TPM’s Senate Scoreboard today shows the Democrats gaining one seat out of this election cycle, though Republicans are trending the wrong way in the two big toss-ups at the moment (i.e. Nevada and Montana) and the one Repub-leaner in Arizona. Still, a net gain this year would be an astonishing outcome for Democrats, a sign of a clear rejection of Republicans’ philosophy around the country. As exemplified, of course, by Mitt Romney, who’s been a major drag on those races.

Keep this in mind when you read about Republicans fretting about whether to stop funding Romney and put the money into Senate races instead. This is putting the cart before the horse–the reason these candidates are failing is because of Mitt Romney’s awful campaign. If that campaign becomes starved for cash and starts to see defections, it will become even more of a drag on these candidates because they won’t be better able to respond to Obama’s campaign. At this point, I’m not sure whether that would be a desirable outcome–if Romney sinks too much, downballot Republicans might just abandon him entirely and do a triangulation sort of thing that could work in holding off losses. Recall, Democrats kept Congress despite McGovern’s loss in 1972 largely by this very strategy.

Which brings us to the debates. I’m torn between rooting for Romney to make a significant/disqualifying mistake, which I think is possible (e.g. losing his composure, attacking too hard, or trying too hard to be likable and coming off creepy), and between rooting for something that can plausibly be spun by Republicans as a victory (or, more likely, a “game-changing historic victory, the first time a president has been outdebated since Jimmy Carter…” and so on) but is actually just bland and unremarkable and accomplishes little. Admittedly, the catharsis of seeing Romney get pasted would be gratifying, but the risk of the party cutting him loose seems more likely under those circumstances. If Romney fights to a limp tie, nothing changes and we’re that much closer. That’s what I’m rooting for tomorrow.


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