DEMS ARE -- GASP! -- STAYING ON OFFENSE. It was refreshing to read the toughly worded statement DSCC chief Chuck Schumer put out today about the AP poll which showed far more Americans want Democrats to run Congress. Said Schumer:

The chickens are coming home to roost. An administration that is incompetent on both domestic and foreign affairs, doesn�t care about the average person and puts special interests ahead of everyday families desperately needs a counterbalance in Congress. The only way to achieve that kind of balance is to elect more Democrats and the American people see that more clearly everyday.

The key here is this: To the extent Dems are the ones nationalizing the midterm elections on their terms -- exactly what Schumer is doing here by saying that only electing Democrats can check the awful damage the Bush presidency is inflicting -- they will be ones playing offense, and they will be the party with the initiative. If the GOP succeeds in nationalizing the election with its issues -- something they'll be desperate to do -- they of course become the party on offense. It's not surprising that even Republicans are pessimistic about turning things around, given numbers like these in the AP poll:

A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

Numbers like those obviously suggest the likelihood of dismal turnout on the right, and so it'll be interesting to see whether the Republicans stick to their usual base-mobilization strategy. If so, they'll need to pull something pretty darn dramatic out of their bag of tricks. It seems Dems are realizing they shouldn't worry about this or that imminent GOP tactical move, and just focus on maintaining the offensive -- something that would also be helped if Dems continue pressing their own ideas to silence the punditry's "Dems don't have ideas of their own" chorus. Every day Dems stay on offense delays the day when the GOP retakes the initiative, and it looks as if Schumer grasps that -- but still, let's face it, there's a long, hot summer ahead.

--Greg Sargent

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