As yet another election season approaches, there’s a lot of talk about Democrats losing political offices, and Republicans gaining them. I’m not going to go into all of the reasons that Democrats have to worry, because those have been widely discussed, debated, and posited upon. Though I recognize that it is typical for the in-power party to lose seats in midterms, I want to present arguments that I think Republicans have to worry–and why they might not gain as many seats as so many seem to think.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
1) The GOP’s money problems
According to this article on Politico.com, the Republican National Committee, the RNC is having, ahem, financial difficulties. The committee had to take out $10 million in a line of credit to finance “relatively small” House races. They’re only able to pay for a fraction of the initiatives the RNC usually sponsors for elections, such as GOTV (get out the vote), phone banks, mailings, et cetera, and are instead relying upon conservative group American Crossroads to pick up the slack. Republican House and Senatorial Committees are only getting a fraction of the money they usually get, as are Gubernatorial and Congressional candidates.
This lack of cash flow will have a huge impact all over the political sphere–like it or not, our political system runs on money. The more of it a candidate or party has, the more resources they have to get their message out, to put their face in living rooms, and to get the desired demographics to the voting booth. It’s also a race. If a candidate has a significantly lower amount of cash to campaign with than does his or her opponent, then not only are not getting face-time, but your opponent is getting a lot of it, and voters are more likely to remember your opponent than you.
2. The Tea Party. Oh, yeah. The Tea Party. The gift that keeps on giving, but not so much to the Republican Party.
The Tea party is a recent phenomenon, a reaction to President Obama’s election. They haven’t yet experienced an election season, so the remainder of this year will be very interesting. Like many have pointed out, the Tea party’s lack of leadership, unity, and direction is attractive for rhetoric, but bad for getting things done. The Tea Party membership is also highly conservative. So much so, that in fact it may divide up the Republican party, making mainline Republicans to support certain candidates, while Tea Party Republicans will support more extreme candidates, with more extreme ideas and positions. This is not going to win elections. This is going to fracture the party, meanwhile, Democrats will have the same base of support they’ve always had.
3. Some candidates running for office.
Kentucky: US Senator: Rand Paul.
The Tea Party candidate, a darling of libertarians, Rand Paul is the one who famously came out against the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I must note, not against their ideals, but that they forced private businesses to stop discriminating, and required them to accommodate differently-abled employees (if they had over 20 employees). Regardless, as a self-declared Tea Partier, his radical views on long-standing legislation, especially legislation that has long been regarded in the public as necessary as well as huge gains for the United States, is not going to help the Tea Party, or the Republican Party be viewed as anything but “the party of no” and regression.
His glib reaction to the BP oil spill is also not going to help, especially considering the crickets from other Tea Partiers and Republicans when this came out.
Throw in that he certifies himself to practice Ophthalmology, that board is not certified by the American Medical Association, and new allegations of his involvement in a kidnapping and forced-pot-smoking on the victim, and Rand Paul looks like a bad candidate, indeed.
Nevada: US Senator: Sharron Angle
Another darling of the Tea Party, and vocal opponent of the health care reform, Sharron might have been okay here, considering how unpopular the bill has been with Conservatives, except:
“there’s nothing wrong with our health care system.”
Whoops! While many would say that the legislation wasn’t the answer to the issues within our health care system, very few would say that it is perfect as it is.
She’s the famous one who recommended “Second Amendment remedies” for political disagreements. Don’t like someone’s political views? Shoot ‘em up! Sorry, no. I’m in favor of gun rights, but only for personal safety. Only for self-defense. That definition doesn’t extend to intimidating people to win arguments or promote legislation. This is horrifying to most Americans–our political system is a democratic-republic and based in freedom of expression. Anyone advocating for repression of that is one that will repel and disgust Americans. Even though she has retracted this statement, it will not soon be forgotten by voters. Indeed, after this atrocity, her ratings dropped.
Throw in her statements advocating the “phasing out” of Medicare and Social Security, which is not going to sit well with older constituents, her refusal to speak to mainstream media outlets because they “won’t let [her] ask for money,” and her advocating the elimination of the Department of Education, and Sharron Angle’s election is not only in trouble, but also the image of the Republican Party.
She’s alienating parents, older voters, as well as those voters who abhor violence, value the back-and-forth our political system provides, and those who do not appreciate candidates who hide behind biased sources and refuse to speak to media outlets who won’t allow her to beg for money. So, pretty much everyone.
From Dan Raes thinking that a public bicycle program is evidence of a communist conspiracy, to Sharron Angle’s advocating getting rid of the Department of Education, these Tea Party candidates are dividing the GOP, and thus, votes in November. Moderates and Independents will likely not vote for such extreme-positioned candidates.
4. Ted Olsen.
The attorney made famous by representing George W. Bush in the infamous case Bush v. Gore, his fame increased by his teaming up with David Boies, his rival on the Bush v. Gore case, to fight Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative in California that re-banned same-sex marriage. Olsen is a prominent conservative lawyer. Few conservatives will come out in support of same-sex marriage, let alone go to bat for the equal rights of our GLBT citizens. He’s an example to fiscally-conservative-socially-liberal voters, showing them that they don’t have to hide their social-progressive views in order to be a Real(TM) Conservative.
Many Republicans are for GLBT rights, but will not advocate for them, let alone pressure their party to reverse course on their views, or even vote against candidates who hold extremely bigoted views of LGBT people. Ted Olsen shows these closeted supporters that they do not have to hide, that they should not, that they come out in support of our fellow citizens, and advocate for their equality. I don’t know who Ted Olsen supports politically, but his hard work (and victory!) in Perry v. Schwarzenegger should be someone progressive-conservatives should look up to, and vote against bigoted candidates, no matter their fiscal policies.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but for sure it demonstrates that the GOP is not going to have the easy gains it hopes to make in Congress and other public offices this November. The next few months will surely be interesting, as a voter, and as a political scientist.
What do you think?