There are nine weeks until election day and the American people are tuning in to one of the most consequential midterm elections in all my years in Washington.
Much is at stake. Astonishingly, last week the president admitted that he has no strategy for defending our nation from ISIS, the most significant national security threat since Osama Bin Laden. Thus, not surprisingly, polls show that average voters are reaching their upper limit on what they will tolerate from President Obama. Momentum appears to favor Republicans, who hope change can end this long, frustrating vacuum of leadership.
As the American people look for an alternative to the depressing lack of leadership from this administration, voters can look to their state leaders to get a good idea of the kind of leadership that’s possible. In stark contrast to President Obama, Republican governors have been driving home a well disciplined pro-growth message and executing policies that tackle our biggest problems.
There are 36 states holding gubernatorial elections this year, 29 of which are controlled by Republicans, and prospects look good for them to fight off Democratic challenges across the board. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker is positioned to pull ahead of Democrat Mary Burke, and in neighboring Michigan Rick Snyder should be able to hold on to a comfortable lead against former Representative Mark Shauer. Illinois, Arkansas, and Connecticut are three potential pickup opportunities for Republicans Bruce Rauner, Asa Hutchinson, and Tom Foley, respectively.
With Governor Chris Christie at the helm of the Republican Governors Association, where I serve as finance chairman, money has been pouring in at historic levels, offsetting huge expenditures from unions on the other side. This cash advantage over Democrats is making up for the fact that Republicans are defending twice as many seats. And considering the current political climate, there is little chance that Democrats will make gains elsewhere.
The ability of these capable governors to connect on a more personal level with voters will also play a big role leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Aside from the gubernatorial races, the big prize this election cycle is the Senate, and for good reason. Knocking Harry Reid from the upper chamber’s top spot is the best chance Republicans have to force President Obama’s hand on addressing big policy issues like our national debt, energy (think Keystone Pipeline), entitlements, and much needed tax reform.
Midterm elections serve as a referendum on the party in power and according to a new Gallup Poll, 39 percent of voters strongly disapprove of the president’s job performance, more than twice as many who strongly approve. Furthermore, the demographic makeup of the midterm electorate historically favors Republicans. This is not to say it will be easy an easy task, as the GOP needs to net a total of six seats in order to wrestle control from Democrats, nevertheless, a Republican takeover is looking increasingly realistic.
The good news is that Republicans have fielded a strong crop of electable candidates, and Democrats have already committed a number of unforced errors that have expanded the map for Republicans.
John Walsh, the Democrats’ placeholder to succeed longtime Senator Max Baucus was forced to drop out of the race over charges he plagiarized his Master’s thesis at the United States Army War College, all but assuring a victory for Republican Steve Daines. Joni Ernst is also resonating well with voters in Iowa – a seat that was supposed to favor Democrats – and has been able to paint trial lawyer Bruce Braley as out of touch. With Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia strongly leaning Republican, a victory in Iowa would mean they would only have to defeat two of the four incumbent Democrats in states that Mitt Romney carried in the 2012 presidential election.
With a GOP-controlled Senate, we may not have to wait until 2016 to start making real progress. House leaders like Fred Upton have put forth great ideas like his Cures Initiative that could revolutionize how new medicines change people’s lives. Without Harry Reid in the way, ideas like this could become a reality, and President Obama would no longer be able to ignore them.
With Obama’s failed policies running up against the clear vision being laid out by our Republican leaders across the country, the circumstances are right for a changing of the guard this fall. Victory is within reach for Republicans and real progress is right around the corner. The American people want it, and they certainly deserve it.