National Review Online

The February 18th Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer is seeking re-election. Under the bland title “U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer files papers to run for reelection,” Seema Mehta explains, “The Democrat faces a tough battle amid an anti-incumbent backlash.”

Is what Sen. Boxer really faces an “anti-incumbent” backlash? Hardly. The Politico describes the current political terrain as seen by the famed (and non-partisan) Charlie Cook. The Politico reports:

“Highlighting the GOP’s continued momentum, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report made ratings changes in 25 House races Thursday, all of which favor Republican candidates….

The respected political publication now rates 54 Democratic-held seats in the most highly competitive category – with 26 of them either pure tossups or favoring the Republican candidate. The publication rates 95 Democratic seats in total as potentially vulnerable – over one-third of the entire caucus. …

Republican members who began the election cycle in a highly vulnerable position appear to be in better shape. …And the list of Democratic targets continues to expand…”

So the Cook Report sees a growing number of vulnerable, incumbent Democrats and a shrinking number of vulnerable, incumbent Republicans. It’s clear that it’s not the “incumbent” label that voters are lashing against, but one party label: Democrat.

Not surprisingly, a Nexis search of the L.A. Times found no use of the term “anti-incumbent backlash” in 2006, the year the Democrats took over control of Congress. “Anti-Republican” or “Anti-GOP” showed up 13 times.