National Climate Favors Big GOP Gains in Congress
The political environment at the national level clearly favors the Republicans making gains in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
The first and most important indication is President Obama’s poor national approval rating, which is at 43%, while a majority of Americans – or 52% – disapprove of his job performance, according to national poll tracking websites. In fact, the president hasn’t had a 50% job approval rating since before last August, and has failed to hit fifty percent in more than 100 polls conducted by all sorts of bipartisan and partisan leaning firms in the last 6 to 8 months.
Add to this the fact that by a 62 to 29 margin, most Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction, an ominous trend that hasn’t changed much in the last two years and a clear indication that most people are not happy with the President’s stewardship of the economy or the country.
So why is the president’s low popularity likely to have an impact on the Congressional races this November?
The first reason is his low popularity will affect his ability to either help Democrats in competitive districts or galvanize turnout with the kinds of coalitions that typically turn out in presidential elections. These groups include “millenials” or young voters which voted for Obama by a 62:38 margin in 2012, and minorities like African Americans and Hispanics who the President won with between 65 and 90 percent of the vote.
A good recent illustration of how Republicans are likely to benefit this November is a special election held in mid-March in a Florida swing district where Republicans were victorious. Centrally located in Pinellas County along the state’s Gulf border, the district is really one of the premier bellwether districts in the state because it voted for both former President George Bush but then swung to Obama in both 2008 and 2012. It is even divided between R’s and D’s so competition is always ripe between parties. The Republican nominee, David Jolly, tied the Democratic candidate, Alex Sink, to Obama care and made the election a referendum on Obama’s policies. Sink, who was also an unsuccessful candidate for governor four years ago but actually carried Pinellas County in this prior campaign failed to get the separation she needed from the president despite her strong popularity as a former statewide elected official. Further supporting this point, Kim Strassel from the Wall Street Journal even penned an editorial about the implications of this election for Democrats in November.
The only good news for Democrats perhaps is that national polling also shows the image of the Republican-controlled U.S. House at historic lows, and Americans are evenly divided on which party they want to control Congress. Nonetheless, based on historical patterns which almost always show the party out of power makes gains in mid-term elections, especially the 6-year mark of a president’s second term – all evidence points to a big year for the GOP this coming fall.