Republicans also do not hold an advantage over Democrats on the two issues that have hurt Mr. Obama most. According to January 2014 surveys, the public has more confidence in Democrats’ handling of health care by an eight-point margin (45%-37%). Neither party has a decided advantage on handling the economy, with 42% favoring Republicans and 38% more confident in Democrats. While it may be a long shot, it’s at least possible that the economy and the perception of the Affordable Care Act could improve over the next seven months. [Pew Research]
“FOX and Friends” was all too gleeful to show the graphic above and talk about all the woes of Obamacare, the website currently working after a flood of visitors over the weekend caused the site to slow down and require the above graphic. On the very last days of open enrollment it’s not so surprising that people are inundating a site that started off in SOS mode. With all of the glitches, however, Democrats maintain an 8-point lead over Republicans on health care, which should tell voters a lot.
Republicans also remain more unpopular as a brand than Democrats.
It would be tempting to say it’s all over before it begins, but Democrats have some hope. First, the Democratic Party remains better liked than the GOP. In Pew’s December survey, 59% rated the GOP unfavorably, while just 35% held a favorable opinion of the party. The Democratic Party’s ratings were not great either, but markedly better””47% favorable versus 48% unfavorable. [Pew Research]
Democrats must keep pressing their case. African Americans and Latinos remain identified as Democratic, but that won’t be enough. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm gap between the two major parties is huge.
Fully 55% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters expect the GOP to do better in 2014 than the party has in recent elections, while only 43% of Democrats expressed such confidence.
The most committed wins and right now that’s not Democrats.
President Obama’s approval rating among millennials has cratered. In 2009 his approval rating was at 70%; today it’s 49%. That’s still decent, better than the national average, but this demographic doesn’t always come out, let alone vote in midterm elections.
Independents are unenthusiastic about Democrats, with Republicans now leading 44% to 38%. From 2012, when Democrats had 45%, Republicans 50% of independents, you can do the math and see there are plenty of undecideds.
Democrats continue to lose white registered voters, which was the case before Barack Obama took office. They have other demographic advantages that make this less of an issue.
The strongest weapon Republicans have for the 2014 midterms is fear and making potential voters think Democrats have lost the argument already. Democrats have to fight to keep this from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and the outcome worse than it need be.
Senator Ted Cruz tweeted out this morning “full repeal.” There remains absolutely no evidence a “full repeal” is popular, let alone possible. Even Alex Sink in Florida didn’t lose solely on the Obamacare issue, with voters buying the “mend it, don’t end it” notion, according to NBC News/WSJ. That inspired red state Democrats up for reelection to propose Senate changes to the health care law, whether they get done or not.
Perception as political advantage can be potent. In a rough midterm election year the fight can be as important as anything, especially with Republican opponents who are part of the extremist wing of the House.
The government shutdown still haunts Republicans; a stunt that was masterminded by Senator Ted Cruz. A moment in time that solidified the extremist Republican brand.
>Democrats have maintained a wide image advantage over Republicans since 2011 when the GOP first threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling. The public seems to see Republicans as more likely to take extreme positions and less willing to compromise. Moreover, unfavorable opinions of the tea party have nearly doubled to 49% in 2013 from 25% in 2010, according to Pew’s polling.
There is plenty for Democrats to use against Republicans. Sowing seeds of doubt about the nature of the Republican agenda is a start. As the polling reveals on Obamacare, it’s not enough to be against something, with the public obviously sensing Republicans don’t have their own solution.
A positive message on income equality and raising the minimum wage would go a long way for Democrats as well, by defining Republican further as against the little guy.
None of this aids the image of President Obama, which Pew’s Andrew Kohut, as well as other polling experts, believe is the single biggest obstacle that Democrats face in keeping the Senate or at least stopping the damage done with a 50-50 Senate outcome, leaving V.P. Joe Biden the tie-breaker.
It’s still a long way until November. But this far out there are still encouraging signs for Democrats, despite a catastrophic Obamacare rollout, because Republicans have a terrible image that they’ve earned and cannot shake.