Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eating Their Own

As we mentioned on Tuesday, Democratic candidates across America are looking at this year's elections with some anxiety as they face multiple structural problems - not the least of which is a tradition of low voter turnout for Democratic voters in midterm elections.

That's really no surprise, especially in the U.S. Senate races. Six years ago, in 2008, it was a wave election for Democrats. Not only did Americans elect our first mixed-race President ever, they also elected large numbers of Democrats to both houses of Congress, many from places Democratic candidates rarely-if-ever have success. Six years later - one short Senate term - Democrats now have to defend many of those same Senate seats in geographic regions that haven't seriously favored progressive candidates since the 1960s.

That doesn't mean Republicans will have a problem-free election season. Outside of the normal racism, classism, and misogyny that modern Republicans have become known for, Republicans have several other serious challenges this year - especially in typically reliable "red" states.

As extremist right-wing ideology has continued to take over the GOP during the past decade, much of the mass media, including cable "news" channels have chosen to pander to those same extremists, due to the many millions of dollars in right-wing propaganda advertising. That ideological slant has, in-turn, driven more moderate, sensible Republicans away from politics.

For Republicans, that's often left a pile of candidates - like the six Republicans now competing to become Nebraska's next governor - that either believe the extremism they preach, or pretend to be extremists, so as not to be "outed" as somewhat sane.

That fact alone already makes many of the Republican primary races this year appear more like a dinner party for cannibals.

Another major problem Republicans are facing is the challenge of not cannibalizing their voters by focusing exclusively on a single subject that - frankly - voters don't want to hear about anymore. Following that campaign plan could leave Republicans with one of the same major problems Democrats are now worried about: Turning off potential voters enough that they won't get out and vote.

For a political party that was planning on having their candidates run exclusively against Obamacare, that single-subject shutdown could become a major complication for Republicans.

Indeed, as Dylan Scott of TPM noted yesterday, the latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey confirms - Americans are increasingly making it clear they're done talking about Obamacare. According to the survey, about half of Republican voters, and more than fifty percent of all Americans of any other political affiliation have said the topic no longer needs to be discussed, as it's been settled.

What's even more problematic for Republicans, as Kevin Drum made clear in Mother Jones on Wednesday, is that as problems with the ACA get resolved, opposition to Obamacare continues to shrink, and Americans are liking it more. That means the issue has been settled - but not in a way that benefits those on the political right.

That leaves Republicans running for office this year chomping at the bit, with no accomplishments to brag about, no serious policy distinctions to bite into - and only personal attacks on each other as a topic they can sink their teeth into.

All we can say to that is 'Bon appetit.'