If I were a Congressional Republican right now, I’d start to worry if I shouldn’t have bothered unpacking my stuff in my new majority offices just yet. We’re seeing some rather ominous warning signs for the Congressional Republicans that suggest that unless things change in the next year, they could be looking at yet another Democratic tide election that very well could sweep them right out of the majority again.
Consider the following:
I. The special election for NY-26
Remember the married New York Republican Congressman who got busted for looking for lust on Craigslist?
Well, the special election to replace him is being held in two weeks. For the longest time, nobody in D.C. cared about this special election because the GOP recruited a decent (i.e.- passable) candidate in what has traditionally been a solid red district. Nobody bothered to follow the race. Then the Democratic candidate starting to pounce on the Republican candidate’s endorsement of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to get rid of Medicare and replace it with government-subsidized insurance premiums, when….
The Democratic candidate started polling at or within striking distance of the Republican candidate, who is suffering from a Tea Party/Independent candidate taking nearly a quarter of the vote, thus splitting her base. Lest you think these two polls are not indicative of the race consider this: Speaker John Boehner spent time in the district this week stumping and raising money for what should have been an easily retained district by the Republicans. Karl Rove’s “independent” expenditure group also is beginning airing ads pumping up the Republican candidate by taking on the Tea Party Independent as—gasp!—a former Democrat.
Normally, Republicans outraise Democrats generally. Also, the party in the majority tends to outraise the party out of party. Therefore, when the Republicans are in the majority, the fundraising disadvantage tends to get rather large.
Indeed, the NRCC touted that March was the best March they’ve ever had. Whatever that means. What everyone else noticed is that in the most recent campaign finance reports, the DCCC outraised the NRCC by roughly $1.5 million.
Still, the NRCC has nearly twice as much as on hand and benefits from an independent expenditure group advantage that allowed them to save money in competitive races last year, too.
III. The ‘12 Presidential race
John McCain sucked so bad, he made Sarah Palin look good. Palin was the only thing the McCain campaign offered to get their base to vote in November. Look at the ‘12 GOP field and tell me you hear or see a party that is inspired or motivated by any candidate (potential or otherwise) in the race.
Mitt Romney, who never stopped running and is still considered the presumptive front-runner, second only to potentially Mike Huckabee, is giving a speech on Thursday in which he’ll attempt to explain how RomneyCare doesn’t disqualify him from taking on Obama over “ObamaCare.”
The only thing that is making Obama vulnerable is the economy. If that continues to improve, the GOP may not even have that to use against him anymore.
IV. Generic polling
Whatever electorate elected John Kasich Governor and made John Boehner Speaker, it practically disappeared the second the polls closed last November. Shortly before the election, Rasmussen had the Republicans at (51%-39%) twelve-point advantage. The Pollster.com average at the time showed the GOP with nearly eight-point advantage.
How’s it looking just six months later?
TPM shows the GOP with an average advantage of .6%. Rasmussen shows the GOP’s advantage down to three points (41%-38%) as support for the GOP fell off the cliff shortly after the election and then again when Obama worked out a deal to avoid a federal government shutdown. Today’s CNN poll actually shows the Democrats with a four-point advantage getting 50% of the registered voters’ support.
Yes, the GOP has the advantage of redistricting. And there’s some races like Ohio’s First Congressional which were national targets last time, but presently doesn’t have any well-known Democratic challenger expected to declare.
And yes, the last six months have shown just how quickly the political environment among the electorate can change quickly. But do you see anything the GOP is doing to reverse these trends?
I’m liking our chances next year.