The last couple of weeks, I’ve talked with Democrats and Republicans who are deeply involved in this year’s elections.
And I found a ray of hope for Democrats: 2010 may not be 1994 revisited.
The reason: 1994 itself.
What happened that year is hard-wired into Democratic DNA – in North Carolina and nationally. “1994” is a synonym for “disaster.”
In fact, 1994 shook Democrats so hard that they may avert disaster this year, when the climate looks just as bad as 16 years ago.
Case in point: the state Senate’s Democratic campaign caucus. After nearly losing their majority in 1994 – and watching Republicans take the House – they got serious about running professional campaigns: raising money, doing research and polling and producing quality mail and TV ads.
That’s how they kept their majority. And they have much the same professional team they built in 1996.
Tom Fetzer has greatly raised the Republicans’ game this year. But they’re up against a tough, experienced Democratic team.
The other difference – which one Republican consultant mentioned – is that the GOP tide is cresting earlier this year than in 1994. Then, Republicans began surging in September. This year, it came months earlier.
Then, Democrats were caught by surprise. I remember being in a meeting with then-Governor Hunt and one of his close friends. When I told them then-Congressman Martin Lancaster might lose to Walter Jones, Hunt’s friend shot back: “You cannot tell me that little pipsqueak might beat Martin.”
He did. Even more stunning, David Price lost.
This year, Democrats aren’t asleep at the switch.
Now, this may all be wishful Democratic thinking. Or the Republicans may be spiking the ball before they’re in the end zone.