Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beltway Conventional Wisdom Is Already Creating A Narrative That Republicans Will Triumph In The 2014 Midterm Elections


Needed: a progressive, non-corporate voice at the table

American voters were pretty clear at the ballot box earlier this month that they blame Republicans for the country's economic woes. Obama had an electoral college landslide and won over 4 million more votes than Romney. The Democrats stomped all over the Republicans on the Senate map, winning every seriously contested seat but one (Nevada, where the Democrats had entered a hopelessly corrupt and worthless New Dem from the House). And even in House races, where the Democrats were fatally hampered by Steve Israel's horrific reptilian targeting and by egregious gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Florida, and Michigan, nationally over half a million more voters cast ballots for Democrats in House races than for Republicans.

Most Americans are already blaming the GOP for the so-called Fiscal Cliff and are clear that if negotiations fail it will be because Republicans refuse to negotiate, something normal voters hate but that the GOP-Fox base insists on. And the Republicans' Fox problem isn't going away. So why is Beltway conventional wisdom already creating a narrative that Republicans will triumph in the 2014 midterm elections?

Those seeking to make the case that the Democrats can't take back the House in 2014, would be wise to point out that Pelosi re-appointed Steve Israel to head the DCCC, which is worth at least a dozen seats to the GOP since Israel won't tackle Republican leaders or committee chairs who set he party's policy agenda. Nor will he take on any Republican fraternity brothers from his old Center Aisle Caucus. That's the best case that can be made for why the House Democrats will fail again. But that isn't the case that the Beltway's premier fount of conventional wisdom, Politico is making in their case against the Democrats. It's not Israel's fault (nor Pelosi's for reappointing him in the face of his stupendous, self-inflicted failure this cycle); it's because of the "six year itch." It's like religious dogma for political hacks:
Pelosi’s party will be swimming against the riptide of history. The party controlling the White House during a president’s sixth year in office has lost seats in every midterm election but one since 1918, when Woodrow Wilson occupied the Oval Office. And the setbacks typically aren’t small: The average loss in these elections was 30 seats. The exception was 1998, when a soaring economy and Republicans’ focus on President Bill Clinton’s affair helped Democrats buck the trend and pick up a handful of seats.

Anger, exhaustion and frustration tend to set in among voters as presidents approach the last leg of their final term. It happened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938 when voters recoiled at his New Deal reforms. Twenty years later, consternation over the economy cost Dwight Eisenhower 48 House seats. And in 2006, George W. Bush, presiding over two drawn-out wars in the Middle East, watched Republicans lose 30 seats and control of the House.

On the surface, the brass ring looks well within reach for Pelosi and her party: Democrats will need to flip only around 17 or 18 GOP seats to win the House. But that relatively modest gap probably masks the degree of difficulty.

...Some Republicans argue that the dynamic of the coming midterm favors them. Obama, whose reelection bid drove many voters to the polls on Nov. 6, won’t be on the ballot in 2014, leaving congressional Democrats to fend for themselves. And there’s a good chance, the Republicans say, that their voters will be more motivated than the other side the next time around.
And if Democrats actually fulfill the promise of the election, there's also a good chance that their voters will be more motivated. The Republicans-- with more than a few Democrats, certainly the corrupt corporate shills who call themselves Blue Dogs and New Dems-- will push for a Grand Bargain that seeks to balance the budget-- a budget unbalanced by Wall Street and by Republicans pushing unpaid-for wars and unpaid-for tax breaks for multimillionaires and billionaires-- on the backs of working families. If Democrats-- the real ones, not the "New Dems"-- can stand up for working families and prevent the decision by our out out-of-touch political elites to wreck Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, voters will remember in 2014. Otherwise, it really will be 2010 all over again, with the Democratic base just staying home and letting worthless Democrats be defeated again. And they will certainly deserve that fate.

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