August 08, 2011
MADISON Wis. — Democrats on the ground here are increasingly confident they will pick-up two state Senate seats, but are warning that winning the third necessary for a takeover is a tenuous prospect.
Despite hype from some in the party apparatus about a “six for six” sweep Tuesday, the more realistic scenario is winning two or three seats, according to those involved in the ground game.
The most stark word of caution is included in a private memo obtained by POLITICO from the Democratic-leaning We Are Wisconsin group to its donors.
“In our final days, we remain cautiously optimistic about our chances to take back the Senate. But predictions of victory at this point are beyond premature – they’re dangerous,” wrote We Are Wisconsin field director Kristen Crowell in an Aug. 3 memo obviously designed to lower expectations.
“While we have solid research suggesting there are races where we might secure a second and third potential pick-up, none of these of these races except 32 should be considered safe pick-ups (and even there we face challenges to get the ball over the goal line), and we are dealing with an unprecedented electorate that is very difficult to forecast,” she continues.
After outlining the odds Democrats face in going up against the “unlimited resources” of “corporate interests, she warns the the predictions of three wins in bank are overblown.
“While we believe we have the best, most talented team available in place to execute our program down the stretch, predictions of even 3 solid wins on August 9th – much less 4, 5, or 6 – are simply not reflective of the situation on the ground as we see it. But we remain confident that based on all our efforts and planning, we have the best possible program in place to potentially pull this thing off on August 9th and defend our gains on August 16th,” she said.
Democrats on the ground mirror Crowell’s sentiment privately. They note that they are battling six Republican incumbents in a special election who were victorious during President Obama’s historic 2008 performance.
“It’s an uphill battle for us, it’s tough terrain,” said one operative working with the unions on get-out-the-vote efforts.
In race by race breakdowns, Crowell writes that she’s most confident about defeating Sen. Dan Kapanke, describing it as “our most likely pick up.” She also views the challenge to the ethically-challenged Sen. Randy Hopper as “trending in our direction.”
That leaves districts 8 and 14 as the true battleground, where Democratic Rep. Sandy Pasch is battling Sen. Alberta Darling in the northern Milwaukee suburbs and Rep. Randy Clark is attempting to upend Sen. Luther Olsen in a rural district that sits about an hour north of Madison.
The Republican National Committee political director agrees that Senate Districts 8 and 14 will determine whether the GOP can hold control of the upper chamber.
“This thing will be won or lost in 8 or 14,” RNC political director Rick Wiley told POLITICO.