Voters across the country are doing something this midterm election many in the media hadn’t predicted — and which pollsters are now confirming — they’re actually paying attention. The headline stories you’ve seen for six months running were wrong. Across the country, it’s going to be an actual race. Voters have yet to decide who they believe can break the historic gridlock in Washington, D.C. — and that has Republicans running scarred.
The tight races have loosened pursestrings of Republican big money donors, too; they raised a record $15.5 million last month alone. The bad news for the GOP, is they’re having to spend that money on races which they — and nearly all the pundits who get paid to talk about politics — considered safe for months. They seem to be learning -the hard way- that the American people are simply fed up, and “traditional wisdom” about midterm elections goes out the window when they get “mad as hell.”
Take incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for example, long considered a shoe-in to retain his seat, but now scrambling to find votes on the small town cafe circuit, propped up by Bob Dole who, at 91 and run down, may be making his last whistle-stop campaign. “That’s the one state where we had hoped to avoid spending any money,” said Rob Portman (R-OH), vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but spend it they must if Roberts is going to hold off Independent Greg Orman.
Roberts and Dole are currently doing Abbot and Costello’s hilarious “Who’s on First?” stand-up routine for the confused diner crowd. As Dole reminisces about political bipartisanship of days gone by, Roberts sputters TEA Party rhetoric about how Majority Leader Reid is acting like “a dictator” or how “national socialism” under President Obama will ruin America. Kansans just aren’t buying it.
And they’re not buying what Republicans are selling in another conservative stronghold — South Dakota. Former Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD, but now running as an Independent) is a name the voters know and trust. He’s a conservative of the old school (South Dakotans have sent him to Washington three times already), back when government used to be about finding a middle ground for the common good of all Americans — not the rigid ideology, bitter division and gridlock that has earned Congress approval ratings that have slunk as low as 9%. Pressler said “I think this race can be won with 35 or 38 percent of the vote,” which may be why Democrats have recently dumped more money into the state, forcing the national Republican party to look to their checkbooks once again in the waining days of this race.
Republicans had long banked on Democratic voter apathy in 2014. Historically, midterm elections (especially during a lame duck administration), favor the opposition, which would be the Republican party this year. Not so fast. Everyday Americans are simply sick to death of what’s been going on in the nation’s capital — and despite months of dire predictions of Democratic losses — it seems the pollsters and politicians can toss conventional wisdom out the window.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes holds the lead over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), according to the latest Bluegrass poll, and therein lies the rub for Republicans. Political wonks and most of media had long assumed that for the Republicans to win control in the Senate — all they had to do was hold onto the seats they currently held. But a dissatisfied contingency has put all bets on hold.
To win the Senate, the GOP will need to sweep Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and Louisiana into their column. Take heart Democrats; ignore the negative ads, push-polling, and media’s relentless gloom and doom predictions: there’s only a 14 percent chance of that actually happening. What still seems like a safe bet for those following “conventional” wisdom: the women’s vote will decide close races — both in 2014, and 2016.