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by
Rick Moran

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September 15, 2013 - 7:45 am

Syria, a moribund economy, and sinking presidential approval numbers may all work to undermine Democratic efforts to retake the House and hang on to the Senate in 2014.

Charlie Cook:

Stepping back, midterm elections are, more often than not, referenda on the White House occupant. While the president’s name is not on the ballot, voters usually register their approval or disapproval of the administration through their votes for Congress. Obama’s job-approval ratings are currently in the low- to mid-40s, roughly where George W. Bush’s were at this point in his second term (his later dropped as low as 31 percent). Obama’s disapproval ratings are running just above his approval ratings—never a good sign—but the president’s numbers are not yet radioactive.

The other relevant political axiom to keep in mind is that Americans often vote their pocketbooks, based on their perceptions of how the national economy is doing, how they are doing, and whether they are seeing the economy through a hopeful or a pessimistic lens. The U.S. economy, as measured by real gross domestic product, grew at a very healthy pace of 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012. However, for the remaining three quarters of last year and first two quarters of this year, the recovery did not proceed nearly as steadily: Growth ranged from as low as one-tenth of 1 point in the fourth quarter of last year to 2.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Growth is not at the pace that you would want coming out of the longest, deepest, and most diffuse economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The consensus of 55 top economists surveyed by Blue Chip Economic Indicators earlier this month called for the economy to increase by 2.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013 and 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, with growth gradually rising to between 2.7 percent and 3 percent over the course of next year; the economists project unemployment to be at 6.8 percent in the final quarter of next year, somewhat better than the current level.

Consumer confidence is a bit off its six-year high but still not remotely near the bullish years from 1983 through 2007. So, yes, people are feeling better about the economy than they did during the recession, but the numbers still aren’t good.

A mediocre economy is certainly not an asset for the party holding the White House, but it may not be a strong drag, either. If Obama’s job ratings bounce around at or under 40 percent for long, Democrats should worry that the historic trend of the president’s party losing ground in the House may catch up with them. But these are the typical dynamics for a midterm election. Syria would definitely complicate matters.

Cook never mentions Obamacare which may be a non-issue by the time mid-terms roll around. Unless lightening strikes and the ACA is repealed, defunded, or declared unconstitutional, it will be what it will be next fall – still a mess, probably more expensive, but fading as an issue as the numbers of new enrollees shrinks.

The interesting thing about Syria is that Obama will have a choice to make once Assad is shown to be delaying and blocking the UN inspectors from doing their jobs. Does he once again raise the specter of military action? If Assad were to use the Saddam playbook, such threats would be met by a retreat — just enough to satisfy most of the world and prevent an attack.

The depressing reality is that, as we saw with Saddam, such game playing could go on for years.

It will be the health – or lack thereof- of the economy that will make the difference. Democrats can hardly be optimistic if voters cast their ballot based on how many part time jobs were created and how we’re growing just fast enough to avoid slipping into another recession. For that reason, the GOP should pick up a few seats in the House and may come close to taking over the Senate.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Moran, as usual, can't see the forest for the trees.

The Dems may indeed suffer losses, perhaps big losses, in the 2014 mid-terms, but it won't be because of the economy which has been down so long, it's beginning to look normal. It also won't be because of Obamacare which does have the potential to anger many people, but I sense people will give it time for the glitches to be ironed out, unless the problems all come on top of each other. Nor will Syria cause many to vote against the Dems, as they were too smart to blindly support Obama's half-assed foreign policy.

If anything hurts the Dems in 2014, it will be issues like gun control, and that is why I hope they keep pushing it, and threatening to pass stupid laws which do nothing but harass legitimate gun owners. All politics are local, and it's the onerous local issues which hurt a party, but the consequences have to be seen as purely the result of that party's policies.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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Used to be one expected a cyclical downturn after a period of good years, but this recovery fluctuates between optimistic and disappointing economic reports.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
One might still expect some sort of cyclical downturn after a period of "good years", but one hopes to experience some "good years" first. Otherwise it will be difficult to recognize a downturn, as opposed to the misery of this "recovery".
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would disagree that ACA will fade as issue. I believe it will actually become more of an issue as its failures mount.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait a minute. I'm very concerned by a theme that's making the rounds that Mr. Moran is furthering. Namely, "If Assad were to use the Saddam playbook, such threats would be met by a retreat — just enough to satisfy most of the world and prevent an attack."

Did I miss something, or is it not public knowledge that Saddam did not, at the time of the 2nd Iraq war, have the weapons of mass destruction that the Bush administration presumed he did? Isn't all the US recovered by 2006 some badly degraded chemical weapon shells in an unusable state dating back to the Iran-Iraq War? So what "Saddam playbook to deceive the world" are we referring to here? Surely not how he made sure the Iranians thought he still had a few to keep the Mullahs from invading?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, your "public knowledge" is a myth fostered by the Left. We KNOW Saddam had chemical WMD because he used them on the Kurds and Iranians. Saddam shipped the remaining chemical WMD off to Syria when he realized the US was determined to invade. We also found strong evidence that Saddam was trying to develop nuclear WMD, and he was deceiving the world about that, as well.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Moran, as usual, can't see the forest for the trees.

The Dems may indeed suffer losses, perhaps big losses, in the 2014 mid-terms, but it won't be because of the economy which has been down so long, it's beginning to look normal. It also won't be because of Obamacare which does have the potential to anger many people, but I sense people will give it time for the glitches to be ironed out, unless the problems all come on top of each other. Nor will Syria cause many to vote against the Dems, as they were too smart to blindly support Obama's half-assed foreign policy.

If anything hurts the Dems in 2014, it will be issues like gun control, and that is why I hope they keep pushing it, and threatening to pass stupid laws which do nothing but harass legitimate gun owners. All politics are local, and it's the onerous local issues which hurt a party, but the consequences have to be seen as purely the result of that party's policies.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Nor will Syria cause many to vote against the Dems, as they were too smart to blindly support Obama's half-assed foreign policy."

"Nor will Syria cause many to vote against the Dems, as they weren't stupid enough to blindly support Obama's half-assed foreign policy."

Fixed it for ya.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Unless lightening strikes..."

...,Francis.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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