Plouffe: For GOP, anything short of sweep would be 'colossal failure'

By Anne E. Kornblut and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 7, 2010; 4:06 PM

Trying to reshape expectations for the midterm elections, David Plouffe said Thursday that the Republicans should be expected to make a full sweep of Congress - and key gubernatorial races - given the environmental advantages they have. Anything less, he said, should be seen as a disgrace.

"By their definition, success is winning back the House, winning back the Senate and winning every major governor's race," Plouffe, Obama's 2008 campaign manager, said. "When you've got winds this strong in your favor, that's the kind of election you need to have - or it should be considered a colossal failure."

Three weeks out, both parties are in a mad scramble to define what success would look like on Election Day. Although Republicans held a significant lead last month, it has appeared to narrow some, and whichever party winds up controlling Congress might do so by a narrow margin. Democrats would like to be considered winners if they merely hang on to the Senate, which some strategists in both parties expect them to do.

Plouffe, speaking to reporters at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, argued that Democrats are turning their trajectory around and are poised, 26 days out, to fare better Nov. 2 than it appeared they would last month.

But he said he expected Democrats to "show progress gradually," in contrast with Republicans who have "maxed out or close to it."

Plouffe, a key Democratic Party strategist, also embraced the tea party surge as a welcome development for the Democrats, calling it the "hijacking of the Republican Party."

kornbluta@washpost.com ruckerp@washpost.com

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