The Wall Street Journal's Dante Chinni speculates on what the 2014 midterms will say about 2016:
As the 2014 midterm campaigns enter the homestretch, the Republican Party needs a net gain of six seats in Senate to take back control -- and of course, it doesn't particularly matter which ones, as long as the party gets to 51. But looking down the road toward the White House race, the outcomes in specific states will be a strong indicator of the national political mood -- and Republicans' prospects -- heading into 2016.First, let me give Chinni his due: He goes on to acknowledge the ways that midterms and presidential elections are different. But if Democrats do poorly this November, especially in blue or purple states, I suspect that idiot pundits won't bother with that -- they'll immediately speculate that Hillary Clinton is in deep, deep trouble for 2016.
With that in mind, here are the five states that bear the most watching: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina....
If ... Republicans candidates can score victories in a few of those five states it might give them momentum in crucial 2016 battlegrounds going into that cycle....
If so, that's ridiculous, for two reasons.
First, if this year's vote is partly a vote against anyone, it's a vote against Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton. Second, the 2010 midterms (which, for a lot of voters, actually were a vote against the candidate who'd be running for president two years later) didn't predict what would happen in 2012 at all. In 2010, Republicans won governor's races in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Republicans won Senate races in Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- and, of course, earlier in the year the GOP had won a Senate race in Massachusetts.
In 2012, Barack Obama was victorious in every one of those states.
In midterms, old white people vote. As a rule, other demographic groups don't. Until that pattern is altered, midterms will usually favor Republicans.
And if Hillary Clinton is the Democrats' presidential nominee, she'll seem to represent continuity with Obama for some voters, while, for others, she'll represent a break with Obama (because the two of them have been opponents in the past, and possibly because the right-wing media portrays them as mortal enemies). That's why her poll numbers are still strong even though Obama's aren't.
A lot of things can happen between now and 2016. There might be domestic terrorism -- or there might be some successes overseas in the fight against terrorists. The economy might falter -- or the recovery might actually reach ordinary people a little bit. A Republican Senate and House could be politically shrewd -- or might be twice as extreme as just a Republican House, while doing even less good for the country (if that's even humanly possible).
So we don't know what's going to happen. Therefore, the upcoming midterms will say something about 2016 -- but not much.