With Republicans expected to retain control of the US House in 2014, strategists warn Democrats must scramble to preserve their Senate majority — or risk a miserable finale to Barack Obama’s presidency.
An incumbent American president’s party historically fairs poorly at the ballot box in the middle of his second term, and there is increasing recognition that Obama’s Democrats may suffer such a fate in November.
Obama’s approval ratings are lousy, his health care reform law is even less popular, and mid-term election demographics, largely dominated by elderly and white voters, favor Republicans.
“I think it’s difficult to win back the House,” respected Democratic pollster David Beattie told AFP, acknowledging that cutting into the Republicans’ 17-seat advantage will be a steep climb.
“Even staying even would be bucking historical trends.”
That acknowledgement could fuel the cold-hearted calculation prevalent among some major Democratic donors and strategists to shift attention to protecting what they have in the Senate rather than going for broke in the other chamber.
“The legitimate part of it is to send a signal to party contributors that it’s essential for Democrats to save the Senate,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor who has tracked congressional races for years.
“President Obama’s last two years will be pure hell if he has neither house.”
Clearly, some Democratic contributors are supporting specific House candidates or incumbents, but political operatives appear to be getting their message through to deep-pocketed donors that an all-in approach to hold the Senate will be necessary.
“Democratic donors such as myself are likely — I would say certain — to increasingly shift their attention and resources to Senate races,” Tin House magazine publisher Win McCormack told Politico.
In 2012, McCormack gave $125,000 to a liberal political action committee dedicated to defeating conservative House Republicans, according to Politico. Not this year.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised an impressive $75.8 million in 2013, $15 million more than its Republican counterpart.
Still, “House Democrats don’t think they’re going to be wielding the gavel” next year, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Greg Walden told reporters.
He cited the announced retirement Thursday of House veteran Henry Waxman, who could have secured a powerful committee chairmanship if his party regained the majority.
“I would much rather be us than them, even with their cash advantage,” Walden crowed.
Democrats are hoping voter frustration with Congress will cripple Republicans, who were mostly blamed for a government shutdown last October.
Seeking to erase that perception, House Speaker John Boehner sought to rebrand his Republicans.
“We’re not just the opposition party, we’re the alternative party,” he said Thursday in unveiling Republican principles on immigration reform.
It would be a bitter pill for Democrats to leave Boehner at the helm, forcing leader Nancy Pelosi, 73, to wait two more years for a chance to reclaim the speaker’s gavel in 2016, when the political map is far more favorable.
But that is looking increasingly likely, a chief Pelosi lieutenant, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, signalled this week.
“I’m not going to confidently predict that Democrats will take the House back,” she said.
Congressional expert Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute forecast the odds Republicans hold the House at “way over 90 percent,” and if Democrats were realistic, they would “concentrate more resources in the Senate.”
The numbers are not favorable for Obama’s party in the 100-member chamber.
Republicans need to gain six seats for a majority. But there are seven vulnerable Democrats up for re-election or resigning in Republican-leaning states like Arkansas, Louisiana and Montana.
Even though Obama could help in fundraising, some embattled Democrats like Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich are choosing to avoid the president, lest he gets tarred with the same low approval numbers.
“Frankly, we’re in a tough spot,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wrote in a January fundraising email warning of being outspent in 2014 by conservative groups.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rang that alarm, accusing David and Charles Koch, billionaire industrialists who contribute huge money to conservative causes and candidates, of “trying to buy the country.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion
New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.
Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.
Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’
Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."
Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.
Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.
Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.
Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!
‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener
Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."
"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.
"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.
She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."