Swing State Pres

Monday, May 5, 2014

April Month in Review: Republican Key Campaign Themes Under Direct Assault (May 5, 2014)

The Republican Congressional campaigns this November are being run on two basic themes:  1) Obamacare is a disaster and emblematic of a Federal government that is out of control, both economically and in encroaching on the “rights” of private citizens, and 2) Obama’s economic policies are failing and we are stuck in a rut accordingly.  (The GOP knows that Benghazi and Ukraine are not terribly important to swing voters.)

Both tenets have had currency in the marketplace, and if the election had been timed for November, 2013 instead of November, 2014, it is highly likely the mid-terms would have been the rout many still expect.

But the last month has been sobering for the Republicans.  Obamacare soared past 8 million in enrollment, well exceeding the 7 million goal, and payment data, trickling out from private insurers, is validating premium payment rates in the 85-90% range.  And last month’s unemployment report showed a robust 288,000 new job figure and the unemployment rate dropping to 6.3%.  All of a sudden, the scenario I put forth last month looks ever more likely; you will recall my conceptual “formula” to guarantee that Democrats hold the Senate and not lose many, if any, House seats:

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

The first box has been checked, the second box is suddenly far more likely, though not a laydown (we’ve seen the economic promise of spring turn into summer stalls before).  Will the third follow?  Not as yet (as we’ll see below), but possibly in time.

On the Republican presidential side, the buzz around Jeb Bush has ramped up in the wake of the Chris Christie implosion.  The “will he or won’t he” dance is in full flower, as well as press pieces finding the skeletons in his closet (big-time consulting to Lehman Brothers, for goodness sake).  The sudden potential for yet another Bush-Clinton brawl is setting off the predictable frenzy.  (And for you generational dynasty fans, there is already talk of Chelsea versus George P. a decade or two from now.)

One thing for sure…this is not a great time to be a Tea Party devotee.  The Cliven Bundy spectacle was the latest debacle, as FOX News’s Glenn Beck gave Bundy the biggest embrace one can imagine in his standoff over land-use rights with the Federal Government, only to recoil in the face of his Donald Stirling-esque pronouncements on race (“Let me tell you about the Negro…”).  Not a good scene for those on the far right.

Meanwhile, for the Democrats, status quo reigns when it comes to 2016.  Hillary remains a 66/12 preference over Joe Biden.  Chelsea’s pregnancy set off an amazing round of speculation on what it means for Hillary’s candidacy.  And John Boehner keeps up the chatter on Benghazi. He may have to.  As Obamacare improves, the Econometer rises, and his own party rejects immigration reform (against his wishes), he may soon have no other arrows left in the quiver.

OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

The good news on healthcare and the economy has yet to translate into political gain for Obama, as his approval rating remains solidly in the 44-45% range and the net is sticking at about -7 points.  But I would bet a month from now we will see a modest uptick.  And that’s all the Dems may need for Obama to become the rising tide that carries the boats upward in tight Congressional races.

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
4-May
  Approve
49.6
43.8
44.6
44.2
44.5
  Disapprove
47.4
51.4
51.7
51.9
51.4
  Net
2.2
-7.6
-7.0
-7.7
-6.9

OBAMACARE RATINGS

As predicted, Obamacare ratings continue to improve.  Opposition to the law is abating, down to about 50% (from a high of 57%) and the net negative is now in single digits, having dropped from -18 points in early December in the wake of the website fiasco, to about -9 currently.  Nothing is scarier to Republicans than the thought that this net negative could close by Election Day.  Continued payment data, and, over the summer, the announcement of premium increases for next year, are the next important milestones.  But one interesting indicator…for the first time, a prominent Republican Congressperson (Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington) has started talking of “reforming” Obamacare rather than “repealing” it. 

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
4-May
  For/Favor
40.0
39.0
40.0
39.8
41.7
  Oppose/Against
50.8
52.1
55.2
52.0
50.2
  Net
-10.8
-13.1
-15.2
-12.2
-8.5

ECONOMETER

The Econometer held in the low 50’s, as the good news on unemployment was offset by rising gas prices and an anemic (and weather driven) 1st quarter GDP growth rate of 0.1%.  This underscores that the economic story is not completely rosy, nor is the unemployment figure the only data point.  Personal income has remained flat, and thus economic improvement has not really penetrated to Main Street, apart from possibly seeing a few neighbors get back to work.

Econometer
Election Day 2012
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
4-May
Econometer
0.0
50.6
48.1
53.3
52.5






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
6.6
6.7
6.7
6.3
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
80.7
78.6
83.9
82.3
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.38
3.48
3.62
3.74
  Dow Jones
 13,330
 15,993
 16,208
 16,339
 16,339
  GDP
3.1
3.2
2.6
2.6
0.1

CONGRESSIONAL GENERIC BALLOT

The Democrats continue to retain a slim lead in the generic ballot, under a point.  That is way too close for comfort.

Generic Ballot
Election Day 2012
11-Feb
10-Mar
6-Apr
4-May
  Democrat
46.3
39.9
41.0
41.0
43.0
  Republican
46.0
40.7
39.2
39.4
42.5
  Net
0.3
-0.8
1.8
1.6
0.5

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE

March/April polling gives evidence of the Christie demise.  The other candidates are all hanging within close range, none making a move.  Paul Ryan seems to be fading, as he plays his own Hamlet maneuver, raising skepticism that he will actually take the plunge.  The Republican leadership is surely unhappy to see Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul at the top of the polls.  Is it possible that only Jeb Bush is really “electable” among this group?  Yes, it is…the plight of the GOP in bold-faced type.  The only viable nominee shares the same last name as both our last one-term President (41) and one of the most reviled Presidents of all time (43).


2013
2013
2014
2014

Jan-Oct
Nov/Dec
1/1 - 2/11
Mar/Aprl
Paul
13
14
11
14
Huckabee
13
13
15
14
Bush
12
10
12
12
Christie
16
19
13
11
Ryan
14
11
12
10
Cruz
10
12
8
7
Rubio
14
9
8
6
Walker
3
5
5
5
Perry
    n/a
     n/a 
    n/a
5
Jindal
3
3
4
3


In case you missed it, our President did a fabulous job at the White House Correspondents Dinner, check it out:  https://movies.yahoo.com/news/president-obama-correspondents-dinner-digs-fox-news-cnn-031434519.html

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