The 2014 national midterm election will turn out its results
depending on one vital question: Will the individual elections
for governor, U.S. senator and U.S. house of representatives be
determined (as is usual) mostly by local circumstances and
personalities, or will they be considered by a large number of
voters (mostly independents) as a plebiscite on President
Obama, his administration, and their performance in office?
The Democratic Party needs the answer to be the former; the
Republican Party and most independent voters want the answer
to be the latter. The huge amounts of money being spent by
outside groups for vulnerable Democratic incumbents reveals
how intensely the liberal party and its supporters are trying to
keep this cycle as local and personal as possible. They have had
some success, it should be noted, but the price has been high.
Campaigns of defamation and personal attack when supported
by massive TV and mail advertising are proven strategies.
Republicans are fighting back, but their financial resources this
cycle are more limited, especially against incumbents.
Evidence of all this can easily be seen by the Democratic
candidates themselves. Most of them are attempting in one way
or another to keep Mr. Obama out of the minds of voters in their
races. One Democratic candidate recently got as specific as
possible by publicly stating “I am not Obama!” The president’s
poll numbers are at, or close to, his all-time lows. In Minnesota,
for example, he is currently at 38%, although he carried the state
easily in his two presidential elections. If his unpopularity is on
Minnesota voters’ minds on election day, both Governor Mark
Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken have a serious re-election
problem. Both of them are currently ahead of their Republican
challengers, but each of them are under 50% in most polls. This
is also true of many close races across the country where
Democratic incumbent still lead in the polls, but are notably
Historically, truly undecided voters at the end of an election
campaign rarely vote for incumbents or the party in power.
The stock market is up, but a number of stock analysts are
openly predicting a steep decline or crash ahead. Official
unemployment is down, but the true numbers are still very
high. The economy is uncertain. Inflation, interest rates,
government deficits, home real estate values and higher
taxes are a concern for most American voters as election
day approaches. Foreign affairs, usually not significant in
U.S. voter decisions, fills the daily headlines with terrorist
threats, U.S. diplomatic missteps and blunders, and
American retreat from its hitherto preeminent global
The leadership of President Obama, senate majority leader
Harry Reid, and house minority leader Nancy Pelosi has
moved the nation abruptly to the left since 2009. They and
whomever the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee
will be in 2016 want the voters to confirm their actions and
policies in 2014. With a new figure at the top of their ticket in
2016, Democrats can then anticipate remaining in power and
continuing these policies.
If many voters decide in 2014, however, that their only way to
signal their dissatisfaction with the Obama policy regimen
and its results is to vote massively for the opposition party,
all bets are off for the next presidential election.
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.