Not too many months ago the Republican Party - often some of its worse elements - were boasting that the GOP would easily gain control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 mid-term elections. Now such boasts - dare we say hubris - do not look like such a sure thing. A column in the Washington Post looks at what went wrong (and hopefully will continue to go wrong) for the GOP. Here are excerpts:
There is something deeply satisfying about the troubles punditry is having in nailing down exactly what’s happening in the 2014 elections.The obvious reason for the uncertainty is that many of the key Senate races are still very close in the polls. This should encourage a degree of humility among those of us who love to offer opinions about politics. Humility is a useful virtue not always on display in our business. The unsettled nature of the election also sends a salutary signal to the electorate. As Howard Dean might put it: You have the power. Voting will matter this year.It is not my habit to agree with Karl Rove, but he was on to something in his Wall Street Journal column last Thursday when he wrote that “each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.”Rove’s focus, not surprisingly, was on money. . . . Rove acknowledged that the big-dollar Republican groups have yet to commit all the cash they have raised, so the TV advertising gap “is likely to shrink.” But the GOP’s real problem in closing the deal is about more than money.Spending doesn’t work unless candidates and parties have a case to make, and this gets to why we have yet to see either a clear trend or a dominant theme emerge in this campaign. Many swing voters may be in a mood to punish or put a check on President Obama. Yet Democrats might still hang on if voters decide that life and government will be no better with a legislative branch entirely under GOP control.Underlying the Democrats’ argument that a Republican-led Senate will be no day at the beach is the fact that their conservative opponents are offering little of practical help to voters still unsettled by the economic downturn, and might make things worse.Thus, even in conservative states, Democrats are zeroing in on Republican opposition to government programs aimed at solving particular problems. Their arguments and ads reflect a reality: Voters who might dislike government in the abstract often support the concrete things government can do.In Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes launched a Web ad on Friday criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading a filibuster against Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill to bring down interest rates on student debt. “We want our students getting degrees, not debt,” Grimes says. Students are portrayed echoing the “degrees not debt” theme.I’ll try to practice some of the humility I’m preaching by acknowledging that I have no idea whether Republicans will take the six seats they need to control the Senate. Maybe their incessant assaults on Obama will prove to be enough. But an election that once looked to be a Republican slam dunk has even Karl Rove worried, because many voters seem to want to do more with their ballots than just slap the president in the face.
I continue to pray that the Democrats hold the Senate so as to block the worse of the GOP's new Gilded Age, reverse Robin Hood agenda.