Conservative pundit says Republicans could lose control of the U.S. House in 2014 elections
Columnist and Fox News contributor Byron York issues a WARNING to the GOP:
Republicans haven’t worried about losing the House because, first, having won by a landslide in 2010, they got to control the redistricting process, and they have used that power to draw districts that give them an advantage. Second, Barack Obama, having won re-election, is not particularly popular, and his ratings could slip further by November 2014. And third, history teaches that the presidential party just doesn’t gain seats in the mid-terms of a president’s second term. So, the thinking goes, Obama’s Democrats can’t win. The House will stay Republican.
Unless it doesn’t. Behind the scenes — in whispered asides, not for public consumption — some Republicans are now worried that keeping the House is not such a done deal after all. They look back to two elections, 1998 and 2006, in which Republicans seriously underperformed expectations, and they wonder if 2014 might be a little like those two unhappy years.
“The majority is at risk,” says one well-connected Republican strategist. “It should be a good year, but you need to run like you’re trying to win, and you need a good, solid strategy.”
In 1998, Republicans, with a narrow majority in the House, expected to pick up at least 20 seats. It was a weird year, with the Lewinsky scandal consuming Bill Clinton’s presidency. But Clinton wasn’t on the ballot — a fact that didn’t stop House Republicans from campaigning against him. “We were going to make the race all about Bill Clinton,” the strategist recalls.
It didn’t work. Instead of picking up 20 seats, the GOP lost five. (So much for the president’s party never picking up seats in the second term.) Republicans kept control of the House, but by a margin so small it made governing difficult.
GOP strategists look at the president’s job approval rating on the economy and see an opportunity. A recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, found that 54 percent of those surveyed do not approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. Yet when the pollsters asked who respondents trusted to do a better job with economic issues — Obama or Republicans in Congress — respondents chose Obama, 45 percent to 39 percent.
Lots of other polls have shown similar results. Voters don’t approve of the way Obama is handling the economy. Yet they prefer him over Republicans.
What that should tell the GOP is that Republican candidates don’t need to tell voters what a bad job the president is doing. They already know that, and besides, Obama won’t be on the ballot in 2014. What GOP candidates need to do is convince voters that they would do a better job than Democrats.
If they don’t — if Republicans stick to being an opposition party on the attack rather than the alternative party offering an agenda — then Obama’s much-discussed dream of retaking the House in 2014 might come true, despite all the odds. And that would be a nightmare for Republicans.