Yesterday brought very bad news for Democrats running for office this year. A special congressional election in Florida's 13th district pitted a Democrat with excellent name-recognition, a woman who almost won the state's last gubernatorial election, running in a district that went for Barack Obama in each of the last two elections, and who outspent her opponent by over a million dollars, against a relative unknown Republican, a former lobbyist who was recently divorced and is dating a woman fourteen years his junior. Nevertheless, despite all the advantages enjoyed by the Democrat, the Republican won by almost two points despite having to split the vote with a third party libertarian candidate.
The Republican, David Jolly, ran against Obamacare. The Democrat, Alexis Sink, had to defend Obamacare while painting her opponent as a climate-change denier, which he evidently is. Her message, however, simply failed to appeal to enough voters to swing the election in her favor, even though she was predicted by many observers to win it.
I don't want to suggest that this means more than it does, but I do think there's some reason here to think that the Democrats are in real trouble come this November. The Florida district was considered one of the best chances the Dems had for picking up a congressional seat. They need a net 17 pickups in November to win back the House of Representatives, but if they couldn't win this one it's hard to see where else they will win.
Moreover, the GOP needs a net pickup of six senate seats to retake the Senate. There are at least seven Democrat senators up for reelection in states that went for Romney in 2012 and three or four more in states where the Democrat candidate is vulnerable.
Democrat candidates will be forced to defend their vote for Obamacare, which much of the country is angry over, and few voters care much about the climate change issue, which many believe to be overblown. Nor do they care for raising taxes, rising gasoline prices, a weak economy, amnesty for illegals, gun control, and gay marriage, all issues that a Democrat candidate will be running on.
Moreover, Democrats were helped in 2008 and 2012 by having Mr. Obama at the head of the ticket. He was very popular in 2008, less so in 2012, but he nevertheless attracted millions of minority and younger voters to the polls who voted for the down-ticket Dems as well as the guy at the top. Unfortunately, for Democrat candidates in 2014 Mr. Obama is not on the ballot, and it's not likely that a Dem candidate will be able to count on a big turnout among minorities and younger voters. Also, Mr. Obama's popularity right now is at a dangerously low ebb so just being a member of his party does not brighten one's electoral prospects.
All of these considerations are why many political prognosticators are predicting that, come November, the Republicans will retain the House and enjoy at least a 50-50 chance of taking back the Senate. If that happens American politics is going to get very interesting as the House and Senate work in concert to reign in Mr. Obama's imperial presidency.