Here’s the way I think about it. When there’s a wave coming, you get to higher ground. Presumably those high up the mountain are safe. But when you see them boarding up the windows, and laying sandbags around the garden, you can tell they’re worried about how high the tsumani will go. From Reid Wilson at Hotline:
Actions speak louder than words. That’s why Democratic control of the House is looking more tenuous by the day. As the party begins to build its firewall to prevent a GOP takeover, top strategists are working to salvage seats that few considered Republican pickup opportunities just a few months ago.
The majority party is slowly starting to open its checkbook, spending millions of dollars on hard-hitting advertisements and mail campaigns aimed at undermining Republicans around the country. But the districts in which it is advertising were once considered safe, indicating that it is Republicans who have had the most success in putting seats in play.
This week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began running ads in seats held by Reps. Bill Delahunt (Mass.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Phil Hare (Ill.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), and John Salazar (Colo.). In each district, Democrats won re-election by significant, if not overwhelming, margins in 2008. Now, Democrats view every one of those seats as endangered.
The districts represent a broad cross-section of the country, from Foster’s suburban Chicago seat to Delahunt’s tony Cape Cod district, from Salazar’s Western Slope to Boswell’s mix of urban Des Moines and rural farmland. President Obama won six of those seven districts with more than 54 percent of the vote (Obama took 48 percent of the vote in Salazar’s district, narrowly losing to John McCain).
Those races have drawn attention from Republicans and their outside allies as well. Republicans and third-party groups have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against Donnelly, Foster, and Salazar. On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee said it would add Bishop, Hare, and Salazar to its already packed target list. Bishop, Boswell, and Delahunt have, so far, been spared — and yet Democrats still feel compelled to defend them with TV spots.
Democrats are endeavoring, in essence, to find the edge of the Republican wave and begin fighting back. By defending members who are least at risk, the theory goes, they can put those races away early, leaving them free to concentrate their fire on Republican candidates more likely to win Democratic seats.