How do you steal an election in which the polls show an overwhelming advantage for your opponent? First, you must create a narrative that explains the theft. In the close elections of 2002, 2004, and 2006 small explanations, or in 2004, NO explanations were all that were required. But the polls are currently showing wide leads for many Democrats. Therefore, it’s time to start seeding the public for possibly mind-numbing differences between the polls and the count. Mike Allen and James Carney of Time and GOP strategist Ken Mehlman get to work. Emphasis added.

The polls keep suggesting that Republicans could be in for a historic drubbing. And their usual advantage–competence on national security–is constantly being challenged by new revelations about bungling in Iraq. But top Republican officials maintain an eerie, Zen-like calm. They insist that the prospects for their congressional candidates in November’s midterms have never been as bad as advertised and are getting better by the day. Those are party operatives and political savants whose job it is to anticipate trouble. But much of the time they seem so placid, you wonder whether they know something.

They do. What they know is that just six days after George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, his political machine launched a sophisticated, expensive and largely unnoticed campaign aimed at maintaining G.O.P. majorities in the House and Senate. If that campaign succeeds, it would defy history and political gravity, both of which ordain that midterm elections are bad news for a lame-duck President’s party, especially when the lame duck has low approval ratings. As always, a key part of the campaign involves money–the national Republican Party is dumping at least three times as much into key states as its Democratic counterpart is–but money is only the start. “Panic results when you’re surprised,” says Republican National Committee (R.N.C.) chairman Ken Mehlman. “We’ve been preparing for the toughest election in at least a decade.”

Vigilance.

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