MICKEY KAUS says that Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is “whistling past the graveyard” on polling numbers. I don’t know if that’s right — I think that everyone, including me, expected Obama to be polling better at this point. The Bush Administration is unpopular, and the Republican Congress — witness Ted Stevens’ primary win — has been dreadful. Given that, it’s surprising that things are in a statistical tie.

On the other hand, elections are won by those who show up, and I think Plouffe is right that Democratic constituencies have more “fire in the belly” than Republican constituencies. What’ll be interesting is to see if Obama can keep Republicans from getting negative enough about his prospects to motivate them, while keeping Democrats motivated enough to sustain that edge — while McCain tries to do the opposite, of course. I suspect that turnout will be the deciding factor here, and reports seem to suggest that the Democrats have a better ground game. Will that be true? Stay tuned, I guess.

UPDATE: Reader David Ragsdale sends a correction:

Um…it’s actually a Democratic Congress now.

Or maybe you meant to write “The Republicans in Congress” …but given that it’s only been in the past few weeks that at least 50% of Americans know that the Democrats control Congress you should be more clear.

Yeah, I really meant the Republican delegation in Congress. I stand corrected.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Limebrook emails:

I hate pork nearly as much as you do, but I think you condemn Ted Stevens, and with him the politics of Alaska, without truly understanding the relationship between Alaskans and the federal government. The state is virtually owned by the federal government– I believe Nevada is the only state with more federal ownership– and Alaskans are pretty inured to having the feds run roughshod over them. I lived there from 1974 to 1984. The most salient event in turning me from a liberal into a libertarian was when James Earl Carter, unhappy with the state’s land claims after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, high-handedly turned vast swaths of the state into national monuments to punish Mike Gravel for his recalcitrance in accepting the fiats of an imperial government.

Alaskans are smart enough to know that, ignored as an electorate, they have to keep returning their representatives to Congress so that their seniority will eventually avail Alaskans of some political clout. If Stevens appears to you to be a dinosaur, well, he is, but there is method in his longevity. When the federal government, under the sway of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, routinely and without a second thought restricts the livelihoods of Alaskans in their own home, they willl fight back in the onlly way available to them. Alaskans feel that every dime they can wring out of the federal government is theirs by right.

Which brings us to the infamous “bridge to nowhere” whose $250 million price tag shocks you so. By the way, federal spending in Tennesee is over four times that on food stamps alone (http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?rgn=44&ind=25&cat=1. Bridges are expensive to build, and especially so in Alaska when the rust belt is not just up the river. As for it being a bridge to nowhere, did it ever occur to you that after it was built, it would be a bridge to somewhere? That little island would have become a place people where could live and without having to take their kids to school by boat in a snowstorm.

Thanks for letting me have my say.

You’re welcome, but I still think the arrogance and entitlement of Ted Stevens is both disgraceful in itself, and a blot on the honor of the Republicans. Trent Lott, after saying he was “damn tired” of the Porkbusters effort, has finally come around on the pork issue. Stevens hasn’t.