Thursday, February 27, 2014

Republicans Stronger Than Democrats for November Midterms

This is a "generic ballot" poll on party prospects for the November elections to the House of Representatives, at NYT, "G.O.P., Though Deeply Split, Has Election Edge, Poll Shows." (At Memeorandum.)

The poll finds that 42 percent say they'll support GOP candidates in November and 39 percent like the Democrats -- a statistically insignificant result since it's within the polls margin of error. But here's the findings on the ObamaCare clusterf-k: The nationwide poll was conducted Feb. 19 to 23 by landline and cellphone among 1,644 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all adults and plus or minus 6 points for Republicans, Democrats and independents. The survey comes more than eight months before Election Day, and less than a quarter of those who responded said they were paying a lot of attention to the 2014 election, meaning that each party has ample opportunity to sway voters.

One issue, though — the Affordable Care Act — seems to have solidified some opposition to Democrats, and historical trends such as an older, whiter midterm electorate are also favorable to Republicans.

“It seems all the Democrats are for Obamacare, and I think this is a really bad deal,” Larry Walker, an independent voter from Torrance, Calif., said in a follow-up interview.

Mr. Obama’s approval rating is now at 41 percent, with 51 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his performance, his worst standing in the past two years, with the exception of a CBS News survey last November in the midst of the troubled rollout of the new health care law. Such ratings amount to an early political alarm for Democrats on the ballot this year. When a party controls the White House, its performance in midterm congressional elections typically tracks closely to the popularity of the sitting president in the fall.
There's much in there that's unfavorable to the Republicans, but frankly 2014's looking to be a referendum on the Democrat Party's performance on the economy and healthcare, and they're not coming up roses.

Here's the raw survey questionnaire at the New York Times, "Complete Results: New York Times/CBS News February Poll." President Obama's job disapproval on the economy is 57 percent. And the level of dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Washington is nearly off the charts. Almost half of those polled said they were "dissatisfied but not angry" (49 percent), and then another 30 percent are "angry" (a total of 79 percent unhappy campers). Also, on another measure, 37 percent are "very disappointed" with the Obama presidency, while 22 percent are "disappointed" (a total of 59 percent who are "disappointed" with this administration). And in separate questions, voters said that both parties needed to do much more to address "the needs and concerns of middle class voters" (75 percent said Republicans should do more and 69 said Democrats should do more). Finally, exactly half thought Congress should make changes to ObamaCare "to make it work better" while 42 percent thought it should be "repealed entirely."

In sum, basic bread-and-butter issues are driving voter concerns this year, and neither party is seen well among respondents. But Democrats are most vulnerable on issues that rank front-and-center with the electorate, the economy, economic mobility, and healthcare. As I've reported many times, analysts don't expect much change in the House of Representatives, and in fact Democrats have little chance of retaking the chamber in the fall. But as I've said, it's the Senate where the real action is, and some experts suggest the Democrats could be looking at losses of close to 10 seats (the GOP needs 6 seats to capture the majority). I don't see anything at this poll that's likely to dislodge those expectations, and certainly vulnerable incumbents like Kay Hagan are literally running away from questions on the Democrats' once-marquee issue, ObamaCare. See United Liberty, "NC Senate: Kay Hagan runs away from reporters asking about Obamacare."

RELATED: My ideologically-addled antagonist Martin Longman, of BooMan Tribune, is having illusions of Democrat victory in November, "Curtis Gans Says the Dems Can Win in November." Gans (cited there) is a progressive political analyst who's got an interesting (if deeply flawed) piece up at the far-left Washington Monthly, "Midterm Signals and Noise: Why Democrats Could Do Better in November Than Everyone Thinks." After his discussion of the "signals and noise," here's what Gans says on the Democrats' surprisingly (fantastically) good chances for the fall:
Despite current conventional wisdom, such an election [Democrat wave election] is not only possible but probable, but only if three signals occur - if September polls, the polls taken when people are paying attention to the upcoming election, show a substantial improvement in Obama’s approval rating and an equally substantial increase in public support of the Affordable Care Act, and if the economy does not relapse into recession.
Gans has been smoking double-dipped Thai sticks until they're coming out his ears. None of these three things is going to happen. There is no miracle that will lift Obama's public opinion numbers into the plus-50 range (an approval level he'd need to change voters' electoral behavior). He may get back into the high-forties, but for him to gain majority approval again, we'd need robust economic growth with a substantial drop in the unemployment rate, which isn't likely. (It doesn't matter if the economy has a "relapse back into recession," since voters are already angry about the economy right now. They'll only be further enraged should the unemployment rate head north once again --- which is not a foregone conclusion considering Obama's record of economic mismanagement). And while the opinion trends on ObamaCare have probably bottomed out, recall, as Megan McArdle has pointed out, even worse news on the law's mangled roll-out may be yet to come.

Those are the key factors I'm expecting to influence the November results. All the rest is noise, hilariously so in the context of the predictive model of Curtis Gans, and apparently Martin Longman as well.

The Democrats are going to get hammered. I can't see any realistic scenario in which the factors highlighted at the Times poll, or those "three signals" cited by Gans, show a dramatic and politically significant turnaround. If it's going to be a "wave election," it's going to be a GOP wave. Screw the leftist bastards. Democrats rammed the ObamaCare monstrosity down the throats of the American public on a straight party-line vote. Now all they can do is lie about how the Republicans are exploiting ObamaCare "insurance losers" and inventing ObamaCare "horror stories."

It's not going to be pretty, but I'll have more later, as always.