Opinion: Republicans and Democrats begin playing the Expectations Game over Nov. 2 midterms


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You know how a spouse might call at work one day and mysteriously promise a very special surprise for dinner that night? And when you arrive home, all curious and full of an entire afternoon’s anticipation, you discover the spouse got Chinese takeout?

It’s nice and all -- especially the potstickers. But you feel kinda disappointed, not because of what actually happened, which was very thoughtful. But because of what you let your own expanded expectations conjure.


That’s the Expectations Game. Both Republicans and Democrats have begun to play it in public these last 25 days before the first midterm verdict on the very much-anticipated presidential administration of the Illinois guy (No, not Rahm).

Right now, the collective media is desperately on alert for a fresh storyline to maintain its....

....own interest and keep you watching and reading through Nov. 2, when it can adopt the Lame Duck Congress narrative. One possibility for this month is the Democratic Comeback Storyline. Americans adore comebacks and upsets, even if they’ve never watched Boise State. Why do you think Bristol Palin is still on ‘DWTS’? Like many news consumers, the media is tired of the Day of Reckoning Storyline that’s been played out, lo, these many months. How, fueled by ‘tea party’ anger, upsets and ominous polls, and led by less-than-personable Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and aloof you-know-who stubbornly insisting he knows that healthcare is what the unemployed nation really needs, the Democrats are going to have their lunch handed to them on election day.

Been there, read that.

Now, watch:

In these dwindling campaign days Democrats will feign fretting about some kind of colossal Republican landslide. No, better yet, an electoral tsunami (see photo above) that could propel the GOP quite possibly to capture, geez, who knows, maybe 200 more seats just in the House alone. Seriously! It could be that good for those no-goods.

On Tuesday VP Joe Biden revealed to a St. Paul audience that the Democratic Party is not dead, which no one had said it was yet. But he’s setting the scene for mere survival to be an immense victory come Nov. 2.

The Washington Post touted another such self-serving pessimistic pronouncement Thursday by David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager who’s been thinking 2012 for months now.

‘Success,’ Plouffe said about the GOP, ‘is winning back the House, winning back the Senate and winning every major governor’s race. When you’ve got winds this strong in your favor, that’s the kind of election you need to have -- or it should be considered a colossal failure.’


No doubt, congressional Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell appreciate Plouffe’s faux concern for their political prospects.

But if they’re smart -- often a dangerous assumption when it comes to Washington -- listen for them to publicly pray in coming days that their party might conceivably be able, if everything goes just right, you know, to possibly eke out a gain of 25, maybe 32, seats in the House and two or three in the Senate. That would be a super victory worthy of a real Thanksgiving celebration. Trust them.

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz used to employ this strategy before every week’s game. His collegians could be playing South Bend Central, but he’d make his boys out to be pitiful underdogs racked by injuries and that high school team sound like an athletic juggernaut to rival George Halas’ Bears. Please, merciful Lord, just grant us a tie.

Now, add this to your own list of political expectations: These final few days should be quite entertaining.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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