EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 23, 2014

Column: Democrats' dire November has been in cards for months

Somewhat belatedly, Democrats are realizing their party may take a political bath in November’s mid-term congressional elections. Republicans are sure of it.

The official Democratic line, expressed last week by senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer and party chief Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is that the party will keep its Senate majority.

But Pfeiffer conceded last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “this is a tough map for Democrats” because so many races are in Republican-dominated states. Former senior adviser David Plouffe acknowledged on Bloomberg’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” “We have a turnout issue.”

And former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, displaying unusual candor, acknowledged on “Meet the Press,” “there is real danger the Democrats could suffer big losses,” including “definitely” their Senate majority.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus showed greater confidence, telling a Christian Science Monitor breakfast last Tuesday he expects “a tsunami type election” giving his party “a very big win,” especially in the Senate.

Priebus has political history and the underlying fundamentals on his side. Both favor a significant GOP victory this November that would include recapturing the Senate and increasing its House majority.

It would severely limit President Barack Obama’s chances of additional legislative achievements, barring an unexpected outbreak of bipartisan cooperation.

Still, Obama’s veto pen, and the ability of Senate Democrats to use the same procedural roadblocks as have GOP senators, could prevent even a solidly Republican Congress from passing many initiatives or killing Obama’s cherished Affordable Care Act.

For students of electoral history, a dire Democratic outcome has been in the cards for months.

In the last 80 years, only Bill Clinton in 1998 escaped a serious mid-term defeat six years after gaining the White House. That was when the GOP’s ill-fated decision to impeach him over the Monica Lewinsky affair backfired because a majority of Americans continued to support his conduct of the presidency.

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