Two Days Before the Midterms, G.O.P. Confidence Clashes With Democratic Anxiety
By David M. Drucker
September 17, 2014
Republicans face a daunting, if not impossible, task in maintaining their majorities in the House this November, even after the loss last night of several dozen seats in the suburbs, many of them in swing districts represented by Republicans. It is impossible, the Republicans say. The election will be theirs to maintain.
Democrats were the beneficiaries of a strategy that has been in place for a long time. They sought to use their numbers and their turnout advantage to win elections in which not a lot of Republicans live, and they relied heavily on party-line voting (voting for the majority of the party’s vote-getter) for the majority of their gains.
Party leaders were confident that these advantages would be enough. But, for the first time in memory, they were about to test that assumption.
Democrats, for their part, have been in a deep internal battle about what they should do. Some of them are quietly pushing for incremental, tactical reforms, hoping that such reforms can give them a winning edge over the Republican majority. Others are openly plotting, and preparing, for a full-scale effort to move to the right.
This is not new. President Barack Obama has made it clear from the start of his second term that he intends to go right after the Republican Party, with an eye towards ousting its leadership and driving it to the political margins. Many Democrats are worried that they will fail unless they change course, and have instead opted to focus on holding on to power.
Yet, while the GOP is not popular among the public as a whole (Obama’s approval rating at his lowest point in that year was just under 41 percent), recent public polls show that the party has a significant political problem. While the party’s generic-ballot support (the percentage who said they would vote for the Republican Party against a third party or independent candidate in the upcoming election) has hovered at around 45 percent over the past couple of years, and has moved slightly higher in recent months, it is still below 50. For Republicans to hope to win the White House next year, they will have to win not only the Senate and the House, but also regain the House majority and possibly even change the Electoral College system.
At the same time, public confidence in the government is