Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hot Air And Hard Questions

Yesterday might not have meant much to you personally, however, in places from Massachusetts to Texas, yesterday was primary election day - the first regular primary of the 2014 elections.

In other words, for anyone involved in politics, it's 'Go Time.'

For those "on the field" - the politicians, political organizations, and volunteers - now is often the time when candidates seeking to separate themselves from all the other political hopefuls in their own party begin to make promises about all the things they'll do if elected. The problem, of course, is that some of these claims are simply hot air, bluster and promises that one person elected to office could never realistically achieve by themselves.

Not surprisingly, the more desperate a candidate is - even if they're running for reelection - the more likely they'll say or do something stupid. Senator Lindsey Graham was a perfect example of this yesterday, when he made a fool of himself on Twitter, blaming the often debunked right-wing ideological chew-toy of Bengahzi for Russia's invasion of the Ukraine.

When a candidate is forced to explain exactly where they're getting their crazy ideas, or how - exactly - they expect to put into action the claims they float during election season, many candidates simply have no clue of how they'll answer. Most candidates today are thankful then, since many of today's media members are either starry-eyed or incompetent and won't ever ask them the questions that might burst their election balloons.

Thankfully, some of our more talented colleagues in the media like Greg Sargent at The Plum Line have been watching the electoral baseline for 2014 for some time now, in preparation of this year's elections. Frankly, we don't think the election looks as good for Republicans as many other pundits are claiming.

As Sargent pointed out Tuesday morning, and as Alan Abramowitz pointed out last Thursday, Republicans enter the 2014 midterm elections with a significant structural advantage. Six years ago, President Obama and a wave of Democratic candidates swept into office - and many of the elections they won were in seats that only marginally leaned towards those Democratic candidates. Now, many of those same Democratic politicians have to defend the seats they won six years ago - and it's likely they'll lose more than a few of them.

That said, as Sargent also noted, Democrats hold a significant advantage on both key issues and overall image. In other words, as the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll confirmed, Americans agree more with Democrats than Republicans on a host of key issues.

One of those issues for Republicans - in fact, the single biggest issue they've built their 2014 campaigns on - has been Obamacare. Unfortunately, as Sargent has also been noting lately, Republicans are now in a serious bind on that very issue.

In short, with every day Obamacare is in effect, Americans continue to like and accept Obamacare more. In addition, after five years of floating their hot air about "repeal and replace", Republicans still don't have a realistic replacement for Obamacare - and most Americans are no longer in favor of repealing the law.

As Sahil Kapur of TPM points out, that may mean Republicans' biggest single political weapon may be effectively worthless in the 2014 races - a prospect that could significantly change a large number of final outcomes by the time this fall's General Election rolls around, as the hot air and trial balloons holding up Republicans bursts.

We might suggest that Republicans - and the media pundits blowing hot air up their shorts - start planning on a different strategy for the fall. Somehow, we just don't think candidates constantly asking members of the media "What kind of question is that?" is going to end up with them winning big in November.