Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cohn on 2014 Mid-Terms

Nate Cohn weighs the chances of a GOP wave in this fall's mid-term election in The New York Times.

Republicans entered this election cycle with high hopes. President Obama’s approval ratings had sunk into the low 40s, and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act had been an unmitigated disaster. In an off-year election, Democrats weren’t expected to fully mobilize the young and diverse coalition that has given them an advantage in presidential elections. Off-years are also when a president’s party typically suffers significant losses.
But as July turns to August, the G.O.P. is now on the clock. If there is to be a wave this November, the signs of a shift toward the G.O.P. ought to start to show up, somewhere, soon. Every day that goes by without a shift toward the G.O.P. increases the odds that there will not be a wave at all.

Part of it might come from the unpopularity of the Republican Party. The G.O.P. is less popular today than it was in 2010, when G.O.P. favorability ratings increased and Democratic ratings faltered in advance of the midterms. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings might also be deceptive: They’re mainly low because of minimal support from Republican leaners, not because Mr. Obama has lost an unusual amount of ground among his own supporters.

Another part might be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has faded from the forefront of the news. Whatever the public’s view of the law, it is clear that it will not be as potent an issue as Republicans hoped it would be. Similarly, the economy and the deficit are both in a better place than they were in 2010.

But if a wave doesn’t materialize, and if Republicans don’t post victories in Democratic-tilting states like Iowa or Colorado, it will be hard to consider 2014 a great year for Republicans. That will be true even if they take the Senate by taking advantage of a favorable map. The Republicans don’t need more evidence of their ability to win with low Democratic turnout in states like Louisiana and Alaska heading into 2016. Fortunately for the G.O.P., there are still more than three months to go.

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