In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Republican strategist and campaign funder Karl Rove wrote that the Republicans are all but assured of taking over the Senate following November’s midterm elections. Thursday’s piece, which is mostly just an assurance for Rove’s SuperPAC donors, claims that the American public is just ten weeks away from kicking Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) out as Majority Leader. However, when you look at Rove’s reasoning and methodology, you see nothing more than wishful thinking and willful blindness, all done to convince conservatives that were burnt by Rove’s promises in 2012 that this time they really will win.
Rove addresses the fact that Republicans need to defeat at least three Democratic incumbent, something the GOP hasn’t done since 1980. Rove unimaginatively believes that President Obama’s somewhat middling approval ratings will be the death knell for Democrats in red or purple states, and voters will make a huge statement by voting for Republicans who represent change.
To regain Senate control, Republicans must defeat at least three incumbents, something they haven’t done since 1980 when they defeated 12. The most incumbents Republicans have knocked off since then are two each in 1994 and 2010.
Voters will replace Democratic incumbents when they are convinced they are too closely allied with Mr. Obama, and when the Republican alternative represents constructive change. Republicans should resist the temptation to focus exclusively on the former while neglecting the latter.
Rove also thinks that Obamacare will significantly hurt Democrats in the midterms due to insurance premium increases that will hit during the fall enrollment period.
Events will also put Mr. Obama front and center. Congress must soon approve a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. Republicans favor longer-term funding while Democrats want a shorter duration. On health care, while the administration has avoided another punishing round of policy cancellations by delaying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, it can’t stop ObamaCare premium increases that will hit in the next two months.
I think Rove is hoping for something that isn’t going to happen. Yes, it is predicted that insurance premiums will be slightly higher this year than last. That was always going to be the case. However, there isn’t going to be sticker shock. The Health Research Institute found a modest national increase of 7.5% earlier this month. That was done across 27 states and the District of Columbia. It is possible that the average national increase will be even lower after state insurance regulators take a look at insurance companies with the highest raises in premiums. Overall, it looks like the Republican predictions of spiraling health costs aren’t going to happen.
Rove finishes off his article by pinpointing six states where races will be determined by a couple of percentage points. He believes that Republicans will win at least three and as many as five of these races. Rove also feels that Democratic challenges to Republican-controlled seats in the states of Kentucky and Georgia will fall short.
Many races—like those in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina—will be settled by a couple of percentage points or even a few thousand votes. The election will come down to whether people want allies of Mr. Obama and Sen. Harry Reid returned to Washington—or whether Republicans can convince voters that they will govern, that they are more in touch with the middle class about changing Washington. and that they will better represent their state’s values.
Republicans seem to have three Democratic seats likely flipped—Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia—and while it won’t be pretty or overwhelming, three to five more seats look like they will fall the GOP’s way. If Republicans hold on to Kentucky and Georgia, as appears increasingly likely, that will be enough to kick out Harry Reid, install Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader, and rein in Mr. Obama during his last two years in office.
This seems too optimistic and is more wishful thinking than actual analysis. Sure, it is possible that the GOP will knock off most of the Democratic incumbents in competitive races while holding onto their own closely challenged seats, but that seems very unlikely. First off, if Rove hasn’t been paying attention, while Obama might not be overly popular among voters, he is far ahead of the GOP. And, quite frankly, so is the Democratic Party. It is almost insane to say, with all confidence, that an extremely unpopular political party will sweep through an election because Obama. Especially when that party is threatening another government shutdown, has been actively offensive towards Hispanics and blacks, and has gone out of its way to insult women, especially single women.
Then again, Rove isn’t one to deal with facts anymore. The one-time Bush’s Brain lost any and all credibility during the 2012 election when he spent hundreds of millions of donor money backing losing candidates. His Election Night flip-out will forever live in infamy. His prognostications should no longer be taken seriously. He is essentially Dick Morris now.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).