In The Washington Monthly a few days ago, Curtis Gans -- who's been analyzing voting patterns since the 1960s -- argued that there could actually be a Democratic wave in the 2014 elections. If this is going to happen, Gans says, we'll see it coming based on three signs:
Despite current conventional wisdom, such an election is not only possible but probable, but only if three signals occur - if September polls, the polls taken when people are paying attention to the upcoming election, show a substantial improvement in Obama's approval rating and an equally substantial increase in public support of the Affordable Care Act, and if the economy does not relapse into recession.Well, I know it's a long way from September, but unfortunately, those numbers right now are headed in the wrong direction:
Republicans are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year's midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows.To be specific, Obama's approval/disapproval numbers are at 41%/51%, down from 46%/47% in the same poll in January. The numbers on his handling of the economy are at 38%/57%, down from 41%/53% in January. The percentage of respondents who think the health care law "needs to be repealed entirely" is at 42%, up from 34% in January.
... 42 percent say they will back Republicans in November, and 39 percent indicate that they will back Democrats....
There is a sense of foreboding in the public as well, with ... 57 percent indicating that they disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy....
One issue, though -- the Affordable Care Act -- seems to have solidified some opposition to Democrats....
Mr. Obama's approval rating is now at 41 percent, with 51 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his performance, his worst standing in the past two years, with the exception of a CBS News survey last November in the midst of the troubled rollout of the new health care law. Such ratings amount to an early political alarm for Democrats on the ballot this year....
Oh, and here's the frightening thing, not just for 2014, but for the future:
The independents in the poll -- a majority of whom were white or male or under age 45 -- continued to sour on President Obama's job performance.Oh, great. We've all been thinking, "Yeah, there's a huge gender gap, especially when it comes to white men, but that's going to disappear when all those racist, homophobic old Fox viewers die off." Um, maybe not. The young are a lot less racist and homophobic, but independent in this poll disapprove of Obama by a 54%/36% margin, and disapprove of his handling of the economy 62%/31% (maybe because the under-45s are unemployed, broke, and indebted); 45% of them think the health care law should be repealed (though 49% think it should be improved).
What could turn this around for the Democrats? They could be pushing an increase in the minimum wage -- me, I'd like to see as many votes or a minimum wage increase in the Senate as there have been Obamacare repeal votes in the House -- but Harry Reid is holding back, because some Senate Democrats are idiots:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday delayed action on legislation raising the minimum wage, the centerpiece of the Democrats' 2014 agenda.Dear Democratic idiots: In the Times/CBS poll, a minimum wage increase to $10.10 is favored 65%/33%; it's favored by 62% of independents and even 42% of Republicans.
The Nevada Democrat made the surprising move amid escalating Democratic resistance in the wake of a Congressional Budget Office report released last week estimating that hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could cost the equivalent of 500,000 jobs by late 2016.
... Of the 55 senators who caucus with the Democrats, only 32 have signed on as official co-sponsors of Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-Iowa) bill....
Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the chamber's most vulnerable incumbent, has said he does not support the legislation....
Other Democrats up for reelection who have not co-sponsored the Harkin measure include Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mary Landrieu (La.)....
I also fault Democrats for not doing a better job of explaining why Washington is so dysfunctional. I know that Beltway insiders reach for the smelling salts every time a Democrat actually blames Republicans, but polls show that the public blames Republicans, so just say it, Democrats. Don't give mushy, rhetorically empty answers like this one, from Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes:
The Washington Post: You talked a lot about the partisan gridlock and dysfunction that you see in Washington. I know you were talking about Sen. McConnell and the congressional Republicans, but I'm wondering if you think President Obama shares any of that blame – if the environment in Washington is at all because of him or his approach or his policies, too.Are there any cliches she skipped? Why not point fingers at Republicans, Alison? You're running against a guy who said his top priority was making Obama a one-term president. And he's now regarded as a moderate Republican! Why are Democrats terrified of partisanship when there's no downside for Republican partisanship?
Alison Lundergan Grimes: As we saw, especially with the filibuster reform, there is enough finger-pointing to go around for a lifetime with what has occurred in Washington, D.C. But Kentuckians are tired of the finger-pointing. They want somebody that actually comes up with a pathway forward as to how they're going to have faith again in the future of Kentucky and the promises of being an American and being able to grow the middle class. That's what our campaign is about. It's not the blame game and the finger-pointing that Mitch McConnell has become a master at. It's actually making sure that we're tackling the problems of the people of the state.
Yeah, I know. I'm supposed to be happy this morning. I'm supposed to be doing the Snoopy dance of joy because Jan Brewer vetoed that anti-gay bill. It's good news. But here's what I'm thinking:
Can't we just skip to where gay marriage and weed are legal and focus some energy on creating jobs by keeping bridges from falling down?— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) February 26, 2014
Let's not celebrate Jan Brewer too much. Her veto wasn't brave, unless listening to large corporations is now courageous.— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) February 27, 2014
The one thing I don't want to hear is that "Republicans really shot themselves in the foot again." No, they didn't. America will forget all about this by November -- hell, America will probably forget all about this by next week. Remember when last fall's government shutdown was going to doom Republicans in 2014? It's four months later and most of America forgot all about the shutdown three months ago. Or four.
Why? Because Republicans are better at sustaining anger than Democrats are; also, because Republicans generate and promulgate a hundred stories damaging to Democrats for every one Democrats generate. We had a few days of zone-flooding with this story, but Republicans keep the zone flooded much more of the time. When that changes, I'll stop being so gloomy about the prospects of Democrats.
And finally, we have to look at what Republicans have done in the Obama years as an embargo. The U.S. government places an embargo on Cuba or Iran in the hope that the economic hardship will put pressure on the government -- and that's precisely what Republicans have done in America, by blocking anything that will improve our economy. They want the public to turn against the president and his party. And it's working.