The Democratic Exodus: Not Entirely Terrible for Democrats

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Democrats don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Last night, in a string of just a few hours, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd all announced that they would not be running for reelection in 2010. Taken with the recent party-switch of Parker Griffith and a slew of other House retirements, it's clear that Democrats are increasingly wary of running in an blatantly hostile, anti-incumbent climate. But while Dorgan's surprise exit will make his seat difficult for Democrats to defend, Dodd's departure likely saved the party from defeat in Connecticut, meaning the senate math may not have changed at all. But that still doesn't mean the future for Democrats isn't a little bleaker today.

• Marc Ambinder says that, "from a micro perspective, the GOP gains nothing from today. From a macro perspective, anytime three major Democratic party figures retire...ain't good for that party." [Atlantic]

• Manu Raju and Josh Kraushaar, on the other hand, contend that "Democrats are now facing their bleakest election outlook in years — and the very real possibility the party will lose its 60-40 Senate supermajority after the November elections." [Politico]

• Chuck Todd and friends claim that the retirements "create the perception of political weakness" for President Obama, and signal "that many Democrats are reading the tea leaves and determining that this year is going to be difficult for their party." Though there are still six Republican senators retiring this year, the decisions of Dorgan, Dodd, and others "could convince other Democrats sitting on the fence to jump off." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Nate Silver suggests that "[i]t would be too convenient to suggest that Democrats are better off than they were 24 hours ago — although it's somewhat close." He gives Democrats an 80–90 percent chance of keeping their Connecticut seat but a 20–25 percent chance of keeping their North Dakota seat. [Five Thirty Eight]

• Ed Morrissey believes that while Dodd's departure will leave the GOP "punching at air just a little bit," because Dodd was expected to be such an easy target, the campaign won't be "futile" for the Republicans. [Hot Air]

• Rick Klein writes that this is "not a story of scattered red-state newbies worried about making a living: These are veteran Democrats making cold calculations about the next 10 months, and they’re not crazy about what they see looming in President Obama’s first mid-term year." [Note/ABC News]

• Mary Matalin blames Obama's agenda for creating "chronic walking pneumonia" in "[w]hat would have been in another environment a political head cold." [National Review]

• Michael Tomasky thinks "both announcements reflect how toxic the atmosphere in Washington in general and the Senate in particular has become." It sounds like Dorgan "just couldn't take it anymore." [Guardian UK]

• Amy Sullivan thinks that "[w]ith the probable exception of Dorgan, the moves give Democrats a chance to put stronger candidates in place while there's still time to raise the necessary funds and get a campaign operation going." [Swampland/Time]

• Chris Cillizza says Dodd's retirement should "should drastically increase Democrats' chances of holding the seat." [Fix/WP]

• Steve Benen says that "while Dorgan's retirement offers the GOP genuinely good news, Dodd's departure is the polar opposite — Republicans expected to beat Dodd in November, and their chances of flipping this seat just dropped considerably." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• A stunned Josh Marshall admits he "never completely understood just how Dodd — a seemingly untouchable figure in the Connecticut political firmament for decades — sort of out of the blue became unelectable." [TPM]

• Mike Memoli wonders "if this is a case of Democrats getting all their bad news out at once, or if there are other shoes still to drop." [Politics Nation/Real Clear Politics]