Democrats view their political prospects in the 2012 elections as improved, following a surprise victory in a U.S. House race this week and the killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid authorized by President Barack Obama this month.

National party leaders took a victory lap in Washington yesterday, continuing to spotlight Kathy Hochul’s May 24 special election win in a traditionally Republican western New York district as a sign of changing political fortunes.

“We are seeing an incredible change of our map that we didn’t expect five months ago,” Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said yesterday. “It’s changing, and it’s changing dramatically.”

Dave Wasserman, House political editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington, cautioned that a lot could change before Nov. 6, 2012.

“The Democrats have had a good month,” he said. “But this isn’t necessarily what we are going to be talking about in November 2012.”

Special elections, he said, rarely prove to be precise predictors of broader electoral trends. Republicans lost a special election for a Pennsylvania House seat in May 2010, six months before posting their sweeping gains in November.

Continue reading →