By: Chriss W. Street
According to the Washington Post, President Obama has been hammering at Democratic fundraisers for the past few months that his party always gets “clobbered in midterm elections.” Although the midterm elections are usually regarded as a referendum on the sitting President’s performance, the Washington Post says that Obama is wrong to “BE AFRAID OF THE MIDTERMS!” But with the President’s approval ratings on key issues according to a new Gallup poll at or below the 2010 lows that resulted in a Republican election landslide, Democrats should “Be Afraid” of an election wipeout in 2014.
When President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, his key strengths according to the Gallup polling were expected to be in protecting the nation’s environment, improving the nation’s energy policy and making America prosperous. A little over five years later, barely half of Americans believe he is doing a good job protecting the environment and only about one in four still believes Obama is doing a good job regarding energy or prosperity. The President’s dismal approval ratings are a mirror image of approval ratings during his first mid-term election, when the Democrats suffered crushing Congressional and state legislature defeats.
Since 2009, Obama has suffered a 39% overall decline in his key strengths. But more importantly, the President has suffered a 9% decline since the election in 2012. He now is at the same levels as his first mid-term election in 2010 when the Democrats suffered crushing defeats that saw Republicans take away 6 governorships, 6 Senate seats and 63 House of Representative seats.
But the biggest Republican victory that year was winning 720 legislative seats and taking control of 22 state legislative chambers; the second largest party victory in the history of the United States. The conquest easily eclipsed the GOP’s 1994 gains when they won a net 500 legislative seats and captured the majority in 20 more legislative bodies. When the dust settled, their 3,941 state legislators was the highest Republican control since the 4,001 seats they held in 1928 at the height of the Roaring Twenties.
President Obama did get reelected in 2012, but his coat-tails were modest as the Democrats gained back only 2 Senate seats and 6 House of House seats. The Republican’s picked-up one governor and increased their state legislature dominance by adding 34 seats to a recovery high of 3,975, leaving Democrats with just 3,319 seats.
With their dominant control, the Republicans will have an even greater electoral advantage in 2014 after using their state legislature majorities to redistrict federal and municipal district boundaries. The process is referred to as gerrymandering, because the party in power draws districts that favor their party incumbents and candidates.
Midterm elections are usually regarded as a referendum on the sitting President’s performance. The party of an incumbent President in the last 21 midterm elections has lost an average of 30 seats in the House and 4 Senate seats; in only two of those has the President’s party gained seats in both houses. But Obama has an incentive to increase his party’s sense of urgency seems appropriate after Republican David Jolly was trailing Democrat Alex Sink in a Florida special House of Representative election turned out to be a referendum on Obamacare.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey poll found that 42% of “Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable view of Obamacare, but 54% view it unfavorably. The real shock is that only 16% have a “Very Favorable” opinion of the new law and 42% with a “Very Unfavorable” one. High unfavorable in elections are the top motivator for get out the vote drives.
The Obama Administration has used Executive Orders 14 to delay implementing certain aspects of Obamacare until after the 2014 mid-term election. But by March 31st, individuals will be forced to purchase government-approved health insurance or pay a penalty called the “shared responsibility payment”.
Despite the offer of premium subsidies, a new study by Bankrate.com reveals that about “one-third of uninsured Americans are going to remain without coverage and opt to pay the penalty.” In fact, more than half of the uninsured are “unaware of the March 31 deadline.” Even by the Obama Administration calculations, approximately 11 million people are going to be forced to pay a fine for refusing to pay high premiums and the average $5,081 deductible for the cheapest Obamacare individual health plan.
With the President’s key issue approval ratings at or below the 2010 lows that resulted in a Republican mid-term election landslide and Obamacare dissatifaction expected to spike Republican turnout, Democrats should “Be Afraid” of an election wipeout in 2014.
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Chriss Street is teaching microeconomic at University of California, Irvine this spring from March 31 – June 8, 2014. Call Student Services at (949) 824-5414 or visit http://unex.uci.edu/courses to enroll!