Friday, September 5, 2014

Is the Republican Wave Finally Starting to Recede?

In a word, yes!

Everywhere you look, voters are beginning to turn on the party they swept into power in 2010. After a stunning wave election that year gave Republicans partial control of Congress, along with several key state Houses, the air has been slowing escaping from the GOP balloon. They failed to win the Senate that year, then followed up that performance by getting trounced in 2012.

As if that wasn't bad enough, witness what's going on in this year's Senate races, which I wrote about in my last piece. What should've been a slam dunk is starting to more closely resemble a lame attempt at a layup. As things stand now, it's anybody's guess as to which party will hold the majority in 2015. In the House, most pollsters are predicting only modest gains for Republicans. In fairness, though, most of this is owed to the fact that, thanks to gerrymandering, there are very few tossup districts left in the country. That makes it very hard for either party to gain ground, especially in a midterm election.

But, while most of the country focuses on Congress, the real news is coming from the states, particularly those states with Republican governors. You want evidence that the electorate has just about had it with the Grand Old Party, then take a gander at these little tasty tidbits.

In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker is trailing his Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, by 4 points according to the latest polling. The RCP average has him down overall by one point. Even Rasmussen has him only ahead by a point. While some have focused on the investigation into Walker's ties with outside groups, the main reason he is behind in his race is Wisconsin's dismal economy. The state currently ranks 46th in new business creation. Not quite what the cheeseheads had in mind when they elected him four years ago.

Speaking of sinking economies, Kansas' is in free fall. Massive tax cuts over the last three years have led to declining tax revenues and, what's worse, a stunning lack of job creation; the exact opposite of what Sam Brownback predicted would happened when he won the governorship back in 2010. As a result, he is trailing his Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, by 8 points in the latest polling. And while the RCP average only has him down 2.8 percent, part of that average comes from a July poll showing him ahead 12 points. Absent that, this race is starting to look like a rout.

In Pennsylvania, Republican incumbent Tom Corbett is about as popular as a Penguins' fan on Broad Street. Democrat Tom Wolf is comfortably ahead of him by 15 points. In Arizona, Fred DuVal and Doug Ducey are tied according the latest poll by Rasmussen. As I said before, when Rasmussen shows a Democrat tied or ahead of a Republican in any race, something's up. And in Florida, land of sunshine and drive-by shootings, Republican Rick Scott is barely clinging to a 1.7 point lead over former governor Charlie Crist.

I could go on and on about the list of Republican governors who are on the ropes - Nathan Deal up by only 2 points in Georgia and Paul (bat-shit crazy) LaPage trailing in Maine - but you get the picture. The GOP has its hands full defending its winnings in that 2010 wave year.

Now, to be fair, several Democrats are in trouble in their gubernatorial races. Among them are Dannel Malloy in Connecticut and Pat Quinn in Illinois. As things stand now, it would take a miracle for either of them to win reelection.

But there is a significant difference between the two races in Connecticut and Illinois, as well as the one in Hawaii that also favors the GOP and the races in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. No one seriously believes that Connecticut, Illinois or Hawaii are in danger of voting Republican in 2016. But Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, along with Virginia which turned blue last year if you recall, are all swing states, crucial in a presidential election. Throw in Georgia and Arizona, two states that are likely to become purple within the next couple of years, and you have the makings of a genuine clusterfuck for Republicans.

And now to add insult to a possible serious injury, if Democrats gain control of these states, they can begin to undo all the gerrymandering the GOP put in place after the 2010 midterms. In other words, adios House majority. Imagine a President Hillary Clinton with both chambers of Congress in Democratic hands in 2017. While that might be a dream come true for you and me, it's a nightmare incarnate for conservatives, especially Tea Party conservatives, who only four years ago thought they would win back their country and restore it to whatever the fuck they thought it was.

Of course, it's still a little early to crow. Almost anything can happen in two months. Just this week, Democrat Chad Taylor pulled out of his race for senator in Kansas, supposedly giving Independent Greg Orman an advantage over incumbent Republican Pat Roberts. The GOP is contesting his withdrawal and the Kansas secretary of state has said Taylor's name will remain on the ballot. How this race winds up no one can tell.

But one thing is sure. 2014 is NOT going to be a wave election year. If the GOP is going to prevail, it will do so by its finger tips.

1 comment:

Prof. Walter Jameson said...


It seems to me that what you're describing in your essay is plain ol' anti-incumbancy. And, given everything that has gone on - or has NOT gone on - over the last half dozen years or so, it's not surprising. So, yes, whatever Republican wave may have existed, is pretty much over - and it's not going to be replaced with any Democratic waves, either. To be perfectly blunt, people are fed up with politics. Now, you may thinking that there is nothing new about that. But, no, this is different. Every recent sentiment study with which I've been involved indicates not only disgust with politicians and the political system, but also a strong feeling of betrayal; in other words, a feeling that the political system no longer works for the people, and actually works against them. What's even more alarming is that this sentiment appears to be cumulative, building up over the course of many years. What does this portend? No one can credibly lock that one down at this point. So, for now, we just file it under anti-incumbancy. But I'll go out on a limb here and make one prediction for the *very* long term: Our government, as it exists on this very day, will eventually transform into a parliamentary-type system - if we are lucky. In 1787, upon exiting from deliberations of the Constitutional Convention held at that grand old building in Philadelphia, Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman whether the new country's government would be a republic or a monarchy. Being quite direct, Franklin answered, "A republic, if you can keep it." Even then, Franklin - a really brilliant and creative man - realized that there would come a day, given the fragility of this type of governing system.

Are we witnessing the birth pangs of something new? Perhaps. The arguments are becoming increasingly stronger in support of that thesis.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.