History suggests the 2014 midterm elections will be a losing endeavor for President Obama’s Democratic Party.
Traditionally, the congressional cohorts of second-term presidents do not fair well in the midterms. Even iconic figures like Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower suffered bruising midterm losses in their second terms. In fact, only five times in American history has the president’s party avoided losing seats in Congress during non-presidential election seasons.
Conditions may be ripe for Democrats to be able to buck that trend in the 2014. The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly broke the 15,000 barrier for first time ever Friday, before slipping back down below that mark. The employment numbers came in better than expected for April with the economy adding 165,000 jobs and unemployment dropping to 7.5%. Most glaringly though, a wildly unpopular Republican opposition exists as the party searches for an identity and some new ideas.
“[The Republican] strategy is, ‘Let’s not give the president any credit.’ So one of the issues that’s going to be litigated in this cycle is, are you a part of the solution? Are you helping improve the economy or are you trying to just score political points?” Democratic strategist Michael Feldman told Chris Matthews on Friday’s Hardball. ”The sequester is a great example of this. It’s an unnecessary drag on the economy right now. We should be working on a balanced plan to solve the deficit problem.”
Amy Walter of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, had a more measured view of the Democrats’ chances to pick up some seats in 2014.
“Here’s the good news for Democrats, the silver lining. They lost so many seats in 2010, there are no more to lose,” Walter said. “The question is, can they expand it? A good economy is better than a terrible economy.”
There is still 18 months until November of 2014 rolls around, plenty of time for geo-political and domestic events to alter the Democrats’ positive mojo. In order to stave off Democratic gains though, Republicans may have to come up with a different strategy than simply trying to thwart President Obama, who does not have to run for re-election.
“This has been the problem for Republicans is that they’re very good at saying ‘We don’t want to do whatever President Obama does.’ They don’t have a message for, what are we going to do?” said Walter.