Friday, July 04, 2014

Politics 2014

Happy Independence Day!

It is now 122 days until this year's national midterm elections and soon I will be attempting to offer commentary and predictions for every single race for Governor and U.S. Senate across the country.

I also offer predictions on every U.S. House District and I have some business to tend to. Almost four months ago, for the first time ever on here, I incorrectly predicted a Democrat would win a special election to Congress. Needless to say, I was quite pleased that David Jolly, now a Congressman, defeated his Democrat opponent in a central Florida district. This was a highly targeted race for both parties, to fill the seat of a long-time GOP Congressman who had passed away, in a district that had narrowly favored Barack Obama in 2012. There are a lot of reasons why the Democrats should have won that race, but they fell short, and I think that has significant meaning for the rest of this year, and for GOP efforts to win marginal House districts across the country.

Since that result back in March, the Democrat who narrowly lost to Jolly announced she would not make another attempt, and a deadline passed without Democrats officially getting a candidate on the ballot for the September primary. The party agreed to support an Independent candidate, who many thought could be credible, but that candidate would go on to drop out of race due to a resume padding scandal. Now, Jolly, who was at least a modest Republican upset victor in a district carried by a Democrat President is now facing his first reelection contest basically unopposed.

With Obama continuing to be unpopular, things are looking promising for Republicans in the overall House landscape, as well as many key Senate contests, as the party will try to capture a majority. Many states have selected nominees with many more still to come the remainder of this summer and into the fall.

Whom Republicans nominate for competitive races will go a long way in determining their success in what should be a promising political year for them. There has been a large amount of drama already though as Establishment Republican types battle with Tea Party insurgents who feel that no Republican elected official is doing a good job and that they all deserve to be replaced. Those people seem to put more emphasis on ideological purity than electoral success, and obviously, I find that troubling.

For the first few months of primary season, Republican establishment figures tended to easily survive primary challenges, as evident by the big wins of Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Several weeks ago though, a result happened in Virginia that was quite disheartening to me and sent shockwaves through American politics. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was upset in a primary by a Tea Party backed opponent, in a race that was not really on anybody's radar. While that district is probably safe for the GOP, it sent a pretty bad message and harkened back to how some of the 2010 primary results led to nominees who lost winnable races in the fall.

After Virginia, many thought the writing was on the wall for Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran in a runoff election against a Tea Party opponent. However, another surprise result occurred as Cochran held on to win, after utilizing a somewhat unique campaign strategy. I can get into all the details of that later on this year, when I discuss the Mississippi Senate race, but I was very happy with the results. The defeated opponent of Cochran and his allies have perhaps taken "sore loserdom" to a new level, but I will continue to hope for the victory of establishment Republicans (both conservative and moderate) as the best bet to win elections against Democrats and to provide successful governance of this great country. If the strident voices in the Tea Party need to be taught some lessons about politics and democracy in the process, then so be it.