It now appears as if the Democratic Party has siezed defeat from the jaws of likely victory in the 2014 mid term election. A new CNN poll finds Republicans now have the edge:
Democrats have lost their advantage and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress, according to a new national poll.
The problem? President Barack Obama is dragging the party down so it has two images now: 1)a party that can’t implement a reform it fought dearly to secure, and, 2)a party that argues that government can help people in their lives and is efficient but is looking as if it has a hard time governing efficiently.
Call it the Democrats’ own branding problem right now. Obama was re-elected with high numbers indicating many Americans liked him personally and trusted him. But the utter fiasco of the Obamacare website launch coupled with the fact that Obama’s often stated promise that if Americans liked their health plan and doctor they could keep them turned out to be not true has decimated Obama’s polling numbers. Obama had pushed his party to embrace health care reform as something Americans would embrace once it was put into place. But the Obama administration has not been able to get it in place in a way that matches the advance hype. Even as you read this, with stories about large number of people registering, the numbers still fall far short of the advance hype.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates, and that the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be a low-turnout event, with only three in 10 registered voters extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year.
A low turnout means the GOP and talk show hosts will get angry voters to the polls. And, if past history is any indication, as Democrats see some of their hopes were not realized in government execution and that polls are low, many Democrats will stay home — making it more likely that by default GOPers could have big night and the long term Democratic agenda will be even harder to realize.
Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.
But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.
The 13-point swing over the past two months follows a political uproar over Obamacare, which included the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and controversy over the possiblity of insurance policy cancelations due primarily to the new health law.
“Virtually all the movement toward the GOP has come among men,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “Fifty-four percent of female voters chose the Democratic candidate in October; 53% pick the Dem now. But among male voters, support for Democratic candidates has gone from 46% in October to just 35% now.”
The question then becomes: what, if anything, can Obama and the Democrats do to halt the political erosion and start to turn these numbers around? Republicans will at these numbers and figure all they to do is keep on keeping on…
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.