In the remaining few months leading up to the midterm elections in November, we will see many mentions of gloom and doom by “panic-mode Democrats.” But these comments will mostly be coming from Conservatives, hyping the trends that have shaped politics in recent years, which admittedly do favor a Republican resurgence in 2014. Will the anticipated trends hold true this cycle? Are Democrats in trouble? Are they panicking?
Prognosticators are doing their usual jobs, but in truth it is far too early to predict the results in November. And as much as political instigators love to use words like fear, and desperate, and panic to describe the sentiments and actions of political foes, they are meaningful at this stage only as motivating rhetoric.
Here are the dynamics currently in play:
- Off-year, non-presidential elections typically see an advantage going to the party out of power. Advantage: GOP.
- Democrats as a voting bloc typically display a greater degree of voter apathy in non-presidential elections. Advantage: GOP.
- Sitting administrations usually do poorly in their sixth year. Advantage: GOP.
- The president’s ratings are down. Advantage: GOP.
- The do-nothing Congress’ ratings are even further down. No discernable advantage.
In a country where we now watch tailor-made news that conforms more to our predetermined ideologies than to accurate reporting, we are thoroughly divided along Liberal/Conservative lines, with little or no actual debate on real issues getting through the respective filters. Facing such a stark division, it is increasingly difficult to sway anyone’s opinions in a direction opposed to their preconceptions. In such a toxic atmosphere of abject disagreement as a starting point, few meaningful discussions will emerge.
Into this toxic atmosphere come the mid-term elections, where Republicans are seen as having an advantage they have not recently enjoyed in presidential election years. But voters are anything but apathetic in their disapproval of Congress.
The question is, will the current discontent and disconnect between voters and their barely functional representatives be large enough this time to motivate voters to come to the polls, or will voter apathy rule, spelling a GOP increase in both houses?
The talking heads and prognosticators
Conservative news sources have alternated between playing up the likelihood of a repeat of Liberal apathy at the polls, and pushing threatening rhetoric on the dangers of Liberal influences, all in an attempt to ensure the Conservative voter participation in this midterm election cycle. The Democrats have, of course, done the exact opposite, but the increasingly important question that remains is what results are we actually going to see this time around rather than who is predicting what?
The current toxic atmosphere of non-compromise, non-communication, and non-functional government could swing the balance in either direction. It could spell out increased voter apathy. But it could also mean a retributive reaction not seen in modern times. Admittedly, there isn’t much precedent for that, but there has never been a Congress as non-functional and so thoroughly disapproved of, either.
The key, as always, is going to be getting out the vote. A motivated Liberal wave of voters could actually swing the House away from Conservative control, and there just happens to be an enormous new voting bloc that is antagonistic to many things today’s faux Conservatives appear to represent. The youth vote, if motivated to take action, could easily bring the actual doom and gloom to an unsuspecting Party of overconfident under-achievers.
The predicted Democratic panic and congressional losses in a non-presidential election cycle are over-hyped and ill-advised under the circumstances of non-functional government, one that seems to live primarily for the denial of services, defeat of legislation, and obstruction of the governmental process to the detriment of the nation.