As I write this, there is exactly one week left before the 2014 election. In the spirit of the season, it is time for predictions.
Yet rather than make any new predictions, I will simply repeat two predictions about this year’s elections, which I made last year (December 2013 to be exact).
Ten months ago I made two bold predictions. The first was that no incumbent GOP U.S. Senator would lose his primary. Not one. Not Lindsey Graham…not Lamar Alexander…not Mitch McConnell…not them nor any others.
And as it turned out, that prediction came true.
So why did I make that prediction? Because campaigns matter. And I didn’t see a strong enough infrastructure in place for any conservative to successfully challenge an incumbent U.S. Senator. That includes (but is not limited to) well-prepared/trained candidates, staff, volunteers, organization, and fundraisers.
It was my belief that incumbent GOP Senators were not going to be surprised in 2014 like some had been in 2010. In 2012, several GOP incumbents survived because they were ready (i.e. Orrin Hatch), proactive, and aggressive. They showed how to win in the new climate of GOP primaries, and their fellow incumbent Senators saw what they did and learned from their example. Without the element of surprise, conservative candidates were going to have to run better campaigns to succeed. And it just didn’t appear to me that they had the resources (or understanding) to do so.
My second prediction has yet to occur. I remain optimistic that it will come true.
In December of 2013, I predicted that the GOP would pick-up ten seats in the U.S. Senate. That’s a net gain of ten seats. No caveats. No conditions. No equivocation.
What was the basis of that prediction?
At the time, President Obama’s popularity had breached below the 50% favorability threshold that signals trouble. The single most important metric of off-year elections in a President’s second term is that President’s favorability rating. Over 50% and a President’s party does well enough (holds onto seats…limits losses…may even gain here or there). Under 50% and there’s trouble brewing. And under 45% means all he’s got left is his base…and they are usually not all that enthusiastic, making the election results even worse.
And the President’s fall in popularity was based upon a lack of trust. Once trust is lost, it is almost impossible to regain. Reagan (after Iran-Contra) and Clinton (after Lewinsky) recovered because they both admitted some level of responsibility. Obama never has (and never will) because to him, his problems are all everyone else’s fault. In fact, he just doubles down.
In the face of that climate, my belief was that Republicans would run the table and that 2014 would be similar to 2010. And so that’s what led to my prediction of a net of 10 seats for the GOP in the U.S. Senate.
That will mean no loses (so the GOP will need to retain Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia). And that means winning North Carolina and New Hampshire. We’ll know in a week.
But I’ll stand by that 2013 prediction and see where the chips fall.