The mid-term elections expectation game is in full gear and it is widely anticipated that the Republicans will make substantial gains on Tuesday, November 2nd.
I don’t mean to be a speed bump at the Indy 500, but here are 10 ways the GOP might have less to celebrate on the morning of November 3rd. Especially if they….
1. Underestimate President Obama
His appearance on The View was the beginning of what will be a full-scale charm offensive. Voters like him personally but don’t like his policies, so expect him to take advantage of his “Mr. Congeniality” on-camera presence. His hope is that voters will remember “The One” that won them over in 2008. First Lady Michelle will also be out in force on the campaign trail, and she is very popular among African-American women whose votes could tip the scale in a tight race.
2. Underestimate the Unions
What does $100 million sound like? A lot of TV ads and a full tank of gas in many campaign engines. AFSCME (The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) plans to spend $50 million to fund “a massive incumbent protection program.” SEIU (The Service Employees International Union) has $44 million on tap to “protect members who voted for the health care reform bill” (Gives new meaning to that old cliché “protection money”). The AFL-CIO declines to provide a dollar amount for their campaign spending but “plans to spend big,” according to a spokesperson. So count on total union spending to be more than $100 million, a new record for a mid-term election. That’s a huge chunk of union dues, but obviously the union leadership thinks the stakes are high enough to warrant spending at such historic levels.
3. Underestimate the Power of Democratic Money
According to the Washington Post the Democrats have a money advantage.
“..the Democrats’ money edge in more than two- thirds of its most competitive (House) seats should allow the targeted incumbents to define themselves….traditionally a recipe for campaign success”
The article goes on to debate the advantage of money when the mood is sour against incumbents, but the money advantage should not be downplayed in any race at any level. Besides the funds from the Democratic Party itself, there are outside groups that will pour millions into the midterms in addition to the Unions mentioned above. Hello $ George Soros $ and others of his ilk.
If you click on www.opensecrets.org they are keeping a running daily tally of all midterm expenditures for all candidates, parties and issue groups. At this writing it was up to $2.7 billion.
4. Underestimate the Democratic Ground Game
Boots on the ground — get out the vote — whether its Union feet, Acorn feet, or just tired feet, the Democrats led by “The Community Organizer in Chief” are very efficient at getting out the vote.
The Democratic National Committee stated they had 250 field organizing offices in all 50 states and that was back in April 2010. All the money they have raised can buy an army of field troops ready to drive people to the polls, make calls on election day, and who knows what other new or old “creative ways” are being contemplated to ensure votes get cast.
5. Underestimate the Democratic Internet Advantage
The most obvious advantage the Democrats and Obama had in 2008 was their overwhelming command and control of the power of the Internet for fundraising and organization. Unfortunately for the GOP, none of this 2008 Internet dominance has dissipated.
(OFA) Organizing for America (or more affectionately known as Organizing for Obama) is as strong and persistent as ever, sending sometimes daily emails to its list of 13 million at last count. OFA does not let up, when they want action they usually motivate their members to contact a member of Congress to vote a certain way, or to get to the polls themselves with a friend or two, or take the entire neighborhood.
Just last week OFA sent out two emails, one from Michelle asking recipients to sign her husband’s 49th birthday card and send $5.00 while doing so, and then another inviting OFA members to a local birthday party for Obama on August 4th specifically located in the precinct of the OFA member. The Republican Internet game surely has improved from 2008 but nowhere near the levels of the Democrats and OFA.
6. Underestimate the Positive Effect of Throwing $ at Districts and States
Here’s one example of how federal funds are getting thrown at a Senate Democrat in trouble — in this case it’s Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln vs. Congressman John Boozman. The Real Clear Politics average from mid-July shows Boozman up by 25 points. Not to be cynical, but there are 5 count ‘em 5 grants from July 30 to August 2 that Senator Lincoln can now boast about to the folks back home.
Here are your tax dollars at work in order of the press releases from her office:
8/02/10: $235K to boost Arkansas manufacturing from the Department of Commerce
7/30/10: $742K from Health and Human Services (HHS) for new cancer equipment
7/30/10: $110K for airport construction from the Federal Aviation Administration
7/30/10: $408K from HHS for continuing education for those who help the elderly
7/30/10: $34 million in FEMA disaster relief for 3,000 projects throughout Arkansas
Not sure if any of this money will help Blanche keep her seat, but the Obama administration can not be faulted for trying. Surely this same phenomenon is happening wherever there is an endangered Democrat. So for fun try this at home, pick an endangered Democratic member of the House or Senate and look at their latest press releases to discover what their political endangerment is costing YOU.
7. Underestimate the Popularity of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton has a 61% favorable approval rating compared to 52% for President Obama according to this Gallup poll conducted July 8 – 11. However, Obama’s Real Clear Politics average today is 45.3% approval and 49.5% disapproval. So this fall get ready to see “The Father of the Bride” out doing what he does best. In fact, out on the trail you may see less of President 44 and more of President 42. Perhaps Clinton’s very popular wife will join him when extra special star power is needed.
8. Underestimate Bush Bashing
Believe it or not, President George W Bush is actually increasing in popularity and currently stands at 45% approval according to this same Gallup poll that has Clinton at 61%. But this fall you can still expect to hear more of “the mess we inherited” and “the failed policies of the Bush years,” until at least 2016, or if we are lucky, maybe it will stop after 2012.
Even though Bush 43 is not on the ballot and has not been since November of 2004, the Democrats still think of him as the gift that keeps on giving. However, the GOP would ignore Bush bash campaigning at its own peril because it can still rally the Democratic base. W’s book is also coming out this fall, so you’ll be seeing even more evidence of delayed Bush Derangement Syndrome. To counter that, Republicans need to hammer home the message that the Democrats have controlled the House and Senate since 2006. Do not assume the average voter knows that.
9. Drown in Overconfidence
Even though there is much momentum and many positive signs for the GOP, according to political strategist Mark McKinnon, candidates must not get fooled into thinking the Republican brand is loved. It is surely not; in fact only 33% of voters approve of the Republican leaders in Congress. Not exactly grounds for a takeover. The truth is the Democrats over-reached; trying to take a center right country and govern like it was a radical left nation. That is evident when 72.2% of voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing and 61.5% say the country is on the wrong track. Voters are not thrilled about the Republicans who they don’t really like, potentially coming back into power, but even less thrilled about keeping the Democrats totally in control of Congress.
10. Underestimate “Chicago Politics”
The current administration will use every weapon at its disposal to keep comfortable majorities in Congress. Nancy’s gavel is her favorite fashion accessory and she will not surrender it easily.
The stakes are so high, the Obama agenda is on the line and the future of “Hope and Change” is threatened. So come this fall expect the unexpected, and don’t be surprised if an “October surprise” hits in September. These guys (and gals) do not like to lose.
Myra Adams is a media producer, writer and political observer. Her media clients have included national associations, political interest groups and corporations. She served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign. Myra’s web site TheJesusStore.com contributes all profits to Christian charity.