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Posted on Oct 8, 2014 in Congress, Elections-U.S., Obamacare | 0 comments

The Senate elections; The odds favor the Republicans, but end of campaign momentum will decide the election.

The numbers appear stacked against the Democratic Party as it strives to maintain control of the Senate in next month’s elections. Thirty-six U.S. Senate seats are on the ballot this November. Twenty-one of them currently are held by Democrats and sixteen are held by Republicans. Democrats have twenty seats considered up for grabs, while Republicans have thirteen that may be vulnerable.

It will take a net gain of six seats for the Republicans to seize control. Real Clear Politics has the Republicans likely to win a net gain of seven seats. Pollster Rasmussen now lists nine safe seats held by Democrats and fifteen by Republicans. Late campaign momentum usually is both volatile and crucial to off year Congressional elections. While there is still time for the usual last minute shifts in voting preferences by the voters, and the last weeks momentum is crucial, the mathematics for the Democrats show that it will be an uphill fight to keep the Republicans from winning control of the Senate and therefore hold both houses of Congress.

Turnout for non-Presidential year congressional elections are notoriously low. Voters in off-year congressional elections tend to be older, more educated, and Caucasian. These are categories that favor the Republicans.

Democratic ambitions have slipped recently in their defense of the Montana seat held by Senator Max Baucus until his appointment earlier this year as Ambassador to China. They also had hopes of gaining Kentucky’s Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s seat. McConnell wasn’t conservative enough for Tea Party types in his home state and was thought to be vulnerable in his party’s primary election.

Montana’s Democratic party has been a mess. Lt. Governor John Walsh was appointed to fill out the remaining months of Senator Baucus’ term, and thus be able to run for re-election as an incumbent. However, a plagiarism scandal sunk Walsh’s ambitions. Most of the Democrats’ hopes in Montana were then based upon the expected campaign of the controversial, but locally popular, former Governor Brian Schweitzer. But Schweitzer shocked observers by deigning to run. In the wake of Schweitzer’s refusal to run. Democrats then settled on a first-term state legislator, Amanda Curtis, who most observers believe is now running behind in the race.

In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell survived the Tea Party challenge in the Republican Primary and leads his much less experienced opponent: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes. Grimes is only 34 years old. National Republican donors are sparing no expense in trying to assure that McConnell holds his seat. His war chest has amassed ten million dollars to support his campaign.

Off-year elections generally are decided by local issues. But an unusually popular or unpopular President can have some effect. Gallup has found more voters saying that they want their vote to “send a message” to oppose President Obama (thirty-two percent) than to support the President (twenty percent).

What is the message the Democrats are sending to save Senate control? It’s difficult to find a unified message. Obama can point to the economy surviving and even recovering the “Republican recession.” But most Democrats and Independents feel that the recovery hasn’t benefited them. Republicans are hammering home on aspects of Obama-care. Rasmussen has found that forty-eight percent of likely voters oppose the requirement that every one has to buy or obtain health insurance; Forty percent now support the individual mandate and eleven percent are undecided. These numbers have been variable ever since the Affordable Health Act became law, shortly after which time support was up to fifty-four percent. That variability and sizable undecided numbers demonstrate that American voters could be swayed on this important issue. Yet the President basically has shied away from the issue and individual Senate candidates have run from it. Several times this past year, I have urged that Democrats embrace Obama-care with one voice. Failure to do so would cost them in the coming Congressional elections. It gives me no satisfaction to say, “I told you so.” Is it too late to start down this road? The answer is that it IS late, but the bulk of the advertising and personal television interviews will happen over the next several weeks right up to the November election date. States such as Iowa and Colorado are in virtual dead heats. To be sure, the election, in a significant way, will be decided by the Democrats’ ability to get their voting blocs to change off-year voting history and turn out at the polls. In short, turn many “unlikely voters” into voters. Making sure that they understand how a Republican Senate will hurt their benefits is one way to encourage them to vote November Fourth.

 

 

 

 

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