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The aspiring majority

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A new Gallup poll for USA Today asks voters to envision life with a Democrat-run Congress.  Strong majorities expect "a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq" and an increase in federal income taxes.  Channeling yesterday's First Read, analysts tell the paper that "Democratic leaders would need to take care not to overreach." 

Bloomberg talks to Democratic strategists about what they see as "their party's key to victory: Making the election a referendum on [Bush], his supporters and the war in Iraq, rather than about local concerns and individual races between candidates."  Democrats aren't offering a "detailed agenda.  Even some Republicans think specifics might no longer be needed."  

The Los Angeles Times looks at the "phalanx of unusually conservative Democratic candidates who may deliver crucial victories over GOP incumbents and help their party win control of the House," and suggests it belies Republican claims that a Democrat-run Congress would be a bastion of liberals.  The story also suggests that having "so many conservative-leaning candidates at the forefront of the Democratic effort" is one reason why Pelosi "has... stuck to a minimalist agenda that steers clear of grand, liberal ambitions."  More: "With more conservative Democrats in the House, President Bush could have a new opening to reach across the aisle.  But so far, he shows no signs of preparing to do so." 

The Wall Street Journal looks at how the migration of non-Southerners to Southern and Border South states is "raising Democratic hopes that some parts of the South may no longer be as monolithic in their support of the Republican Party and may be more accepting of African-American candidates."  Zeroing in on Ford, of course, the story notes, "The real test will come on Nov. 7.  Polls have often shown African-American candidates scoring well in the polls only to fail to clinch the election." 

House Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman yesterday released an analysis showing that Bush Cabinet officials have taken 125 trips to over 300 locations aboard private jets, helicopters, and other aircraft at taxpayer expense.  Waxman urged Bush budget director Rob Portman "to impose a moratorium on this luxury travel."  "The total cost to the taxpayer of the travel aboard private aircraft by cabinet secretaries and agency heads since 2001 is more than $1.5 million," per the release.  Waxman's announcement, of course, comes right when Bush Cabinet officials are again being deployed to campaign for GOP candidates in the midterm elections.