So here's what is going on with the electorate right now: Committed Democrats and committed ideological leftists are excited, committed Republicans are resolute -- and disaffected Republicans and frustrated, sometimes-right-leaning swing voters are starting to reconsider their inclination to punish congressional Republicans for poor performance.
The election returns will be determined by the results of those reconsiderations.
If readers will forgive the amateur psycho-analysis, what those disaffected and GOP-targeted swing voters are thinking (and feeling) goes something like this...:
"Holy #$@$, I wish all this election stuff could end. I don't want to vote for any of these bums. Well, actually, my guy in Congress isn't half bad, but he's not out there fighting those Hastert types to hold their feet to the fire; he's sort of a go-along-to get along guy who cares about our district, but, darn it, he might be worth losing if it sends a message to Washington to get its act together. I just don't know.... You know, I just am sick of all this kowtowing to the big money guys. I'm a main-street kind of guy; I don't care if those big corporations get their tax breaks. I just want government to stop spending too much of my tax money, to stop running up all these big deficits, to keep government from getting too involved in my life here at home. All I really want it to do is to make sure we're protected, and maybe that I won't lose my shirt if I lose my job or whatever.
"I mean, I want our government to kill all those terrorists and keep us safe, but I don't get all this Iraq stuff. Why the hell can't we get things under control over there; it's not like they can match up with our military. I mean, why can't we kick their butts and bring our guys home? These Bush people aren't getting the job done. And meanwhile, all those congressmen are taking bribes and free meals and hitting on interns and putting cash in their freezers, and all they do is yell at each other and bicker instead of making sure that all those foreigners don't take our jobs or our money. Why can't they just make government and the tax code and all our policies less complicated, and why can't they get their act together to protect our borders and keep our jobs at home instead of in Mexico or India or China or wherever?
"That's why I was gonna send a message to those guys. I sorta lean toward the Republicans usually. I thought they were tougher about keeping the terrorists away and fighting crime and keeping government out of our lives, but instead they just pad their own pockets and build bridges to nowhere and fiddle around while we screw things up over in Iraq. I'm so sick of them...I was gonna stay home on election day, or maybe vote for some independent guy or maybe at least take a look at one of those Democrats. You know, shake things up in Washington, keep Bush's feet to the fire, or just not bother voting because none of those guys are worth the bother.
"At least that's what I WAS gonna do. Now, I just don't know. I mean, these are dangerous times, and I'm not doing too bad myself. I don't want my family to lose all we've built up, so maybe we shouldn't rock the boat. I mean, the media is going crazy telling us how the Democrats are gonna win all these elections, and just to shake things up in Washington I was thinking that wouldn't be such a bad thing...but now I'm not so sure. I mean, I've been thinking about this, and I haven't seen a single thing from these Democrats that gives me any confidence. All they do is tear down Bush for the sake of tearing down Bush. Clinton gave us a good economy, in a way, but I think all those Democrats in Congress are big libs who are gonna raise my taxes. The stock market is doing okay right now -- what if the Democrats come in and scare the stock market and screw everything up with high taxes? And what if they just cut and run from Iraq without letting us keep our respect? What if they just make us look weak? The Bush people look like they can't tie their shoes in Iraq at the same time they chew gum, but at least they show that we Americans can't be messed with. If those Democrats make us cut and run, won't the terrorists just come back here and blow up more of our buildings?
"I just don't know. At least the Republicans talk a good game about keeping government from getting too big. And at least they understand how bad those crazy jihadists are. The Democrats seem to think Bush is even worse than bin Laden. That's just crazy.
"Here's what I really think. If I had needed to vote last week, I either woulda stayed home or voted for somebody else against the Republican who's my congressman right now. Just to send a message. But now I'm not so sure. Maybe I'll stick with my guy one more time. Maybe all of this hoopla will scare the Republicans straight. Maybe the media deserve to have their hype shoved down their own throats. I already know the worst the Republicans can do; maybe they'll do better than they have been, but at least they won't do any worse and at least right now I have a job and my family has a nice home and everything.
"But those Democrats? All those crazy liberals, you just can't trust them if they get any power at all....
"Maybe the thing to do is to let Bush and the Republicans finish the job for two more years. They got us into all this; let them get us out. If they still screw it up, we'll have a chance in the next presidential election to really change course. Why not just let things play out right now and let the Republicans clean up their own mess? Aw, hell, I voted for them in the first place, maybe I'll just stick with my guns one more time.
"So how about you. What do YOU think?"
In other words, Republican-leaning voters and small-government conservatives are thinking about "coming home" to Republicans one more time, and making it possible for the GOP, just barely, to hold both houses of Congress. Their minds are still in flux, but they are thinking that with the Democrats as the alternative, a vote to punish Republicans may amount to cutting off their noses just to spite their faces.
In short, their votes are still in play.