November, November: Hurst Warns Early Celebration Could Return to Haunt Republicans
By Alexander Hurst '12
Common wisdom sees doom and gloom for the Democrats come November. However, if we have learned anything from this past summer — or from the 2008 election, where Obama trailed even into September — it’s that with elections, never mind the actual governing of the country, some things change quickly. So, here are my predictions on what will happen from now until the fall, and why November won’t be the Democratic bloodbath Republicans are hoping for.

The Republicans Peaked Too Early

If there is one thing I can dispassionately congratulate the Republican Party for, it is playing their strategy perfectly. With nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing in total opposition to the Democrats and Obama (helped by the fact that the party they stood against was the unsurprisingly feckless Democrats…), they said “NO!” loudly and repeatedly. However, even though the Republicans managed to energize their base and seemingly draw every last one of the crazies out of the woodwork and into the political arena, it happened too soon. They captured the narrative on health care a year too early, and while their tactics worked, trends are reversing — with the Cook Report upgrading races in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and North Carolina to “Lean D” from “Toss up” and “Lean R.” It’s incredibly difficult to keep political momentum going, and if the Democrats play their cards right, I think we will see support swing back to the left in national polling over the next few months and into the summer, partly because…

Health Care Passes

People support health care reform. The Republicans have cried loudly that the American people are against the Democrats’ plans for health care reform, and initial polls seem to support their claims, with majorities opposing the current health care bill before the Senate. However, polls that followed up opponents with the simple question, “Why?” find that 37 percent of these are in opposition because the bill does not go far enough. In the case of a McClatchy/Ipsos poll from the end of February, that transforms numbers from 41 percent for and 47 percent opposed to 59 percent for and 30 percent opposed.

Citizens United

Discussions about whether we should even have a democracy aside, the reality is that we do have a democracy, Americans are not all acutely analytical politics junkies and Americans unite in opposition to the Citizens United ruling. Politicians and candidates from both parties can only gain by opposing the ruling, vowing to support a campaign finance constitutional amendment or introducing other legislation to combat the effects of the ruling — regardless of the success of those efforts. The Democrats would be wise to take the lead on this.

Obama Attempts Immigration Reform

Don’t call me 100 percent certain on this one, but I think it would be a brilliant political move by the Obama administration. If you think the summer tea-bagging and fear-mongering was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet — just wait for the hate-fest that any attempt at immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers will arouse. Anti-immigrant sentiment will engulf the right. This will cause a fracture between Tea Party and the business-establishment wing of the Republican Party that realizes America’s demographics are changing. Which brings me to my next point.

Salvation In The Tea Leaves

Remember that congressional race from a while back in New York between Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava? Owens won a seat that had been Republican-held for over 100 years because of the entry of far-right candidate Doug Hoffman into the race. There is already evidence that Republican infighting regarding the “purity” of candidates’ conservatism and the Tea Party could Scozzafava other Republican candidates this fall, or at the very least eat up party resources through primary challenges (let’s hope none of them reads this).

Nevada — Harry Reid is definitely in the hole against any Republican candidate he may face, either Sue Lowden or Danny Tarkanian. However, the race will tighten to within a few points when Tea Party candidate John Ashjian joins the mix, polling at nine percent and 11 percent in the respective possible match-ups.

Florida — Tea Partier Marco Rubio currently leads Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the primaries. While Crist’s trends show him sliding as of late, I think this race will end up being close. Things may get interesting after the Republican Primary. If Crist manages to eke out a victory and Democrat Kendrick Meek still looks rather weak (both Rubio and Crist currently lead him by over 10 points), I think there’s a fairly good chance that Rubio will stay in the race as a third party candidate. Alternately, if Rubio wins, could Crist pull an Arlen Specter and switch parties? As far as Republicans go, he is one of the moderates, and depending on how badly he wants the seat and how insulted he feels by Rubio’s campaign, this might not be worth discounting, even if the probability is low.

Of course, as always, the biggest electoral catalyst is the actions of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats. Whether it’s a public option or true financial regulation, it’s ultimately up to them to give their disaffected supporters something tangible to show that hope and change are still worth believing in.

Issue 18, Submitted 2010-03-10 02:32:15