This is, to be sure, exactly the meme Republicans want the media to embrace, and if the coverage this morning is any indication, political journalists seem anxious to comply.
But let’s add a little perspective here. Quick quiz: which party has more Senate retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans? Follow-up question: which party has more House retirements so far this campaign cycle, Democrats or Republicans?
If Dems are “dropping like flies,” the answer should be obvious. But it’s not — in both chambers, Republican retirements, at least for now, outnumber Democratic retirements.
In the House, 14 GOP incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while 10 Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Does this mean Republicans are “dropping like flies”?
In the Senate, six Republican incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while two Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Is this evidence of a mass Democratic exodus?
A cursory glance at the major news outlets writing about this story today bears out Steve’s conclusions, e.g.:
The grim outlook for Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections just got a little worse.
Four top Democrats — including veteran Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan — all prepared to pull the plug on their campaigns in a 24-hour period that began Tuesday, and in the process, offered an unnerving glimpse at the perilous election year ahead.
Adam Nagourney at the New York Times:
His announcement came less than 24 hours after another Democratic senator, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, also announced that he would not seek re-election in November. The developments underscored the fragility of the Democrats’ 60-vote Senate majority, which is just enough to block Republican filibusters. Democratic incumbents also face serious challenges in Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania among other states.
Ben Pershing at The Washington Post:
In quick succession Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the news came forth that Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter will announce that they are not running for reelection in 2010. All three men faced difficult races, and their decisions provided more evidence a Republican wave may be building that Democrats are scurrying to avoid.
In fairness, though, Pershing does add the following:
But the net gain from the revelations isn’t so clear, for while Dorgan’s move increased the odds of a GOP pickup in North Dakota, Dodd’s was actually bad news for Republicans in Connecticut. And Ritter’s decision may also give Democrats a better chance than they otherwise would have had in that contest.
and, as well, he links to Mark Blumenthal’s article in the National Journal arguing against the idea that Barack Obama is losing the support of his liberal base.