Democrats and the press just as sure about midterms as they were in 2016

Well, surprise, surprise: Look what we have here, coming in from Texas:

A Republican candidate won an upset victory Tuesday night in the runoff for a Texas state Senate seat that had been held by Democrats for more than a decade.

Pete Flores (R), a conservative former leader of the state Parks and Wildlife Department's law enforcement division, won a surprise victory over Democrat Pete Gallego.

So much for the unstoppable blue wave.  Cripes, the Democrats are losing seats they thought were gimmes.  And here's some more good news for Republicans from Texas:

Incumbent Republican Ted Cruz has opened a 9-point lead in his high-profile U.S. Senate race against Democrat Beto O'Rourke, according to a poll released Tuesday. 

A survey of 807 likely voters by Quinnipiac University has Cruz with a lead of 54 percent to 45 percent over O'Rourke, the congressman from El Paso, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Nothing like a little mobilization of the voters after a Beto scare.  Ted did that, and now he's looking at nine points.

Meanwhile, here's some good news from California:

California's two candidates for governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox, will debate live in studio on KQED's Forum program at 10 a.m. on Oct. 8 – the first time they have shared a stage since before the June primary.

Up until then, Newsom had resisted any form of debate, a form of arrogance commonly seen in frontrunners with insuperable leads.  Maybe he noticed how Cox was creeping up on him in the polls – and how well turning his nose up at a debate worked out for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's long-incumbent opponent in New York.  New York's Rep. Joseph Crowley famously refused to debate Ocasio-Cortez, which, in light of her stupid post-victory statements since, might have been an easy takedown.  Bottom line: Newsom is on his backfoot.

Despite this barrage of promising pow! pow! pow! news for Republicans, the press is still in blue-waveville, calling a rout for Republicans in the upcoming midterms.  Look at what Axios's Mike Allen ran as his top three news picks for today, complete with a GIF graphic portraying an GOP elephant dripping a flood of tears:

1 big thing: Republicans are privately worried

2. Game change: Dems use tax cut against GOP

3. Exclusive poll: Majority believe Woodward, Anonymous

Does that sound like the world where Ted Cruz is up nine points in the polls, the GOP snatched a blue statehouse safe seat from the Democrats, and California's Gavin Newsom is clearly on his backfoot against the GOP's John Cox in the governor's race?  I really wonder.

There was the doom-and-gloom GOP internal poll that Rick Moran wrote about yesterday, and it does underscore the hard contest these midterms could be for Republicans.  But polls, as Jack Hellner points out today, have been notoriously wrong in the age of Trump.  What I sense now is some crazy overconfidence by the Democrats, slightly redolent of 2016, back when Democrats were convinced that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had it in the bag and woke up to the Mother of All Hangovers when President Trump won the election.

Two things are operative, and they are worth noting.

Mobilization matters, as Silvio Canto notes on the blog today, here.  The heavy surge of effort to back Ted Cruz against his Democratic opponent, Beto Rourke, seems to be now paying off.  And as Rick noted in his piece yesterday, complacency is actually the GOP's biggest enemy.

The flip-side is that we are seeing evidence of Democrat overconfidence, buttressed by an allied media.

What it says here is that nothing is set in stone, and if the Republicans want to consolidate the gains of their Trump revolution, it's perfectly doable.  They just need to take nothing for granted, as Democrats seem to be doing, and just get busy.

Image credit: Devins-stock via DeviantArt, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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