Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, November 12, 2013
An interesting thing happened Wednesday: Quinnipiac, a well-respected public pollster, released a national poll showing the generic congressional ballot tied at 39 percent. This finding is special because it’s the first time in a long time that the Democrats haven’t held a lock on the generic congressional ballot, and it comes during a period in which Americans generally hate both political parties following the Healthcare.gov debacle and the 17-day government shutdown. Quinnipiac’s last poll at the beginning of October had the Democrats up by 9 points, 43 percent to 34 percent.
“In Washington today, it comes down to who the voters dislike the least,” Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a press release. ”There are no heroes.”
On the surface, it may not seem like much – but it actually bodes very well for Republicans in 2014.
How so? In 2014 there will be 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats up for grabs. Unless there is a Democratic landslide it is unlikely that Republicans will lose the House, as in many states the redistricting efforts after the 2010 Census favored Republicans. The party’s majority may go down by a seat or two, but the drop won’t be enough to merit a party change within the chamber.
Meanwhile, Democrats have to defend 18 of the 33 Senate seats being contested next November, including four seats in conservative-leaning states where the incumbent is retiring. In fact, out of the 10 most contested Senate seats ranked by The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog, nine of them belong to Democrats. Retaking back the chamber is still an uphill battle, however, because Democrats now have a 10 seat advantage in the chamber (including the two Independents who caucus with the party). Republicans would need to win nearly every competitive seat next November to take back the chamber.
More so than in 2012, the 2014 elections are the Republicans to lose. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act has already proven to be a catastrophic failure to the point that key members of the party, including former President Bill Clinton, have lambasted him on it. The president’s approval rating has also reached an all-time low andisn’t likely to rebound anytime soon.
The key now is to keep the Republican party coherent enough to make it through November. Already the party has shown several signs of fission, the latest being the rift between the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Conservatives Fund, and more are likely to come.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for the party to come together. What the party needs to do is put up smartcandidates, especially if it wants to take back (or at least trim the Democrats’ majority) in the Senate. By smart, I mean no more Christine O’Donnells, no more Sue Lowdens and no more Todd Akins. All three of those seats (Delaware, Nevada and Missouri) would be in Republican hands today had they not been the party’s general election candidates in their respective elections.
The party also needs to understand that different types of candidates will run better in different areas of the country than others. It’s ok to run a candidate like Chris Christie in a northeastern state because – well – that’s the kind of candidate that northeastern voters are more receptive to. At the end of the day, it’s better to have a Republican majority in D.C. that agrees on 95 percent of things than a Republican minority because we ran the wrong candidates.
Republicans need to remember that it is the Democrats who are our political enemy, not our fellow Republicans. We can only win in 2014 and beyond if we come together as a whole – and there’s no better time than the present to get the ball rolling to that effect.