ST. LOUIS (AP) — Under no illusions about their challenges this fall, Democrats are expressing optimism that the party's financial might and voter turnout operations will help stem widespread losses. The GOP's governing track record may help, too, they say.
"There's a lot of doom and gloom about it, but I think we're going to do a lot better than people think," Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party chairman, told Democratic National Committee members at a two-day meeting. "We've got a long way to go, but I think a number of factors are moving in the right direction for us."
He pointed to strong July fundraising — an $11.5 million haul leaving Democrats with $10.8 million in the bank — and a proven get-out-the-vote operation built upon the success of the 2008 presidential election that delivered Barack Obama the White House.
"We believe that counts for an awful lot," Kaine said.
It was a message echoed — at least publicly — by his rank and file, which gathered Thursday in this bellwether state to get a status report of preparations for the 2010 midterm elections and approve changes to the 2012 presidential primary calendar and nominating convention.
Privately, some Democrats fretted that the political environment may be getting even more difficult for the party in power, with dour economic news seeming to pile up with each passing day. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits reached the half-million mark last week for the first time since November.