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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones ...

As I have written before, that assessment was made not in 2010 but in April  2009, 18 months before the November midterm elections, and it was accurate at the time. When it started to become clear that the nature of the election cycle was changing, my assessment changed.

By mid-July 2010, my assessment was for “substantial” GOP House gains in the order of 28 to 33 seats. And by late October, I was projecting a Republican blowout.

Right before Election Day, the Rothenberg Political Report projected Republican gains of 55 to 65 seats, among the most accurate of projections.

Politico reporters and editors know that or should know that. Printing that “update” from an unnamed “colleague” — it’s unclear whether it was a colleague of Woodhouse or of the Politico reporter — was atrocious journalism.

Politico likes to stir the pot, trying to create controversy, and when I declined to fire back at Woodhouse, it apparently decided to pour gasoline on what was the smallest of fires. It’s the way the paper operates, unfortunately.

Interestingly, Woodhouse distributed a memo dated July 15, 2010 — less than four months before the midterms — suggesting that 2010 would be very different from 1994 or 2006, when strong political waves shifted the control of Congress.

After citing a variety of poll numbers, Woodhouse argued that Democrats were positioned “to win close races across the country and to maintain strong majorities in both the House and the Senate.” Politico did not note that memo nor that “prediction.”

Woodhouse wasn’t the only high-
profile person to attack me over the North Carolina column. A similar attack came from Rush Limbaugh.

That’s right, one column generated attacks from the communications director of the DNC and from the conservative talk-show host/bomb-thrower.

Limbaugh has attacked me before, including using my April 2009 column to argue that I am “biased, ignorant, [and] blew 2010 calls.”  He also didn’t note that my assessments changed throughout the cycle as polling showed the electorate’s mood evolving.

This time, Limbaugh, who recently said that he’d want Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke to post a video of herself having sex “so we can all watch,” attacked me for allegedly being disappointed that North Carolina is a mess for Democrats.

Of course, I never said that, because I never take partisan sides. But to Limbaugh, and to people like Woodhouse, there is no neutral ground, no dispassionate analysis. Everything is driven by ideology or partisanship. Everything is about confrontation. For me, that’s one of the least appealing things about politics — and about political coverage — these days.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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