We’re at war again in Iraq, the Never Great Recovery shows signs of stalling, Obamacare’s popularity continues to shrink despite Democratic promises to the contrary, President Barack Obama’s poll numbers look like my high school calculus test scores, and fewer people than ever approve of the job done by Congress. In the face of all these headwinds, as I don’t need to remind you, there’s a little midterm election coming up in November.
Incumbents versus angry voters -- who wins?
Well, that depends.
In the Senate, RCP averaging gives the GOP a seven-seat pickup in November, for a total of 52, and slim-but-effective control. The last time we looked, the GOP was going to net only five seats, giving Joe Biden the deciding vote to keep Harry Reid as majority leader.
What’s changed since June? For starters, reality is catching up to the poll results, giving Republican challenger Thom Tillis a leg up over Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan. Out of the polls sampled, only left-left-left leaning PPP gives Hagan the advantage, and that’s by just a single point. A quick look at Hagan’s official bio page reveals that the words "Democrat," "Obama," "Affordable Care Act," and "health care" are all MIA, but all of them seem to be haunting her with North Carolina voters.
Georgia has flipped from GOP to Dem and back again, now that GOP primary voters finally settled on an actual candidate in David Perdue. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is already fretting about Perdue helping to lead a "confrontational" GOP majority. We should be so lucky. His opponent, rookie Democrat Michelle Nunn, bears her popular father’s last name, and seems eager to promote how well she works with Republicans like George H.W. Bush and Orrin Hatch. If there’s a telling detail in how far and how fast Democrats in red states are running from the Obama record, that might be it.
Rounding out the changes since our last report, Iowa and Arkansas have both flipped from D to R.
In Iowa, Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley are locked in an epic battle. Ernst entered the race in the low-30s, a good six-to-eight points below Braley. But she seems to have solidified her base, edging just ahead in the mid-40s. Braley has run a problematical race, to put it gently, and may have trouble sealing the deal with independent Iowa voters, who might not fully support a candidate with a habit of talking down to his would-be constituents. In short, Braley is a little too weird and far too mean-spirited to connect with decent midwestern folk like I grew up with. If Ernst can commit to the retail politicking Iowans love, then this race won’t be nearly as close as it looks today.