Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Wary of GOP Bounce

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) agreed, saying that while Republicans have presented Palin well, “when you peel back the package and see what’s underneath, people’s opinions are going to change.”

Congressional Democrats say they hope to spend the coming weeks helping paint the contrast between Obama and McCain by helping their Illinois colleague tell his story, while simultaneously trying to discredit McCain’s argument that he is the “maverick” candidate. Dorgan took a step in that direction Tuesday when he said that McCain trying to embrace an argument for change after three decades in Congress is “hardly credible.”

Menendez offered a similar assessment, saying: “At some point, the hypocrisy will become rather transparent. Our mission is to drive that reality, and say, ‘Look, the emperor has no clothes.’”

But Congressional Republicans say they aren’t worried about being trumped, at least with the latest polling snapshot giving them the first wave of momentum they’ve enjoyed since the presidential cycle began nearly two years ago. Even heading into the GOP convention, most Republicans acknowledged they were largely uninspired and feared an uphill climb against a newly energized Democratic Party.

“They were expecting a cakewalk,” said a senior Republican Senate aide. “Now they are finding that’s not the case. Instead, they’ve got a fight on their hands.”

Republicans are particularly buoyed by polling that shows new enthusiasm among voters for the GOP ticket, a major shift from just a few weeks ago when Democrats had a virtual lock on voter excitement. Republican lawmakers acknowledge that those numbers will likely level off as the November elections near but still say they sense a critical shift in their standing with the public.

“Republicans went in to the convention united, but they went out united and with enthusiasm,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said. “One has to wait another week to get a snapshot to know what the true effects were of the convention. Certainly, momentum is with the McCain campaign. The question is, can he hold on to it, and if can do it, he will win the next election.”

Even Sen. Gordon Smith (Ore.), a heavily targeted GOP incumbent this cycle, said he saw new life for his party in November. Smith, a moderate who has even run ads featuring his work with Obama, attributes much of the turnaround to Palin, who represents what he called “a genuineness that is contagious.”

“She’s reattached the Republican Party to its moorings,” he said.

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