Midterms brings the slugfest, with Democrats having a message that's muddled, while Republicans are ready to rumble.

Midterms brings the slugfest, with Democrats having a message that’s muddled, while Republicans are ready to rumble.
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron in the Oval Office, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This looming battle is a reminder of the enduring political import of the 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans, powered by the Tea Party and anger over Mr. Obama’s health care program, picked up control of 23 state legislatures. These were the legislatures that oversaw redrawing legislative and congressional district lines in most states, typically in favor of the party in power, which has only enhanced their electoral prospects this year. [New York Times]

REMEMBER THE 2010 midterms, when President Obama basically sat back and let Republican Tea Party activists own the economic message? That’s going so far back that Sarah Palin still had clout. The Obama White House didn’t see the importance of what was happening state by state. August begins the 2014 midterms that will be a tussle and once again states are preparing for a strong Republican tide. Democrats work to hold the U.S. Senate, which won’t be easy, the House firmly in control of right-wing cranks who take advice from Senator Ted Cruz.

From Adam Nagourney today:

Republicans are looking to take over senates in Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, Maine and Nevada, and houses in Kentucky, New Hampshire and West Virginia. Republicans could emerge with complete control of the legislatures in New Hampshire and Kentucky, though both of those states have Democratic governors.

They hope these victories will help them push through legislation that has been stymied by Democrats until now, such as pressing the kind of restrictions on labor organizing the party passed in Wisconsin, or rolling back gun laws in Colorado. In Iowa, Republicans are looking to eliminate a tax on manufacturing and enact a ban there on telemedicine abortions, where women in rural areas obtain abortion pills after videoconference consultations with faraway doctors.

It is not a one-way battle, though:

Democrats are pouring resources into taking back senates in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as the houses in Arkansas and Iowa. Democrats are in a position to pick up some governors’ seats in, among others, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Wouldn’t it be great if Scott Walker goes down? His constant campaign against workers and unions would be worth it all.

People want someone to fight for them, as Robert Borosage writes today, it’s just one reason Senator Elizabeth Warren is so popular. If only the Democratic party could sound like her this fall the midterms might turn out well for them. But as Borosage points out, the message right now is muddled and it comes from the top.

Democrats have laid out a populist agenda, calling for raising the minimum wage, pay equity, paid family leave, universal pre-school, rebuilding our infrastructure paid for by asking the rich and multinationals to pay a fairer share of taxes. But their message is mixed. Obama, who still has the best pulpit, touts the recovery: 10 million jobs in 52 months, growing energy independence, and millions more with affordable health insurance. He celebrates an America that has “recovered faster and come farther than just about any advanced country on earth,” arguing that the economy has been rebuilt on a “new foundation.”

This patter leaves most Americans cold, suggesting instead that the president is simply out of touch.

They struggle with lousy jobs, wages that aren’t keeping up, kids who can’t find decent work. Boomers are facing retirement with inadequate savings. And as the “arc of crisis” disintegrates into violence from Afghanistan to Libya, Americans fear getting mired once more in battles on the other side of the globe.

The issue for Democrats this midterm cycle is that President Obama has lost most of the public. Midterms are notoriously low turnout elections and unless progressives get fired up they’ll be out muscled by Republicans who are ready to rumble.