Republican Tsunami?

If some recent polls are accurate, it is beginning to look like it will be a very good year for the Republicans. It is usually expected that the party that doesn’t hold the White House does better in midterm elections, especially in the middle of a president’s second term. People grow tired of the same faces and policies and begin to want a change. No one really expected that the Democrats would be able to gain the House of Representatives this year, or increase their majority in the Senate. It didn’t seem likely that the Republicans would be able to capture a Senate majority. But, according to this article in Business Insider, we could be looking at, not just a wave, but a tsunami.

The Republican Party is at its strongest point in two decades heading into midterm elections, according to a new Pew Research-USA Today poll, the latest daunting sign for Democrats ahead of campaign season.

The GOP is at an even stronger point than in previous “wave” elections in 1994 and 2010 and looks poised to make major gains — and possibly take control of the U.S. Senate.

According to the poll, out Monday, Republicans have a 47-43 lead on the generic congressional ballot. That’s a 10-point swing from October, when Democrats, boosted by GOP blame for the federal government shutdown, held a 6-point lead in the Pew poll.

There are a number of reasons for this surge, but it is more because people are turning against the Democrats, and especially Obama, than because they support the Republicans. 

Overall, Democrats are plagued by the still-sluggish economy, the unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, and the undesirable views of President Obama. More voters (26%) say their vote will be “against” the president. Only 16% say their vote will be “for” Obama. And by more than a 2-to-1 margin, voters say they want the next president to pursue policies different from the Obama administration’s priorities.

As has been seen in other polls showing trouble for Democrats this year, the party is hampered by a lack of enthusiasm. For example, only 31% of Democratic voters say their vote is “for” Obama. In 2010, that number was 47%.

Some of the other troubling signs for Democrats:

  • Obama’s approval rating sits at 44%, compared with 50% who disapprove.
  • Although last Friday’s jobs report showed the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level since 2008, most people (65%) say jobs are still difficult to find. And while 25% of voters think the economy will get better next year, about an equal number think it’ll get worse.
  • The percentage of voters who disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (55%) is still tied for the highest in the law’s history.

About that unemployment rate, Business Insider also notes, in an article, that the labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1978. The reason unemployment is down is because a lot of people have given up looking for work. 

Of course, we still have six months before the election and there is plenty of time for the Republicans to screw up. Still, if all goes well, they will have an even better year in 2014 than in 2010.


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