Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not So Fast

According to a piece in The Huffington Post, Democratic prospects for taking the House in 2014 are looking good. Very good, in fact. The optimism is based on a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling which shows that Democrats could net as many as 49 seats. In other words, a wave election similar to that of the 2010 midterms that saw the GOP sweep into power.

This is not the first time we've seen projections of a sea change in the House. Back in June, another poll conducted by Democracy Corps also hinted that Republicans were in danger of losing the House and for the same reasons: voter dissatisfaction with the GOP. Obviously, with the government shutdown not sitting well with a majority of voters, Democrats are understandably giddy.

Well, at the risk of once more being labeled a Debbie Downer, I'm not as enthusiastic. Don't get me wrong, if Democrats take the House next year, I'll be doing cart wheels. But before anyone goes popping champagne corks, there are a number of obstacles in the road to victory that could prove problematic.

First, while it's true the Tea Party-led insurrection that led to the government shutdown badly damaged the GOP, the problem for Democrats is that the midterm elections are still a year away. Twelve months is a lifetime in politics. In fact, it's a couple of lifetimes. If there's one thing we've learned from the GOP it's that they are extremely adept at spinning their way out of any predicament; even those predicaments they get themselves into.

Secondly, Obamacare hasn't exactly gotten off to a rousing start. There's no way to soft soap this: the website has been a brutal disaster. The irony here is had the Republicans not been so obsessed with shutting down the government in a hissy fit and instead sat back and let the healthcare law kick in, it's entirely conceivable that instead of talking about Tea Party extremism, we'd be talking about government incompetence. Guess what Republicans will be fixated on in the months ahead?

One bright spot that Democrats can hang their hats on is that Ted Cruz and company apparently haven't learned their lesson and are preparing for another go around at derailing the Affordable Care Act. Cruz has been adamant that he will do whatever it takes to stop Obamacare no matter how much damage it does to his party's standing. Mitch McConnell will have his hands full in the Senate trying to stop him.

The civil war that is about to engulf the GOP is another bright spot for Democrats. Primary challenges are almost certain to topple some establishment Republicans, which will give Democratic opponents in the general election a considerable advantage. Can you say Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin?

All things considered, I'd much rather be a Democrat going into 2014 than a Republican. I'm just not as optimistic when it comes to making grandiose predictions. I'm cautious that way. Maybe it's the Mets fan in me. I'm used to getting my heart broken.

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