Over at Real Clear Politics, I explain “How Republicans Can Blow It.”
While we shouldn’t assume the outcome in any of these close Senate races, it’s true that Republicans have inched ahead in many of the contested states where Democrats currently hold seats. However, it’s also true that Republicans have lost ground in the three states that nearly everyone assumed Republicans had in the bag: Georgia, Kansas and South Dakota.
If the electorate was experiencing a swing to the right, this split dynamic wouldn’t be happening.
In Georgia, the Republican David Perdue is wobbling after making a full-throated defense of outsourcing and deference to the wisdom of CEOs. In South Dakota’s four-way race, the two left-leaning candidates are the ones polling above 50 percent combined. And in Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts is proving that obstruction of Obama is not a winning message, even in a red state.
All of this undermines the prevailing conventional wisdom, that disapproval of President Obama is the driving force of the midterm campaign, weighing down Democrats everywhere. A fuller analysis of available polling – which would note that congressional Democrats poll worse than Obama, and congressional Republicans poll worst of all – suggests that the country is angry that the entirety of Washington is not able to act, particularly to boost the economy. There may be disappointment in Obama, but that does not translate into support for Republicans and their anti-government agenda.
The anti-Washington sentiment leaves both incumbent Democrats and Republicans vulnerable, and does not boost challengers who offer little in regards to how they will help the economy. Democrats may take the bigger lumps this year, as the 2014 map is skewed to the right. But those who interpret such a loss as evidence of a rising conservatism, declining liberalism and ineffectual populism may be in for a rude awakening soon enough.