liberal, black politicians. Goodnough writes that Patrick's challenger, Charlie Baker, was long seen as "a shoo-in" to beat the governor, but has found his wheels spinning; a poll last week showed Patrick in the lead, but with a paltry 34 percent.
The Times reports that there are some questions about Baker's natural abilities as a campaigner, but his other problem is Tim Cahill, an esoteric rival. Cahill, a former Democrat, is running as an independent and wooing Tea Party voters, hoping to pick up on the magic of Scott Brown. Although a Cahill win is a long shot, he's successfully diverting voters—and money—from Baker's assault on Patrick. And there's bitter infighting, there, too, with the Republican Governors Association having aired ads attacking Cahill.
There's still plenty of time for Baker to pull out a win, and Hickenlooper isn't out of the woods, either. But national Democrats must be relieved to be catching a couple of breaks in states where they could easily be dead in the water.