GOP: Left for Dead on Sunday, Spark of Life on Monday

What a difference a couple of favorable Republican polls make in the Times' coverage

Sunday's lead story from Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner has a tone ofunrelieved grimness for Republican Party prospects tomorrow("G.O.P. Glum as It Struggles to Hold Congress - Lost Seats Seen, Even in Best Outcome").

"The battle for Congress rolled into a climactic final weekend with Republican Party leaders saying the best outcome they could foresee was losing 12 seats in the House. But they were increasingly steeling themselves for the loss of at least 15 seats and therefore control of the House for the first time in 12 years.

"Democrats and Republicans said the battle over the Senate had grown fluid going into the final hours before the elections on Tuesday. Democrats said they thought they were almost certain to gain four or five seats and still had a shot at the six they need to take control."

Nagourney and Toner took the liberty of delivering some predictions, none of them good for the GOP.

"In the Senate, Republicans girded themselves for what strategists from both parties described as the almost certain defeat of Senators Mike DeWine of Ohio and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. They said that Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was also probably headed for a loss....In what some senior Republican strategists said was something between a long-shot and a Hail Mary pass, Republicans were spending money in Michigan to defeat Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic incumbent, as well as in Maryland, hoping that black voters in the state would desert the Democratic Party and vote for Michael Steele, a black Republican running for an open seat....In the House, Democrats seem all but assured of picking up open Republican seats in Arizona, Iowa and Colorado, along with the Ohio seat of Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and stepped down on Friday."

Times Watch will see how accurate the Times' reporters and favored sources turn out to be.

But wait!

What a difference a day makes. After two polls showed a tightening of the race for control of Congress, the spin was just a bit different in Monday's off-lead report from Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg, "Bush Trumpets Verdict in Iraq, As Some Polls Lift G.O.P. Spirit."

"President Bush on Sunday seized on the conviction of Saddam Hussein as a milestone in Iraq, seeking to rally Republican voters with the issue of national security as some polls suggested that his party might be making gains in the final hours of the campaign."

After that suspiciously positive portrayal of Republicans, we're soon reminded that yes, this is the New York Times. The paper plants this paranoid thought (an infection that's already taken down Times columnist Paul Krugman): "The White House said the timing of the announcement, two days before Election Day, had nothing to do with American politics and had been dictated by the Iraqi court. But Mr. Bush moved quickly to put it to use in what has been his central strategic imperative over the past week, trying to rouse Republican voters to turn out."

Nagourney and Rutenberg point out: "The announcement out of Baghdad came as polls suggested some gains for Republicans. A Pew Research Center Survey released on Sunday found that the number of likely voters who said they would vote for the Democrats was now 47 percent compared with 43 percent who said they would vote for Republicans. Two weeks ago, Democrats had an edge of 50 to 39. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found a similar tightening."