What a confused mess of a campaign this is turning out to be.
I’ll preface with something from a couple of weeks ago which I didn’t write about at the time, but should have made the effort. Here’s Kimberly Strassel in the WSJ expelling why she thinks Nancy Pelosi is smiling:
Senate control is the priority, but the House deserves far more attention than it’s getting. John Boehner has his majority, but it is not often a governing (or governable) one. The speaker endlessly struggles to get to that magic number 218, often to his embarrassment and the detriment of good policy. (A favorite: the House’s stubborn refusal to accept his 2012 tax-cliff deal, which set up President Obama for an even greater tax-hike victory). Every additional member Mr. Boehner adds to his majority means additional flexibility in the coming Obama fights. It’s also a cushion against future losses.
And this is the year to do it. The party in the spring announced it was driving for 245 seats, up from 233, and described this as “ambitious.” Really? Republicans were obviously never going to replicate anywhere near their 63-seat pickup of 2010. Then again, President Obama’s approval rating is subterranean, even in solidly blue districts, and voters are fed up with ObamaCare, the economy, foreign policy, executive overreach and pretty much everything else Democrats are doing.
Adding a dozen House seats in this environment might be considered a gimme. Yet the latest betting is that Republicans will get only three to eight seats. Meaning, a blowout night for the GOP still lands it with a smaller majority than it had in 2010.
This goes straight to the heart of what I described this morning as the GOP’s lack of boldness and imagination, and why I’ve taken to thinking of them as the Cowed Old Party. They have a moment potentially as historic as 2010, but they either don’t see it or won’t act on it. What a waste.
It’s with that in mind that I read Tom Dougherty’s obituary for the Tea Party:
Prior to the Tea Party’s official inception, voters who were fed-up with being “taxed enough already” elected Marco Rubio (FL), Mike Lee (UT) and Ron Johnson (WI). And Pat Toomey (PA) and Rand Paul (KY) were already on the fiscal responsibility scene. Nevertheless, official Tea Party-backed efforts to elect candidates Christine O’Donnell (DE), Sharron Angle (NV), John Raese (WV), Ken Buck (CO) and Joe Miller (AK) failed.
These losses reduced the fledgling movement’s “win” rate to an unimpressive fifty percent.
In fact, exit poll results in 2010 showed that 41% of voters described themselves as supporters of this movement, and only 21% supported it strongly. Meanwhile, 31% said they opposed the movement, while the remaining 24% described themselves as “neutral.” Most importantly, of the 41% only 23% said they voted to send a message in favor of the Tea Party movement.
Fast forward to 2012. The Tea Party movement had morphed into a quasi-organized set of national groups focused on raising money to support conservatives. However, it turns out their focus was more on raising money than supporting candidates.
The Tea Party has been largely betrayed by exactly the kind of people it spontaneously formed in order to combat — our professional political class. Such a shame. Nevertheless, the movement itself may still be alive and well. For that, let’s go to that crazy Senate race in Kansas:
The Roberts campaign announced Monday that Cruz, a Tea Party favorite and potential presidential candidate, will join the senator on a bus tour that starts Thursday in Wichita. Retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma will also be on board.
Cruz is the latest big-name Republican to endorse Roberts, who is trailing independent Greg Orman in the reliably Republican state. Orman is leading Roberts by 10 percentage points among likely voters in an NBC News/Marist Institute poll released Sunday.
The GOP, having sabotaged its grassroots upstart in favor of its doddering incumbent, now has turned to grassroots favorite Ted Cruz to bolster the doddering incumbent it foisted on its grassroots. It’s like the Syrian Civil War with fewer beheadings. So far, anyway.
All of this confusion and infighting however brings us full circle to Strassel’s complaint. The Tatler’s Jen Hanin has that one for you:
The stats from this 2014 Gallup poll resembles the poll taken just before we witnessed the last huge gains for Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections. Gallup’s recent number crunching emphasizes two currently held crystalized beliefs resonating in voters: 1) Republicans abhor president Obama; and 2) Democrats are on the fence about Obama and question what his legacy will really be. Aside from our commander-in-chief’s solidarity for Trayvon Martin, Michelle’s bangs, the dinner party crashed via Michaela and Tareq Salahi and the recent hoopla over yet another White House intruder.
Together, these two major cemented beliefs among voters spell a win for conservatives in general in the November 4 elections as Obama’s support has systemically waned since the Benghazi cover-up video emerged, and has only deteriorated more with each scandal coming off the heels of increasingly controversial Obamacare. Bailing out Wall Street vs. the 5 million Americans who went belly up on their homes, then weathering the IRS scandal and the lost emails of Lois Lerner plus four other employees (making every American collectively scratch their head wondering whey they can’t lose our tax bills). Americans can’t sleep at night much less breathe without hearing about our porous borders and the forever plagued immigration reform, which is quickly dying on the vine. A clear lack of foreign policy gains in the Middle East has continually dogged Obama.
Every indicator points to big Republican gains except for one: The facts on the ground. The GOP looks to scratch out a weak 51 or 52-seat majority in the Senate, when 55 seats are ripe for the taking. And yet they struggle in races which ought to be low-hanging fruit.
Someday someone might write the parable of the elephant who starved do death between two fat consultants.