One more reason the Democrats may be toast this fall

By Bill Schneider
July 3, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

Democrats are apprehensive about this year’s midterm elections.

They should be.

Every indicator points to Republican gains in Congress. Two reasons are well known: President Barack Obama’s unpopularity and the historical record of midterm elections, when the president’s party almost always loses seats.

The third major reason is the two-four-six rule. Those are the different base years for different offices: two years for the House of Representatives, four years for most governors, six years for the Senate. These base years dictate how vulnerable each party is.

Here’s how it works: House members last faced the voters two years ago, in 2012, when Obama won re-election. With Obama’s strong voter turn-out, Democrats gained eight House seats. In the 2014 midterms, however, with their expected older and whiter electorate and Obama’s low poll numbers, Democrats are facing a tough November.

McConnell, Reid and Boehner lock arms and sing during a ceremony to award posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in WashingtonTurning to the Senate, 33 of the 36 seats being fought over in November were last up in 2008 — when Obama first took the White House in a stunning victory. Democrats picked up eight Senate seats.  (The other three Senate races are special elections for partial terms.)

When a party picks up seats, as Democrats did in the Senate in 2008 and the House in 2012, the gains tend to occur in swing states and districts. The party has difficulty defending those seats the next time they are on the ballot. That may be particularly true now since the president’s popularity has dropped to 41 percent and shows no signs of recovering.

The vast majority of House districts are safe for one party or the other. They were designed to be safe. So far this year, according to five leading ratings sources, only 42 of 435 House seats look competitive. Democrats are defending 25 of the competitive seats, Republicans 17.  Which means that Democrats are likely to lose more House seats than Republicans.

As for the Senate, Republicans need to gain six seats to take over. Thirteen Senate races are rated as competitive. Eleven of those seats are currently held by Democrats, and two by Republicans. Seven of the 11 competitive Democratic Senate seats are in states that the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried in 2012 (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia).  Those states are not friendly territory for Democrats. Neither are Georgia and Kentucky, the two competitive Republican seats. Democrats are right to be worried.

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner listens during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in WashingtonGovernors are the one bright spot for Democrats this year. Almost all governors are elected for four-year terms, most in midterm years. The base year for governors is 2010, a Republican landslide. The GOP picked up six statehouses. There are 36 governors up this year. Fourteen governors’ races are rated as competitive — of which nine currently have Republican governors. Six of those GOP governors are in Obama states: Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Several of those states are presidential battlegrounds. (Florida! Ohio!) Having governors in office will boost Democratic prospects in 2016. Moreover, if, as is likely, Washington remains gridlocked, more and more policy initiatives will shift to the states.

If Obama is stymied during the last two years of his term by a hostile Republican Congress, you can expect to see Democratic governors increasingly take the initiative on Medicaid expansion, minimum wage hikes, same-sex marriage, voting rights and climate change.

The tables will turn in 2016, though. Senate seats up in 2016 were last up in 2010 — a banner Republican year. Republicans will be defending 24 Senate seats in 2016, Democrats just 10.  Six of the Republican seats are in states Obama carried in 2012. All the 2016 Democratic Senate seats are in Obama states. If Republicans take the Senate this year, they’re going to have a tough time keeping it in 2016.

The two-four-six rule that dooms Democrats in 2014 may just save them in 2016.

 

PHOTO (TOP): President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

PHOTO (INSERT 1): (L-R) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lock arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” during a ceremony to award posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King, at the Capitol in Washington, June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Erns

PHOTO (INSERT 2): House Speaker John Boehner listens during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

 

22 comments

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Americans have short memories, it would seem.

Posted by brathor | Report as abusive

I think this is what GOP candidates thought the last two times as well.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Low poll rating is emblematic of the enthusiasm in our political debate and the pernicious gridlock in our political system. Obama’s poll rating compared to the Republican or Congress is still appreciable. Neither of the party will benefit from this low poll rating, except the party in the White House is made a scape goat because of its visibility. What Obama and the Democrats need is to set up a tuft war around the issues of immigration, women, income inequality, and force Republican to fight around these issues.

Posted by 0okm9ijn | Report as abusive

The Republican house (as a whole) is viewed less favorably than Obama in all legitimate polls. However, the Republicans will increase their advantage in the House. This is due to factors that should have nothing with the election, but will instead be dominant.
1) Gerrymandering
2) Voter suppression laws – even when overturned, they still keep huge numbers from voting because of uncertainty
3) Tuesday elections – having elections on Tuesdays has always been a significant factor in lowering US voter turnout. Democrats depend on hourly workers who lose pay if they vote or more often cannot leave their jobs. They must stand in long lines after work in many precincts and miss dinner and family time to vote.
4) Obviously no presidential election lowers turnout. This is the factor that is mentioned most in the press, but not nearly as significant as 1) and 2).

Posted by QuietThinker | Report as abusive

“One more reason the Democrats may be toast this fall”

Correction: “Democrats WILL be toast this fall”

Posted by Nagant | Report as abusive

“It is the economy, stupid”

Unemployment Lowest Since Lehman Collapse

Dow closes over 17,000

Posted by Leftcoastrocky | Report as abusive

4 months is a long time. Weather, the random terror attack/natural disaster (and response), as well as our old friend, scandal, could all topple the cart. QuietThinker is right, of course, about Tuesday voting, gerrymandering and voter suppression, but those were just as true in 08. The Democrats’ best chance is turn ’14 into a national election, with women’s issues front and center: the Hobby Lobby vote, family leave are winners for Team Obama.

Posted by Bagehot | Report as abusive

No self-respecting citizen of even moderate intelligence would entertain voting Republican anymore. This article is as nonsensical as the thoroughly unenlightened dogma that babbles forth from those non-thinking slaves.

A pig is a pig; you know who you are.

Posted by Nurgle | Report as abusive

“It is the economy, stupid”
2.9% GDP contraction in Q1.
Prices at gas stations and in supermarkets more than twice what they were on the day Obama set his foot in the White House. Pay for everyone, except those privileged to be union members or upper management, stagnated, or actually went down.
Obamacare is a miserable failure.
Dow closing? An artificial number benefiting that proverbial top 1%, but meaningless for the middle class.
No self-respecting citizen of even moderate intelligence would entertain voting Dem anymore.

Posted by Nagant | Report as abusive

I certainly hope not. I’m going to do everything I can to get everyone I know to the polls, especially the women. Our nation cannot afford to have the Republicans performing any significant role in our government. It’s going to take awhile to fix the SCOTUS bench but I am hoping we can retake the House this time around.

Posted by CincinnatiMark | Report as abusive

Conventional wisdom in unconventional times. Like the turkey who saw the sun come up and the farmer feed it 364 days in a row. Then it was Thanksgiving. Pundit predictions should always be taken with large lashings of soy sauce.

Posted by hamakkojlm | Report as abusive

They all need to go if the US citizens want to get their country back and term limits need to be put in place. It is ridiculous that these people have been in the Congress and/or Senate for 40 years. They have lost touch with reality and let power go to their heads. The US citizens have not held them accountable for their actions or rather inaction so we only have ourselves to blame.

Posted by BenSEAL108 | Report as abusive

We have creepy politicians in both parties..corruption not party affiliation is the problem as anyone who really is honest knows.

Posted by mkhunt | Report as abusive

It’s been 6 years of reasonable politics. People must get bored with that.

Okay, Guantanamo is still open and incarcerating, possibly torturing innocent (until proven guilty by a court)people. Okay, the Lloyd Blankfeins and Co. are still earning billions without ever being called up for their crimes (e.g. bringing down the world economy).

But all in all it was fairly calm sailing the last 6 years. We can’t go on like this.

Posted by Rhino1 | Report as abusive

@Bagehot
You said “QuietThinker is right, of course, about Tuesday voting, gerrymandering and voter suppression, but those were just as true in 08.” My remarks were meant to be about elections for the House of Representatives. The most significant factor for the House is gerrymandering. There has been a considerable increase in gerrymandering since then. The Democrats won the overall popular vote for the House of Representatives in 2012, yet Republicans had a solid victory in the number of seats.

On reading my own post, I see that I forgot another factor:
5) Citizens United and under the table funding

I see local Tea Party candidates reporting the same or much less funding than their opponent and somehow spending 3 to 4 times what their opponent spends.

Posted by QuietThinker | Report as abusive

It will be great to have a system like companies have. Employers review the employees’ performances; if negative, employees are fired. By now obama would have been fired. Congress must have a system like that in place to fire presidents who do not respect laws and do not perform.

Posted by Brnt | Report as abusive

Bill Schneider’s predictions may hold true. I’m trying so hard not to give up on this country, but it’s getting very hard to do. All of the following has taken place since Obama became President: The stock market is at a record high; US companies are raking in record profits; unemployment has fallen to 6.1%; the number of Americans with health coverage has increased by millions; as we wind down our involvement in Afghanistan the US will no longer be engaged in any major military conflicts; the US has overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s #1 oil and natural gas producer; we haven’t had a single terrorist attack on US soil; the man behind the 9/11 attacks has been killed. All this without any help from the Republicans. In fact, they’ve done more to impede our recovery than to help it. Yet the Republicans stand to gain seats in the House and the Senate. It makes absolutely no sense. Apparently, brain dead Americans have forgotten what the Republicans gave us when they were in control of the House, the Senate, and had the Presidency. They were a complete and utter disaster. What is wrong with Americans? Are we really that stupid? I guess we deserve to fail.

Posted by carnivalchaos | Report as abusive

[…] One more reason the Democrats may be toast this fall […]

hopefully all incumbents will be toast next election.

it’s time to send a message:
enough with the ego-maniac politics already, do you job!

Posted by Breadie | Report as abusive

President Obama is large and in charge.
Your opinions so far are way off. reuters is out of bounds with
vicious opinions against the President.
He will get the immigration in to a better prospective.
Like he did with the economy and the jobs report at 6.1%
thank you , a concerned Progressive.

Posted by eyeofnewt | Report as abusive

@QuietThinker
And the Democrats took the House and Senate in 08, but I see your point. Gerrymandering is largely responsible for the often hilarious pretzels that pass for districts. And, no, you can’t gerrymander a whole state, or the country (which might explain why the GOP has lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential contests). For the GOP it’s voter fraud, for the Democrats, money: in the end, each side will find something to blame when their candidate fails. Don’t pencil in a Tea Party walk-over just yet: when these wingnuts start bloviating about women, race and war, people will take the hint.

Posted by Bagehot | Report as abusive

Democrats have some serious problems. The world hates the US even more than they did under Bush, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are devolving into anarchy, it’s plainly evident that Obamacare is a complete disaster, the public is mad as hell that da gubmint is reading their tweets, vast hordes of young people have given up looking for jobs, and the one part of the economy doing well–large, entrenched, politically-connected corporations–is the part the Dems have made so much hay talking smack about for decades.

That said, I agree with the guy(s) saying we should throw all the bums out. Republicans haven’t exactly been paragons of personal liberty and fiscal responsibility lately and a statist RINO is no better than a statist Democrat. The country will continue to slide toward feudalism as long as both major parties are allowed to play the lesser-evil card.

Posted by CppThis | Report as abusive

its hard to tell the difference between a Demopublican and a Repocrat..they feed in the same trough on K street.

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

[…] setting them up for a rough year in 2014 (you can see Bill Schneider making all three arguments here). In this article, I’ll briefly discuss all three explanations, and then add a […]

[…] setting them up for a rough year in 2014 (you can see Bill Schneider making all three arguments here). In this article, I’ll briefly discuss all three explanations, and then add a […]