Monday, October 27, 2014

Senate in the balance

Most forecasts show that control of the Senate will probably shift to the Republicans after the midterm elections. But these elections are still very close, which in itself is somewhat remarkable given that the political makeup in most of the contested seats favors the Republican candidates, and that the president's popularity ratings are at a relatively low level right now. If these elections are still close, that means there must also be some trends favoring Democrats this year.

I think Republicans are right about one thing, which is that looking ahead for the next two years (probably as far as most people can foresee anyway), this election really is about Obama. If you support the president, you should want the Senate to remain in Democratic control so that the president can at least get his judicial and executive branch nominees confirmed, get a budget passed, keep the government open, and other stuff that most Americans probably support. And so you should favor the Democratic or Independent candidate over the Republican Senate candidate in your state.

The preceding 11 posts feature the candidates whose fortunes will determine whether the president will have a Senate he can work with, or a Senate that will act as his enemy. Since I support the president, I would like to see enough of these candidates get elected to keep the Senate in the Democrats' hands. But I must say I am disappointed that most of these moderate Democratic (and one Independent) candidates seem to be running scared from the president, refraining from inviting him to campaign events, distancing themselves from his positions, and being afraid even to admit that they voted for him. I'm not a political professional, and so I haven't tested whether that strategy plays well with focus groups, but it still seems like a mistake to me. I mean, if the main effect of the election you're in is to determine whether your party controls the Senate or not, which in turn will determine whether the Senate is going to be cooperative or confrontational with the president, well then, that is what the election is about. You can't hide from that.

In that case maybe you should tell people that you support the Affordable Care Act because it has brought millions of people real benefits, or that you are pleased that we have extricated ourselves from two wars in the Middle East, or that you appreciate the benefits of one of the longest expansions of the economy in history. People might be suffering from a little bit of Obama fatigue (that is typical in the sixth year of any presidency), but that's all the more reason why they need to be reminded of the president's accomplishments, and why he deserves a lot more credit than he has been given. That kind of talk will at least fire up the base, and get them to vote, which is half the battle. And it might carry some weight with independents, who upon reflection, might decide that they are tired of the obstructive attitude Republicans in Congress have played, and just might want to give the president a little easier time in his last couple of years in office.

No comments:

Post a Comment