Larry Sabato whips out his crystal ball and declares that 2014 could be a GOP year. He cites three factors: The president’s unpopularity, the weak economy, and the playing field — who is having to defend what in the House and Senate elections. All three favor the Republicans, even if the economy starts improving a bit.
Obamacare is the issue of the year, and that will not favor the Democrats unless the president’s unpopular program turns a sharp corner. That’s not likely. The administration will keep moving the goal posts on what constitutes success, and the national media will mostly get in line, but the fact is, Obamacare is driving health insurance costs up for millions, reducing access, increasing deductibles, and the employer mandate hasn’t even kicked in yet. It is not going to be a winner for them, less so now that progressives are admitting that Obamacare was a scam to push a government-run system all along. The program has never been popular. Now it’s revealed as every bit the scam that the Tea Party said it was.
The usual caveats apply: The Republicans could blow this opportunity in several ways. They could fritter away finite resources on unnecessary primaries against each other. They could nominate dopes (establishment or Tea Party, dopes come from all corners) who cost them seats. They could decide that beating up on each other is more important than beating the other side.
Sabato didn’t add those caveats, I did. For instance, I’ll go on the record right now and say that the primary against Sen. John Cornyn in Texas is a bad idea. I have no particular problem with his opponent, Rep. Steve Stockman, but Cornyn is far from the worst Republican senator. He’s usually among the best. He made a huge blunder in backing Crist over Rubio, but his overall voting record is quite conservative. National Journal rated him more conservative than conservative lion Jim DeMint, based on his actual votes. It’s hard to see Stockman or anyone else improving on that record, and Ted Cruz’s influence has drawn Cornyn into articulating ever more conservative stances. The pair give the nation’s largest conservative state a strong blend of experience and edge. Even the Tea Party’s best can turn out to be disappointments, with Sen. Rubio a shining example of that for supporting the Senate’s immigration bill while not challenging Democrats who smeared that bill’s opponents.
Allowing the imagined perfect to become the enemy of the actual good is a big risk.