A couple of weeks ago, I called a senior Democratic strategist to ask for their assessment of the evolving political environment. Since May, said this person, "we've gone from fairly hopeless to notably competitive."

At some level, that's a pretty obvious statement. After all, both sides acknowledge that the political headwinds battering the Democrats have gone from hurricane force to a more manageable tropical storm level. What was setting up to be a 'typical' midterm election, with the focus squarely focused on the unpopularity of a first-term president, thanks in large part to historic levels of inflation and economic anxiety, has been upended by an unpopular Supreme Court decision regarding abortion and the continued presence of the polarizing former president. In other words, for the first time that any of us can remember, a midterm election has become more than just a referendum on the person and party in the White House.

However, it's also an important perspective on just how much we don't know. "Notably competitive" is not "confidently ahead" or even "comfortably positioned." It's an acknowledgement

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