Here’s the Democrats central problem in 2016:
Seniors, who frequently voted Democratic over pocketbook issues like Social Security and Medicare, have migrated into the Republican column. White blue-collar voters, once a staple of Democratic coalitions past, have become estranged from their old political home over cultural issues. In their place are what my colleague Ron Brownstein labels “the coalition of the ascendant”—single women, minorities, and millennial voters. Voters within these groups turned out at high levels in the last two presidential elections to offset Democratic losses elsewhere.
The challenge for Democrats in this year’s midterms is getting these “ascendant” voters enthusiastic about showing up to the polls when Obama isn’t on the ballot—something that Democratic turnout specialists are working overtime to achieve. Even if they don’t show up and Republicans retake the Senate in 2014, the assumption is they’re bound to return at similar levels for the next presidential election. That’s not necessarily the case.
Continue reading What if the 2014 electorate *doesn’t* reset in time for 2016?
While I agree with Glenn Reynolds’ basic observation…
…about this Washington Post article calling for four-year terms for the House of Representatives, I also would like to propose an amusing game for dealing with advocates of such a change. Ask them, sweetly, if they were prepared to accept a compromise where House elections were four-year terms… and they were all during what we now call the midterms. Then watch them squirm*. Continue reading On ‘reforming’ the House of Representatives by making the terms four years long.
Strictly speaking, I am not criticizing the Fix for not drawing a more explicit link between Presidential approval ratings and Senate churn in a midterm election. They established the basic point, which was that both parties are increasingly taking seriously that the President’s current low numbers will translate into Democratic losses in the Senate. The Monkey Cage spells it out:
Presidential approval is strongly correlated with midterm congressional election outcomes. Gallup has polled Americans on presidential approval during every midterm election cycle since 1954. Across the 16 midterm election cycles from 1954 through 2012 the average level of presidential approval during the first quarter (January to March) of the election year is about 58 percent. Over the available Gallup presidential approval polls for the first quarter of this year, Obama’s approval is significantly below the average, about 42 percent, worse than every other year except 2006 and 1974.
Continue reading An annotated chart about why Presidential approval ratings matter.