Thursday, May 2, 2013

Election 2014: The Obi Wan Kenobi Gambit?

At 100 days into his second term, Obama got asked by a reporter if he'd "lost his juice." He brushed it off--or tried to, anyway--but it's certainly true that for someone who came out to the Correspondents Dinner to All I Do Is Win he hasn't won a lot this time around.

The relevant question, though, is: will he win in 2014?

Sean Trende, RCP's analyst, predicts that "all things being equal" the Democrats will lose modestly in the House--but, probably not enough to make a big difference.
What happens when we put this all together? Democrats have quite a lot of work to do to take back the House. President Obama would probably have to get his job approval into the high 60s, and the economy probably has to take off. It would probably require a pro-Obama wave akin to 2010-in-reverse. Again, not impossible, but not very likely.

At the same time, things probably have to deteriorate quite a bit for the Democrats before Republicans can expect even low double-digit gains. There just aren’t enough vulnerable Democratic seats to expect big gains, absent some significant wave. Somewhere between a five-seat Democratic pickup and a 15 seat Republican gain seems a safe prediction for now.
That's the basic game--and it's the "smart money" too. It's what the models show.
The results of the midterm forecasting model indicate that while Democrats have a real chance to buck the normal pattern of midterm elections and gain seats in the House of Representatives, they are unlikely to pick up the 17 seats that they would need to regain control of the chamber. That outcome would require a wave election like 2006 or 2010. But the 2014 midterm election is unlikely to be a wave election.
Indeed, it isn't--even if we got D+8 (the 2012 national election) the pick-ups look like this:
There's NO WAY It'll Be D+8 in November 2014! Can't Happen.
Of Course ... Of Course ... But MAAAYBE ...
We know there's no way minority voters--black voters--who, proportionally turned out at a higher rate than white voters in 2012 will come back to the polls without a black man, Barack Obama, running, of course. But maaaybe--just maaaybe the people who felt empowered in 2012 will return in 2014.

We know that women surpassed men in 2012--perhaps the whole war-on-women thing had some currency there--but we know in midterms the population is older ... and male (and white). Of course.

But maaaybe--just maaaybe--there was some recent issue the Democrats might use to galvanize them and get them back to the polls. What about the significant gender-gap on women vs. men when it comes to guns. The Democrats lost that one--and Obama looked pretty weak, of course--but maaaybe their failure could be used to galvanize women voters in a mid-term?

Consider the Latino vote--Rubio is making inroads with the Gang of 8 proposal--but even with him pushing it, it's likely to fail. Especially if the Dems introduce a gay rights amendment into it. It's conspiracy-theory to think the Democrats would tank their own immigration bill--of course--of course. But maybe--just maaaybe--the gay issue could be being used to not only pull the Latino vote but also the youth vote.

The problem from a strategic standpoint is not so much that Obama is well loved or, certainly, has done a great job--the problem is that he is far better at using his failures to mobilize a base that was, for the first time, hyper-mobilized--and won in 2012--than any candidate in the history of candidates.

Turn On Your Voter Targeting Computer, Luke
This, of course, is the tech-gap that Team Obama built--and the Democrats are continuing to expand on in preparation for 2016. We know that Obama can reach individual voters in targeted districts in a way no campaign has ever seen before. What if losing in the first 100 days is part of the plan?

It turns out, the GOP isn't worried:
The Obama campaign’s superior ground game is a myth. They claim they have double and triple the people and offices across the country, yet poll after poll has shown voters have been contacted equally if not more by the Romney campaign and the Republicans. It goes to show you what big government bureaucracy gets you.
I’m glad Democrats are so eager to talk about their ground game. The more they talk, the more they prove the numbers don’t add up.
It’s (ground) game over.
That's from Nov 5, 2012.

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