Sunday, September 28, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Why I'm Cautious About 2014

Faithful readers of The Prairie Editor have noticed a certain
caution about making predictions for the 2014 national midterm

There are good reasons for this.

In 2010, and in earlier cycles, The Prairie Editor made predictions
with a certain abandon, if you will. In 2010 particularly, he was
probably the first national pundit to see the “wave” of that year
coming. As early as late 2009, he wrote that the Republicans would
likely pick up about 70 U.S. house seats. But in 2012, he misread the
political tea leaves, primarily because he overrated the GOP
get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort. He did write a column about two
weeks before that election to remind his readers that the
Democrats had a superb and effective GOTV organization and
program, yet he did not see the final presidential election result.

All the signs so far point to a good year in 2014 for the Republicans.
They are likely to increase their number in the U.S. house, and
almost certainly will increase their number in the U.S. senate.

But will the GOP re-take control of the senate? Will there be a
political “wave?”

As we come closer and closer to Election Day on November 4, the
number of “undecided” voters (most of them independents) will
diminish, and by the week before the election, there could be a
a reasonable portrait of the eventual results drawn. It is now very
late in the campaign for any new defining issues. President Obama’s
unpopularity might move a few points either way, but he is unlikely
to be of any help to his party’s candidates this cycle. 

Late-developing events such as the resignation of the Democratic
senate candidates in Montana and Kansas (the former dooming
their chances, the latter helping them), and gaffes and revelations
can happen, but the remaining days of this election cycle will most
importantly be devoted to technical matters such as voter ID and
GOTV.  In this general area and in most (but not all) states, the
Democrats have the recent historical advantage. Republicans say
they learned their lesson in 2012, and have initiated catch-up
ID and GOTV efforts using the latest technologies. Two states
to watch in this regard are North Carolina and Colorado. In
Minnesota, this effort is being managed primarily by the state
party. At least two national GOP consulting firms are involved in
dozens of other races, but their  ability to deliver on Election Day
is yet to be proven.

But it’s not just ID and GOTV. The Democrats clearly have the money
advantage in the 2014 cycle. There is a certain irony (conservatives
would say “hypocricy”) in the national Democrats complaint about
rich GOP donors; the fact is that most of the billionaires and
millionaires contributing to candidates in 2014 are liberal Democrats.
Nontheless, the Democrats are seriously outspending Republicans,
with some exceptions, across the country. Much of this money has
been used for personal attacks against GOP challengers (an exception
to this is in Kansas where the GOP has been attacking the now
frontrunning “independent” candidate who is running against a GOP

Many U.S. big business donors, historically leaning to the conservative
side, switched to Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2008 and 2012.
So far, they have seemed reluctant to switch back to the GOP, in spite
of what conservative partisans contend is the clear anti-business bias
of the Obama administration.

Turnout and cash now come center stage in the 2014 cycle. In these
two important areas, the party in power, the Democrats, still have an
advantage, at least judged by precedent.

As Election Day approaches, the polls will become more accurate,
albeit still inexact. The Prairie Editor cannot repeat enough that
true evidence of a political “wave” election will likely not appear
until just before the actual voting (although much early voting is
already taking place).

There are good reasons for caution about making predictions
about 2014. At the same time, signs are beginning to abound that
the final results might be historic. The reader should stay tuned.

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

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