One way to focus is to look at the President anyway, like The Washington Post with: "White House Upbeat About GOP Prospects: Self-Assurance of Bush, Rove and Others Is Not Shared by Many in the Party."
The official White House line of supreme self-assurance comes from the top down. Bush has publicly and privately banished any talk of losing the GOP majorities, in part to squelch any loss of nerve among his legions. Come January, he said last week, "We'll have a Republican speaker and a Republican leader of the Senate."Public expressions of confidence. Okay. Isn't that exactly what you'd expect? Or is this really another one of these occasions to get exercised about delusions? This is another boring article about the election. In a desperate attempt to spice it up, WaPo collects quotes from Chuck Schumer, who's always got something quotesy to say:
The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence -- based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command -- or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.
"The bottom line is that people are tired of the president and his policies, and he has been unable to escape it."...All right, let's switch to the New York Times. Its main article is "Democrats Have Intensity, but G.O.P. Has Its Machine." (In the paper NYT, the word "Fervor" replaces "Intensity.") Here, the focusing concept is the party. When it's not a presidential year, you lack the big human personalities, but you can try to talk about the two parties as big personalities. I've been hearing this sort of talk in personal conversations, and I've found it stereotypical for Democrats to express the idea you see in that headline.
"Most candidates don't want to show up in public with him, and those that do are embarrassed... If Bush were popular, these races would not be close."
This article mainly uses quotes from some voters, like the angry 89-year-old Clif Kelley. I Google "Clif Kelley" and come up with this NYT article from the '04 election, by the same journalist, Robin Toner! Both articles begin with the words "Clif Kelley, a retired economist...."
Here's the gist of the article:
Two major factors drive the Democratic intensity, analysts say: anger about the war in Iraq and other Bush administration policies, and optimism about their chances this year....So the big question is which of these two aggregated personalities -- Democrat or Republican -- feels more like voting. The Democratic entity is motivated, but the Republican entity could rouse itself if it starts to think the Democratic entity might take over Congress.
The flip side to the Democrats’ optimism, of course, is that the prospect of Democratic control is a powerful motivator for many Republicans.
There's a danger -- assuming you want the Democrats to win -- to writing about how passionate, angry, and energized the Democrats are, since the picture of passionate, angry, energized Democrats is one thing that gets Republicans passionate, angry, and energized. You want them to stay placid if not depressed and remorseful, don't you?