Typically, elections are referendums on recent history. A President’s first election is usually a referendum on the previous President. If the previous Prez was good, then a person from the same party will be elected. If not, then parties will switch. Midterm elections are often considered referendums on the sitting President, and typically aren’t good news for them, unless they’re incredibly popular or if Americans are sick of the opposing party.
Knowing this, with the 2014 midterm election coming up, let’s begin delving into exactly why the Democratic Party is poised to win big.
10. Shifting Demographics
America is changing, a lot. The shift over the past 50 years has begun to favor ethnic minorities, women, and immigrants from more liberal countries, all of whom tend to favor Democrats over Republicans. While we’re not going to buy into the belief that the Republican is the old, white, Christian, men’s party, the perception is there and it’s an important perception in a field where day-to-day life is very much an us-against-them mentality. And if you think we’re overstepping things here … Republicans think the exact same thing, and are struggling to change that perception. Simply put: they will not have time by 2014 to make that shift happen.
9. Pure Stubbornness
Stubbornness can be a good thing and a bad thing. When you hold onto the hard line no matter what, you can risk being seen as obstinate and clueless. But sometimes, you can also be seen – especially by your supporters – as principled and leader-like. The jury is still out on how the Democrats holding the hard line in the Senate will play out following the recent shutdown. Historically though, they’ve done very well at keeping criticism at bay, which explains why Americans are more likely to blame the Republicans than Democrats for the shutdown.
8. The Tea Party
Like it or not, the Tea Party movement has been losing supporters for some time now, and it’s not likely to change. In 2010, the Tea Party’s sharp balance of Obama’s left-wing agenda created an opportunity for him to look moderate going into the 2012 election, their own hard-line right-wing stance has also served to divide the Republican Party. For the GOP, the math simply is not there to support a divided right-wing party that’s more dependent than the Democrats on moderates to win national elections. It also doesn’t help the overall party that, while traditional Republicans are willing to negotiate in order to get things done, the Tea Party’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude has only served to isolate the two major factions of the Republican Party. That’s not to say that the Democrats don’t have factions, but they also have a single leader they can unite behind – something the Republicans sorely lack.
7. The Economy
The economy hit rock bottom in late 2009. Since then, there has been a slow, but steady increase in private money available for spending, and a slow decrease in unemployment. However these numbers happened and however small the improvement is and whatever other important numbers are being glossed over, improvement is still improvement and that’s exactly how the Democrats are going to market it. Generating positive feelings about their party’s efforts in recovering from the crash of September 2008 is going to be a key in getting them elected in 2014, and any further improvement is going to be marketed aggressively.
6. Limited Impacts of the Affordable Care Act
Republicans have been predicting disaster for the American people because of the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, the ACA will come into full play and people are now either signing up for the plans or preparing to pay the penalties. Currently, sign-ups for Obamacare have been running far below estimates and people have been more than happy to shell out the $95 (or 1% of their income – whichever is greater) for 2014 to not sign up for government health insurance. The bigger penalties – $395 (2%) for 2015, $695 (2.5%) for 2016 and beyond – don’t hit until after the 2014 election, which gives Democrats a great opportunity to duck around this unpopular law loaded with other, hidden taxes. Don’t expect Democrats to promote their healthcare victory as much as you can expect them to quietly play up how little it’s costing people – for now.
For a President who’s brought us a heavily-disliked health insurance law, domestic spying, failed international interventions, and more divisiveness than any President in recent memory, whose “direction of the country” ratings have peaked in the 35% range, and who’s sat over an entire administration of 7%+ unemployment, Obama remains extremely popular among his supporters. He has a very keen ability to move the national discussion and his mastery of the media has been unlike any President in recent memory. While he may not gain any support among conservatives, Democrats and liberals love him and he will likely use his popularity and Congress’ unpopularity to push for his party to gain seats in Congress.
If there is one consistent source of money for Democrat candidates, it’s from union donations and support. While the only union chief ever to have been President was a Republican (Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild), Unions have been faithful Democrat supporters for decades and that’s not about to stop now, especially in states like Wisconsin where two straight defeats for the governor’s seat (an election and a recall election) were union-backed, and the unions have not forgotten, nor forgiven the sharp turn right in that state or many others where union involvement was tightened following the 2010 and 2012 elections. In a world where the candidate with the most money often wins, expect the unions to pour a LOT of money into these races. In fact, they already have – six of the top 10 donors to the 2014 election so far have been unions and only one of them has given less than 80% to Democrat candidates.
3. The Media Machine
Let’s be honest: the mainstream news bends to the left. Even with Fox News, a populist news outlet often accused of being conservative, the Democrats still maintain a stranglehold on most news sources, and are not shy about using their influence to push their agenda. They used it very well in 2008 and 2012 to push Obama into the White House and they have every intent of using their friends in the news media to push the belief that Republicans are extremist, scary, and dumb.
2. Controversial Moves By State-Level GOP
The GOP gained control of many state legislatures and governorships between 2010 and 2012, and as any party would do when they have that much success, they did exactly what the Democrats did in Congress from 2006-2010: they pushed their party’s agenda. The result has been attacks on social issues that Democrats hold dear like abortion and that Republicans don’t have the poll numbers to back up. Further issues like education are providing Democrats with plenty of ammunition to attack the GOP in what will likely be an all-out ideological war.
1. Incumbent Dissatisfaction
Right now, people hate their sitting politicians, and since the Republicans hold the House of Representatives, they have the most to lose. Because they’ve been so visible during the shutdown discussions, the GOP has taken it on the chin, and are very likely to lose some big seats in the House in 2014.
Such a scenario has happened before, and not that long ago. The result ended up being four years of powerful Democratic control of Congress, two of those years with a Democrat president, during which they were able to accomplish much of their agenda. All signs point to this soon becoming the case once again.