Carl Hulse on sunny Democratic prospects for 2012: "But the victory in New York was galvanizing for Democrats, and for now at least has given them confidence that they can use Medicare to press their broader case that Republicans are going too far in their drive to cut spending and reduce the reach of government while continuing to provide tax breaks for the wealthy." By contrast, the Times never saw Republican wins in off-year elections as noteworthy or as predictors of electoral success to come.
After Democrats won a special congressional election in New York State, Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse seemed comfortable leading the early cheers for Democrats looking to win back the House of Representatives, in Tuesday's "Political Memo," "Surprise Victory in New York Invigorates Democrats Looking to 2012
It's not something the Times does after Republican wins in special or off-year elections, when Republican victories are typically downgraded as unimportant and atypical, like the Times treated the 2009 G.O.P. wins
in governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey, which turned out to be accurate harbingers of electoral success in 2010.
Sal Pace, the Democratic leader of the State House in Colorado, was already preparing to run for Congress in a district captured by Republicans last year, but his party's special election victory last week in a conservative district in upstate New York made the decision all the easier.
Kathleen C. Hochul's recent victory in New York has members of both parties and independent analysts predicting a more competitive race next year for control of the House.
More Hulse cheerleading:
Buoyed by the New York surprise and bolstered by the prospect of a larger and friendlier electorate in a year when President Obama will be running, House Democrats say they can argue credibly that they are poised to cut into the Republican majority, though they were careful not to predict a takeover, which would require a gain of 24 seats.
But the victory in New York was galvanizing for Democrats, and for now at least has given them confidence that they can use Medicare to press their broader case that Republicans are going too far in their drive to cut spending and reduce the reach of government while continuing to provide tax breaks for the wealthy. Democrats intend to seize on that issue, which could help them recapture older voters, who rallied to Republicans in the last election.
The Democratic argument against the Republican position on Medicare could also be undercut if the White House and Congressional Democrats and Republicans reach agreement on a deal to raise the national debt ceiling that includes substantial steps to rein in the growth of Medicare.
Democrats say the Medicare plan is just one element of an emerging campaign message that will help them topple Republicans as they try to tie the Medicare overhaul to other elements of the conservative agenda being pursued by the House majority.
Hulse ended by listing specific hopeful spots for Democrats.
Depending on how redistricting goes, Democrats also see opportunities for gains in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Texas as well as other states.