Friday, October 24, 2014

Run, Democrats, Run

It's either going to be a huge victory for the Republicans are a major disappointment, as predictions now have the GOP with as many as 55 seats in the Senate.  It is hard to imagine a 10-seat turnover, but the Democrats left big openings with so many retirements, including Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and Max Baucus in Montana.  States not exactly friendly to Democrats.  All though, I will be glad to see Baucus go, as he was no friend to Democrats either, having tried to kill the Affordable Care Act in committee back in 2009, and was rewarded for his efforts by being named Ambassador to China.

This was apparently an attempt to give the Democrats a better chance of holding onto the Montana seat by having the Democratic governor appoint a replacement prior to the scheduled election.  Unfortunately, the little slight-of-hand gesture failed when John Walsh, the Democrat who took Baucus's seat, was run out of the election over plagiarism charges.  I see he also had his Master's degree rescinded. You can thank the New York Times, not Fox News, for breaking the story.

With so many Democratic seats on the line, it was going to be hard to hold onto the Senate, but it still seems that the Democrats can do so if they get out the vote between now and November 4, thanks to highly contentious governors' races.  In very few races does the leading Congressional candidate have more than 50 per cent of the projected vote, which leaves the seat still open as far as I'm concerned.  Real Clear Politics has 9 seats still considered toss-ups, and two "leaning GOP." To get to 55 the GOP would have to win all nine of those toss-ups.  As it is, they have to win 5 out of 9 to gain a clear majority.  However, controversial Republican governors appear to be dragging the GOP down in key states like North Carolina and Kansas.

The Democrats dug this hole for themselves by once again failing to set the narrative in these midterm elections.  They had the perfect opening late last year, when the GOP engineered a shutdown of government and failed to get any of their conditions met in a Senate compromise bill.  Then came the Spring numbers on the health insurance exchanges, which clearly favored the Democrats, but for some odd reason the Democrats haven't made the Affordable Care Act an issue in these midterms.  Nor did Dems stress that premium rate increases have been lower than expected.  Economic figures also favor the Democrats, but once again you see the GOP pushing tax cuts and deeper austerity measures, with Democrats doing little to defend the current numbers.  As a result, misinformed John Q. Public is leaning Republican.

Obama is at his lowest approval rating, largely because of the media over-inflating ISIS and Ebola, which the Republicans have seized on down the stretch, trying to get voters to forget about the positive job numbers, the success of "Obamacare" and the ever-decreasing annual budget deficit, all issues they were initially going to stress in these midterms.

Democrats haven't done themselves any favors by playing right into the hands of the Republicans by criticizing their own President.  Mark Udall appears headed for defeat in Colorado after all his bluster about how he is "the last person [the White House] wants to see coming."  He made a complete ass of himself on CNN.

While GOP candidates stick to the party's talking points, the Democratic candidates wander all over the place, often sticking their feet in their mouths.  Alison Lundergan Grimes has been a prime example of this, but the dissatisfaction with McConnell is so great in Kentucky that surprisingly she still has a chance to win.

Rather than making themselves prey to questions like whether they voted for Obama, they should be stressing the accomplishments during his administration, all of which the Republicans fought tooth and nail to defeat but failed, notably "Obamacare."  Sadly, the Democrats have let the Republicans off the hook, particularly in Red States, where Democrats seem to feel more comfortable running away from the President, despite Congress being far more unpopular than Obama in the minds of voters.

Obama isn't making it easy for beleaguered Democratic candidates, stressing his accomplishments where he is invited to join campaigns, but even here the press points to all those who left early, and not all those who were waiting outside to get a glimpse of the President, as it was standing room only inside.  Obama also made a nice little retort to Udall's claim, by noting that Democrats voted with him on all the major legislation that was passed these last 6 years.

The Democrats had the chance to set the narrative not once, not twice, but three times, yet failed each time.  Now they have to pay the consequences.  It is too bad for the President, as he has done all he can do defending his policies.  Alas, he has faced a very unfriendly media that simply refuses to acknowledge his accomplishments, and seems as giddy as the Republicans in the major turnover they have forecast for the Senate.  I can already see CNN's John King gloating over all those blue states turned red on his big screen, as he did in the 2010 midterm elections.

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