Swing State Pres

Monday, April 7, 2014

March Month in Review: Democrats Make Progress on "Checklist" To Maintain Senate Control (April 7, 2014)

This was a month in which the Democrats can point to some progress, some tangible signs that the November congressional elections may not be the disaster that some are foreseeing.  Here is a “checklist” that the Democrats would love to complete by Election Day…and if they did, would certainly result in maintaining control of the Senate.

       Meet goal of 7 million sign-ups for Obamacare
       Unemployment rate drops below 6%
       Obama approval rating at 50% or above

Mind you, the Democrats can still win even if none of these boxes are checked.  As I have noted (http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2014/03/senate-2014-state-by-state-update-race.html), the Senate race could not be tighter, but the Democrats, as of now, are ahead by the slimmest of margins (I have it at 51-49).  But checking each box would more or less amount to a guarantee for maintaining Senate control (and possibility the longer shot of putting the House in play).

You can now check off the first box.  The big news of the month was, of course, the announced 7.1 million sign-ups for Obamacare, a number that, against all expectations, exceeded the original target set by the Administration.  While it remains to be seen whether premiums rise in 2015 for various reasons (the economics depend on a sizable number of younger enrolees, and the final percentage has not been announced), reaching the 7 million mark was a shot in the arm for the beleaguered plan, and will put a modest headwind against relentless Republican attacks.

The unemployment rate held at 6.7% this month, but it is not out of the question that if the GDP growth holds in the 3% range through the next two quarters that unemployment could fall quite a bit further.  Public sector job loss has abated, and now it is up to the private sector.

As for the approval rating, Obama is in the 44% range now.  We’ll see how that moves over the next month with the unexpected burst of good news on the health care front.

In addition to these positive factors for the Democrats, the Republicans found two ways to shoot themselves in the foot.  First and foremost, Paul Ryan issued his politically poisonous Budget.  The plan slashes federal spending by $5 trillion, by cutting half a billion from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, veterans benefits; $2 million in Obamacare costs (though not cutting the revenue raising elements of Obamacare that paid for it); and more from food stamps, Pell grants and the like.  All this while assuming phenomenal growth in tax receipts due to the presumed ensuing economic growth as well as a massive increase in defense spending and no new taxes on the wealthy.  It is a fantasy in every way, and yet it does indeed represent the Republican governing blueprint. 

Republican incumbents and new challengers alike will have to defend this plan, and Dick Durbin, Democratic Senator of Illinois, summed up best the boost this gives to Democratic campaign hopes:  “Thank, you, thank you, Paul Ryan, for reminding us what Republicans would do if they had control.”

The other Republican “miss” is in not offering a counterplan to Obamacare.  It was interesting to see FOX News excoriating Republican Senator Lindsay Graham for this failure, as he squirmed through a weak response (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fox-grills-graham-obamacare-alternative.)  Republican candidates will push the Obamacare critique as far as possible all through the campaign, but absent a clear alternative on the table, they will fall into the “do nothing" trap.  And with anywhere from 10-15 million clearly benefiting from Obamacare’s many positives, the willingness to abandon it will certainly lessen, and the pressure for Republicans to find a viable alternative will mount.

OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

President Obama’s net approval rating stayed in the 44% range, with a net negative creeping up to -8%.  Next month will be more revealing in light of the Obamacare good news.  There are not too many catalysts on the horizon before Election Day; we’ll see if that 7.1 million figures moves the needle at all.

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
8-Dec
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
  Approve
49.6
39.9
43.8
44.6
44.2
  Disapprove
47.4
51.8
51.4
51.7
51.9
  Net
2.2
-11.9
-7.6
-7.0
-7.7

OBAMACARE RATINGS

Obamacare ratings marginally improved, as the “oppose/against” figure dropped from 55% to 52%, though with no corresponding improvement in the “for/favor” camp.  The -12% net is the best rating since the disastrous website launch.

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
8-Dec
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
  For/Favor
40.0
38.4
39.0
40.0
39.8
  Oppose/Against
50.8
56.6
52.1
55.2
52.0
  Net
-10.8
-18.2
-13.1
-15.2
-12.2

ECONOMETER

The Obameter inched up to 51.7, driven by a healthy rise in consumer confidence.  The stock market also rose, although so did the price of gas.  The key barometer for Obama and the Democrats (in the equation above) remains the unemployment rate, and three months of stickiness at the 6.6/6.7% level is not the answer.

Econometer
Election Day 2012
8-Dec
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
Econometer
0.0
37.2
50.6
48.1
51.7






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
7.0
6.6
6.7
6.7
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
70.4
80.7
78.6
82.3
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.34
3.38
3.48
3.62
  Dow Jones
 13,330
 15,952
 15,993
 16,208
 16,339
  GDP
3.1
4.1
3.2
2.6
2.6

CONGRESSIONAL GENERIC BALLOT

The Democrats have retained their margin in the generic ballot, up by 1.6 points.

Generic Congressional Ballot
Election Day 2012
8-Dec
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
  Democrat
46.3
40.7
39.9
41.0
41.0
  Republican
46.0
41.9
40.7
39.2
39.4
  Net
0.3
-1.1
-0.8
1.8
1.6




1 comment:

  1. Generic Ballot shows that 39.4% of americans are either millionaires or idiots. or both.

    ReplyDelete

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