Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney's last "Political Memo" before the election, "For Buoyant Democrats, Even a Big Gain May Feel Like a Failure," dramatically lowers expectations for Democrats - expectations he himself raised in a front-page story just two days ago.
"For a combination of reasons - increasingly bullish prognostications by independent handicappers, galloping optimism by Democratic leaders and bloggers, and polls that promise a Democratic blowout - expectations for the party have soared into the stratosphere. Democrats are widely expected to take the House, and by a significant margin, and perhaps the Senate as well, while capturing a majority of governorships and legislatures.
"These expectations may well be overheated. Polls over the weekend suggested that the contest was tightening, and some prognosticators on Monday were scaling back their predictions, if ever so slightly. (Charlie Cook, the analyst who is one of Washington's chief setters of expectations, said in an e-mail message on Monday that he was dropping the words 'possibly more' from his House prediction of '20-35, possibly more.')"
"Overheated" "expectations" raised by Nagourney and other Times reporters.
Remember what Nagourney and Robin Toner wrote just this past Sunday: "In the Senate, Republicans girded themselves for what strategists from both parties described as the almost certain defeat of Senators Mike DeWine of Ohio and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. They said that Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was also probably headed for a loss....In what some senior Republican strategists said was something between a long-shot and a Hail Mary pass, Republicans were spending money in Michigan to defeat Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic incumbent, as well as in Maryland, hoping that black voters in the state would desert the Democratic Party and vote for Michael Steele, a black Republican running for an open seat....In the House, Democrats seem all but assured of picking up open Republican seats in Arizona, Iowa and Colorado, along with the Ohio seat of Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and stepped down on Friday."
Perhaps realizing he may have overreached on Sunday, Nagourney on Election Day morning tries to tamp down Democratic expectations: "So, what if Democrats just squeak to victory in the House by a seat or two? What if Democrats win just three seats in the Senate or - unlikely but not impossible - even two?"
Hopefully by tomorrow, the guessing game will be over, one way or the other.