Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The 2014 national mid-term elections are now coming to
their full campaign activity. Only a few party nominees
remain to be chosen in the key races for U.S. senate, U.S.
house, governor and control of state legislatures. July
and August will be primarily devoted to fund-raising and
positioning for the post-Labor Day final push to election
day on November 4 (which is now less than four months

It was expected, a year ago, that Republicans might have
some success in 2014, considering the history of mid-term
elections and the advantage of more Democratic senate
incumbents up for re-election. Democrats, however, were
expected to pick up governorships since many more
Republican state executive positions than Democratic ones
were up at the same time.

Initially, this expectation, including a small number of
U.S. house pick-ups by Democrats, and perhaps 3-6 GOP
pick-ups of U.S. senate seats, emerged before the new year,

Since that time, however, primarily due to the increasing
unpopularity of the Democratic president, and the
problems associated with the Democratic healthcare
reform known as Obamacare, the re-election of several
Democratic incumbents became suddenly in doubt.
The likelihood of Democrats picking up U.S. house seats
has been transformed now to a greater likelihood that the
GOP majority will grow. Democrats still are expected to
make a net gain in governorships, but aside from
Pennsylvania where the incumbent GOP governor trails
badly, and a few others, the gains might be limited. An
assessment of any change in control in state legislatures
is unclear at this time. Loss of control of the U.S. senate is
now considered quite possible by all, and probable by
some. The number of Democratic senate seats now
considered very vulnerable is 7 to 9, with an additional
3-5 considered potentially vulnerable.

The addition of Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia,
New Hampshire and Minnesota to the list of possible
turnovers to the GOP only highlights the political
deterioration of the Democrats (although Democratic
incumbent senators in each of these states still enjoy a
notable lead).

Polling does not seem very clarifying this cycle, as it
similarly was not most of the 2012 cycle. In some polls the
Democratic Party leads the Republican Party when voters
are asked who they favor for election in 2014, something
not supported by many polls for individual races. Partisan
polls abound more than ever, and voters have to be wary
of those polls, and any polls that do not sample "likely
voters," do not have large samples, not to mention how the
questions are asked, and how the "raw" samples are

Current official figures show unemployment at a five-year
low (although when ALL unemployed adults are counted,
the number remains about 10%). The stock market daily
seems to reach new highs, and the consequent recovery of
national individual net worth, and  the recovery of the
value of most pension funds, would seem to bring positive
news to Democrats, but voters seem nervous and wary.
The abrupt deterioration of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy,
particularly in Central Europe (vis a vis Russia), Asia (vis a
vis China) and the Middle East is not boosting voter
confidence in the president, nor have IRS scandals and
alleged domestic NSA spying on American citizens. Mr.
Obama’s presumption of “administrative law” to
unilaterally accomplish his goals without the approval of
Congress does not seem to have wide support either. The
administration seems now in some disarray, and more and
more 2014 Democratic candidates seem to be putting
distance between themselves and the White House in

From those of us who write about politics and campaigns,
there is always the understandable expectation from readers
for predictions. It is no different in 2014 when the major question
seems to be whether or not the Republicans will regain control
of the U.S. senate, thus insuring the end of several left-liberal
initiatives brought on by the Democratic leadership in the
nation’s capital.

Some of the more radical right groups and candidates seem
much less prominent in 2014 than in 2012, as Republican grass
roots voters seem determined to make this a winning cycle for
their party.

The signs therefore continue to point to significant conservative
gains in 2014, and the best thing going for the Republicans
seems to be an unwitting Democratic president.

We all know the cliche about how U.S. politics can change
course in a short time, even in four months, so there is no
valid reason for any Republican overconfidence at this point.
But time IS running out for the national Democrats and many
of their candidates in the 2014 cycle.

Historically, four months is not always “a political lifetime.”
As any incumbent administration always does before an
election, they make every possible effort to boost the economic
environment (and the interpretation of that environment).
Mr. Obama and his Washington, DC colleagues appear to be
making this effort, but curiously so far it does not seem to be
having the desired impact on many voters. This might change,
of course, but we might on the other hand be witnessing an
early case of voter fatigue --- and a desire to put others in

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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