World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search Labor Day Political Battlefield Report Labor Day Political Battlefield Report internal memo on what the Times and Post stories say enter the last big phase in the buildup to the mid term elections (You can read the full New York Times report here/a> and the Washington Post report here).

Labor Day Political Battlefield Report

• The environment for Republicans is grim: "Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House." (Washington Post) "It's the most difficult off-year cycle for the Republicans since 1982," said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and former chief of staff to the Republican National Committee 'Environmentally, it's about as good from the Democratic perspective as they could hope to have.'" (New York Times)

• The battlefield is broad: "Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control." (Washington Post)

• Voters want change: "President Bush's low approval ratings, the sharp divisions over the war in Iraq, dissatisfaction with Congress, and economic anxiety caused by high gasoline prices and stagnant wages have alienated independent voters, energized the Democratic base and thrown once-safe Republican incumbents on the defensive." (Washington Post)

• "In the latest New York Time CBS poll, just 29 percent said the country was headed in the right direction, a measure of national pessimism that rivals the 26 percent who felt that way in October 1994." (New York Times)

• "Analysts forecast a wave of change. Two independent political analysts have, in recent weeks, forecast a narrow Democratic takeover of the House, if current political conditions persist. Stuart Rothenberg, who had predicted Democratic gains of 8 to 12 seats in the House, now projects 15 to 20. Democrats need 15 to regain the majority. Charles Cook, the other analyst, said: 'If nothing changes, I think the House will turn. The key is, if nothing changes.'"(New York Times)

• Winds can shift: "[Democratic House Campaign Committee chair Rahm] Emanuel, discussing the widespread predictions that his party would win the House if the election were held today, said simply: 'It isn't today. That's the unfortunate part.'" (New York Times)

• Republicans plan a massive get-out-the-vote campaign: "Republicans are counting on their vaunted get-out-the-vote campaign, which proved so effective in 2002 and 2004, to overcome what many concede is a less than enthusiastic conservative base. The Republicans are also expected to have a financial edge this fall, although the Democrats have worked hard to narrow it."(New York Times)

• A wave of money in the next 30 days: "Mehlman said Republicans have financial and organizational assets to deploy, and he predicted that, over the next 30 days, GOP candidates will attempt to convert the elections from a referendum on the president and congressional Republicans to a choice between competing philosophies on fighting terrorism and growing the economy.'" (Washington Post)

• Karl Rove working to "frame the contest": "White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told one associate last week that he believes that the climate has begun to turn in a way that will help Republicans preserve their majorities, and GOP officials will spend the coming weeks trying to boost the president's approval ratings and frame the contest." (Washington Post)

• Massive, negative GOP attacks: "Over the next month, Democratic challengers will also feel the heat from millions of dollars' worth of negative GOP ads. Normally, incumbents wait until the final weeks of their campaigns to launch their attacks, but party strategists are warning that to wait that long could be fatal. Democrats promise to be just as aggressive in responding, but there is a window in which Republicans have a chance to plant doubts about little-known challengers." (Washington Post)

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