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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A GOP Wave in 2014?

At The Washington Post, Reid Wilson suggests that 2014 may be starting to look like 2010 -- a GOP wave election.  The generic ballot is moving in the GOP's direction and the president's favorability rating has turned sour.
Historically, Democrats have held an advantage of at least a few points on the generic ballot, even when election results are a wash: Democrats held a six-point edge just before Election Day 2000 and picked up a grand total of one seat. Democrats led Republicans by one point on the generic ballot just before the 2010 elections, when Republicans rode to a sweeping victory.
And there’s no sign that Obama will become more popular. Presidents who see their approval ratings dip so dramatically in the second term rarely see their numbers improve. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon’s approval ratings never recovered after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal (Nixon, of course, didn’t stick around to see just how far his ratings could fall). George W. Bush’s approval rating sank in the spring of 2005, and continued falling through the end of his term. Obama’s numbers are starting to resemble Bush’s trend lines.
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Reaction to the bungled rollout of the health care law is overwhelmingly to blame. Already, the fallout has been evident: Public surveys in Virginia showed Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) leading Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) by wide margins in the wake of the government shutdown. But Cuccinelli made the final weeks of the race into a referendum on ObamaCare, and McAuliffe’s support began to erode. On Election Day, McAuliffe won by just 2.5 points, a narrower margin than even his internal polls showed. Another week, and Cuccinelli might be governor-elect.
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But back in 2010, 40 percent told Post pollsters they viewed Republicans in a favorable light, 10 points lower than those who said they saw Democrats favorably. Republicans feigned a national platform, akin to the Contract With America, but their pitch to voters was more about what they were against — namely, Democrats and ObamaCare — than what they were for. Voters have backed the unpopular party with few ideas over the slightly-more-popular party with unpopular ideas before.
At National Journal, Josh Kraushaar adds detail:
Race-by-race polling conducted over the last month has painted a grim picture of the difficult environment Senate Democrats are facing next year. In Louisiana, a new state survey showed Landrieu's approval rating is now underwater; she tallied only 41 percent of the vote against her GOP opposition. In Arkansas, where advertising on the health care law began early, Sen. Mark Pryor's approval sank to 33 percent, a drop of 18 points since last year. A new Quinnipiac survey showed Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who looked like a lock for reelection last month, in a dead heat against little-known GOP opponents. Even a Democratic automated poll from Public Policy Polling showed Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina running neck-and-neck against Republican opposition, with her job disapproval spiking over the last two months. These are the types of numbers that wave elections are made of.
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"You want to prevent your race from being about Obamacare. If you enable your race to be about Obamacare, you're making a mistake," said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who's working for Landrieu. "You need to explain what you're trying to fix, and you better be trying to fix something. If there's nothing you want to fix, there's something wrong with you. At this point, it's hard to defend the benefits, but you can say we're not going back to the evils of the old system."