THE RISE of the voter with no affiliation to the Democratic or Republican parties has reached an all-time high, according to Gallup. Independent voters now total 42% of the voting populace, and I think it’s for very good reasons. Independents still tilt either left or right, which is critical to understand for this discussion.
Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans “shellacked” Democrats in the midterm elections. [Gallup]
Your average voter isn’t all that partisan, which is why in midterm elections you see wild swings like what happened in 2010, the moment the Tea Party faction in the House became ensconced. The same will hold true later this year, with the party who gets out the vote of their most committed having an edge.
It’s why establishment players like the right-leaning Larry Sabato, who hails from Virginia, predicted in Politico that Republicans are poised to win it all in November. From the vantage point of Sabato, who will never get his head around universal health care, Obamacare is the fulcrum behind the machine that could hand Republicans a Senate win.
There is little doubt that the edge goes to Republicans, with the political party not holding the White House historically gaining in midterms. This is nothing new to predict.
Democrats, on the other hand, have an opportunity in the midterms to get out the vote of people who rarely if ever vote in off-year election cycles. If their minimum wage campaign catches hold, the Walmart, fast food, clothing store and bank teller block could dam up any anti Obamacare voting surge.
The question has already arisen about whether 2014 will be a Duck Dynasty or Obamacare election. Democrats and progressives have the job of making it a Duck Dynasty and Minimum Wage election, while never backing down on the benefits of ACA. If Democrats could get out all the beneficiaries of Obamacare, in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat would go to Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Like I’ve already written, Democrats need to ignore the prognosticators and the polling, focusing on expanding base of people who might turn out in 2014.
Voters are always more driven by emotion, and if Democrats and progressives can tie that emotion to a personal gain for the voter, like a living wage campaign versus an ideological passion, which is always the Republican plan, the chance to spike people’s passions for what’s in it for them to vote Democratic could make the difference.