There are a couple of patterns that I've noticed over the last few years. First, no matter what happens, the RNC and their footsoldiers tell us how good it is for the Republicans and President Bush and how bad it is for Democrats. Over and over again, we're told to expect poll bumps because of so-and-so development, and the stenographic traditional media passes it on uncritically. The latest example is the Lamont victory in CT. By embracing the "loony-left," the argument goes, the Democrats have married defeatism and shown their true terrorist-appeasing colors. I can't wait for Joe himself to start parroting that line - it's right up his alley.
The second thing is that whatever statement they make about the Democratic Party, the opposite is true. We all remember this National Review cover:Well now we find out that the person Rove most feared was Dean, because of Dean's clear opposition to the Iraq War, which wasn't going as well as the Republicans had hoped for (to put it mildly). (Doh! I read that about Dean this morning, and now I can't find the reference. I guess this makes me a fact-free blogger from this moment forward. Sigh. I fought it so hard.)
This is an advanced psychological technique called reverse psychology, and I've been using it to win Risk games since I was eight. There's nothing like manipulating an ally into backstabbing you while holding 45 armies worth of reserves in the cards.
Actually, this second strategy is also at work with the Lamont victory.
Ah. Here's a DailyKos article chronicling this pattern with multiple examples. I didn't have time to do that research anyway.