Greg Sargent of the Washington Post has a warning for Republicans: wake up before their brand implodes completely.
Republicans successfully converted the 2010 elections into a referendum on President Obama... As a result, they won big. Now Democrats are hoping to turn the 2014 elections into a referendum on the GOP brand and the destructive excesses of Tea Party governance.
Sargent points to a new Washington Post poll showing that the GOP's unfavorable ratings among Americans at an all-time high of 63 percent while GOP popularity has crumbled in four key constituencies: women, seniors, independents, and white college grads.
It's particularly alarming when examining Sargent's chart showing how public opinion has shifted from just one year ago. Among seniors (65+), the GOP's unfavorable ratings jumped from 49 percent to 65 percent --a 19-point increase. It's up 17 points among independents and 21 points among white college grads, a demographic one pundit has dubbed the "coalition of the ascendant" (and that includes statewide races, not just national ones.).
Christine Matthews, the president at Bellwether Research, tweets, "Among college educated women: GOP 74 percent unfavorable. That turns states like VA, NC, PA blue." Justin Breen, the online editor at the Washington Examiner, jokes, "Why Republicans should stop listening to @SenTedCruz, in one chart."
Sargent writes, "There is still plenty of time for the current political atmosphere to change, of course. But the possibility of more GOP crises and chaos governing in 2014 --which could reinforce current public impressions of the GOP-- remains very real."
The first big test is already here: immigration reform. Still smarting from a government shutdown, a push to bring immigration legislation to the House floor threatens to create another schism in the Republican Party.
A coalition of business, agricultural and evangelical leaders, and big donors, are part of a lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill this coming week that's considering withholding future financial support to GOP lawmakers they believe are obstructing progress on immigration. Some have already decided to withhold contributions.
House Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor support the GOP taking up its own immigration bill since the Senate has passed comprehensive legislation, but once again, as the NY Times points out, hardline House conservatives are digging in, saying they're in no mood to negotiate, apparently in part because they badly lost the shutdown battle to Obama.
Except the shutdown is precisely what's alienated this coalition of about 600 longtime Republican supporters, including the U-S Chamber of Commerce, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; Silicon Valley executives, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Marriott,Jr. Together, they plan to target some 80 House reps from 40 states, all of them Republicans.
We're heading for an "off-year" election, and a year is a long time in politics; anything can happen. If the forecasts hold for November 2014, Democrats will still have a majority Senate and Republicans will have a smaller majority in the House. But it's 2016 the GOP needs to brace for.
The demographic shift in sentiment from last year to this is nearly 20 points to the left. If the GOP doesn't move significantly toward the center and somehow stifle the tea party influence in primaries by 2016, the Democrats will then get the trifecta of control in the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, despite the gerrymandering that supposedly renders the House a Republican lock. If that happens they'll hold Congress for decades.