NRL News

Two analyses of where the fall elections are headed hit many of the salient points but not all

by | Apr 8, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

charliecookIt’s only early April and we’ve already been through a number of iterations predicting how Republicans and Democrats will fare this November. The consensus still remains that Republicans will retain control of the House, perhaps add a few seats, and have a real shot at making a net gain of six in the Senate which would give them control.

Charlie Cook and Thomas Edsall are respected political prognosticators. Let’s talk first about what Cook said a couple of days ago in “Democratic Senate Seats Might Prove Hard to Keep: Democrats should brace for the worst in the upcoming midterm elections—then hope to be pleasantly surprised.”

His argument can be boiled down to this:

“In the case of Democrats in 2014, it is not so much that they are weak politically—for the most part they aren’t—but rather that they are running in states that are very difficult for their party to hold. These seats only fell into Democratic hands in the first place when Obama was defeating John McCain in 2008. In 1986, Republican exposure was the weakness of the party’s incumbents; in 2014, Democrats’ weakness lies in the location of where their incumbents are running.”

Thomas Edsall

Thomas Edsall

Yes and no. Yes, there are states where Democrats who supported ObamaCare are in a heap of trouble. But, no, there are also incumbents who simply aren’t that strong to begin with. Running in “Red” states, with their embrace of ObamaCare wrapped around their ankles only adds to their difficulties.

Another important insight relates to the impact of ObamaCare. As we’ve posted here several times, there is an unspoken agreement (well, I assume it’s unspoken) between Obama and much of the “Mainstream Media” to pretend that Democrats have won out, now that the wholly arbitrary figure of 7 million people signing up for ObamaCare has been met. Cook observes

“Democrats are popping corks over ACA [ObamaCare] sign-ups hitting the 7 million mark, but consider that this figure is only a bit above 2 percent of the population, and that the 7 million figure may include a decent percentage of people who had coverage either through an employer or through a plan that was canceled. Pretending that the ACA is not going to be a liability this year would be ill-advised. Even considering that some people may like and benefit from the new law, the enthusiasm and intensity in this election is all on the Republican side, and that is very unlikely to change.”

And as we have noted, in reality the Obama Administration has not met the 7 million figure. And as we will note tomorrow, there are a fresh round of questions about ObamaCare—fresh in the sense that they are being articulated by the media, but stale in the sense that anyone who followed the debate knew the costs would soar and premiums would go through the roof.

In late March, Edsall asked, “How Strong Will the Anti-Democratic Backlash Be?” in an op-ed for the New York Times. It’s an interesting read, in no small part because Edsall asked for input from others who follow political trends closely.

What stands out to me is three-fold.

(1) A reminder how much the disastrous open enrollment roll out ( ) hurt the President and Democrats. Counting on the generic vote to shift back towards Democrats is dicey at best. (The generic vote refers to the outcome when without any names given, people are asked if they would vote for a Democrat or a Republican.)

(2) Given who tends to show up to vote in off-year elections (older, whiter), it wouldn’t take many more of the usual voters–complemented by a decline in those who voted in 2012 because Obama was on the ticket–for Republicans to do very, very well.

(3) Edsall writes, “Going largely unmentioned in most analyses is the inability of the Obama administration to markedly improve the economy, which could end up playing a big role in the unraveling of the Democratic Party’s electoral fortunes, not only in 2014 but also in 2016.” His point is that because of missteps by Republicans (sometimes egregiously so), Democrats have not had to pay the price for a sluggish economy.

You can read Cook’s analysis in its entirety at

Edsall’s piece can be found at

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Categories: Politics