So…. just a few short weeks ago there was a series of smarty-pants articles by Poli Sci whizzes telling us there was no tsunami building for 2014 midterm. I even posted a brief commentary agreeing that they were probably right…
Quick disclaimer here before I change my mind completely: It is only March. There’s a LOT of time between now and November for, (1.) Republicans to get in their own way; (2.) World events to change the conversation; (3.) Public sentiment about O-Care to radically improve; (4.) The President’s favorables/trust #’s could somehow improve (see Item #1/2/3).
But the latest survey numbers combined with a GOP-favored map is pointing towards a wave of some size starting to build. Per NBC/WSJ numbers and a good write up from @mmurraypolitics shows some alarming news for D’s:
- “Obama’s job-approval rating has dropped to a low point of 41 percent, never a good position for the party controlling the White House;
- By a 33 percent to 24 percent margin, Americans say their vote will be to signal opposition to the president rather than to signal support, though 41 percent say their vote will have nothing to do about Obama;
- Forty-eight percent of voters say they’re less likely to vote for a candidate who’s a solid supporter of the Obama administration, versus 26 percent who say they’re more likely to vote for that candidate;
- And Republicans hold a one-point edge over Democrats on which party registered voters prefer to control Congress, 44 percent to 43 percent. While that’s within the poll’s margin of error, Republicans have traditionally fared well in elections when they’ve held a slight lead on this question.”
Now, these numbers should NOT be read as good ones for GOP. There is broad, deep dissatisfaction with Congress (of which GOP controls 1/2) and Washington in general. Voters want a Congress that will figure out how to get along and make progress… yet see no simple path for getting that done.
The GOP advantage is two-fold: First, voters seem to be increasingly losing trust in the Prez… this has been a slow build punctuated by indecision on Syria, the botched O-Care rollout and the ongoing general public’s discouragement over the lagging economy (and natural 2nd-term blues). Second, and perhaps more politically salient in ’14 is the election map that overwhelmingly is being played on ground the D’s have to defend.
In state after state, the GOP is finding better candidates to widen the playing field (Gardner, here in CO, is real-deal — he’s probably too right for a new-normal statewide election win… but this may not be a “normal” year; Scott Brown stepping over the border to run in NH this weekend and will make D’s spend $$ to defend Shaheen’s seat.)
GOP is emboldened, their grassroots has a huge enthusiasm advantage, the increasingly lame-duck President seems checked-out and pushed out by D’s, a lot of the D base (kids, minorities) don’t turn out for midterms…
All in all, it’s starting to feel like a wave is growing.
The House is a foregone GOP hold at this point… and the 6 seats needed for Senate is looking better and better every week for GOP takeover.
So what’s the problem for GOP? The numbers show if there’s going to be a ’14 wave, the crest will be all about anti-/weary Obama support and not a rush toward a GOP mandate for change. The numbers bear this out: voters still don’t like their GOP representatives… they just dislike anyone connected to the Prez even more. Voters think GOP is wrong on a whole series of issues… but just not as far off as their dislike for the Prez.
It was achingly painful to listen to DC talking heads/panel on Meet The Press this morning fretting about how our politics will get out of the gridlock in which we’re stuck.
Their inability to think outside of the beltway box stops them from seeing the political world except through Red/Blue goggles. “If we could just get a few bi-partisan wins…” they wishfully pundicize…
The answer could be a lot simpler. How about making elections more competitive and our representatives more responsive to ALL their constituents?
In district after district, in statewide elections and state legislatures, the power of incumbancy, gerrymandering and rigged primaries denies way too many representatives from being held accountable. When all you have to do is win your primary to win the general then your need to listen to, work with, represent is diminished to a tiny fraction of your constituency. How about we open up primaries to give majority Independents and other parties a voice and a choice during primary elections? Reform like independently drawn districts, open primaries with top two/IRV primaries will force representatives to campaign and listen to all of their constituents.
Now, this won’t help the President with his favorability anytime soon. But it would push a Congress into getting along using both carrots and sticks. It would open up statewide campaigns to force greater voice for centrists instead of ideological kooks (and mitigate the kookiness).
Most importantly, we could generate waves of support FOR candidates and causes that will move the country forward and lessen the negative tsunami-style crashes that will only lead to the next, inevitable wave crashing on the other side 2/4 years from now…