Two polls published this week indicate that the Republicans may have committed political suicide by causing the Shutdown.
If Congressional elections were held today, the Republicans would lose control of the House of Representatives in a landslide. Americans are fed up with the Republicans for creating the Shutdown, and, amazingly, the Democrats seem to have a plan in place to take advantage of the situation.
According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published Thursday, the vast majority of Americans blame the Republicans for the shutdown.
But what’s even more important, the poll indicates that the Republican Party’s popularity has sunk to its lowest level in the history of the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll. Only 24% of Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party.
At the same time, the poll indicates that President Obama is the most popular political figure in America; 47% of Americans approve of Obama‘s job performance. The Democrats are the second most popular; with 39% of Americans having a favorable view of the Democrats.
The Tea Party, on the other hand, sits at the bottom of the list with a dismal 21% favorable rating.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are mobilizing their base with a campaign that focuses on 17 swings seats in 11 States (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).
An email sent to Democrats earlier this week points out that there are currently 234 Republicans in the House and 201 Democrats, so the Democrats only need to win 17 seats to take back the majority in the House.
Polls indicate that Democrats have a lead over incumbent Republicans in 17 districts in those 11 States, and that is where the Democrats are focusing their attention. It’s a brilliant move.
“Avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”
The Art of War
Thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in the 2012 Congressional election, even though Democrats received 1.4 million more votes than Republicans did.
Because of the rampant gerrymandering, it is tough to defeat incumbents in Congressional elections.
In the 2012 elections, all 435 House seats were contested, and 393 of those seats were held by incumbents. Only 13 incumbents were defeated in the primary elections, and 22 incumbents were defeated in the general election, (10 Democrats and 12 Republicans).
Of the 393 House incumbents who ran for office in 2012, 358 were re-elected. That’s a re-election rate of 91.09%.
That is an almost perfect match for the 91.1% historical incumbent re-election rate reported in a 1995 Library of Congress study; "Re-election Rates of House Incumbents: 1790-1994."
But historically the incumbent re-election rates have varied from a high of 98.3% in 1988 to a low of 79.3% in 1948. In the last two election cycles covered by the study, the incumbent re-election rates were low. In 1994 only 89.8% of incumbents were re-elected and in 1992 only 89.3% were re-elected.
The Democrats’ strategy of targeting the 17 swing districts is the kind of campaign strategy that causes a lower than average incumbent re-election rate.
"I keep my eyes clear and I hit 'em where they ain't."
Wee Willie Keeler
Baseball Hall of Famer
Using the 2012 incumbent re-election rate, if all 234 Republican House incumbents run for office in 2014, then 213 (91%) of them should win. If all the 201 Democratic House incumbents run for office in 2014, then 183 (91%) of them should win.
So without the Democrats’ strategy, each party would also pick up the seats lost by the other party. The Republicans would retain 213 seats and add 18 from defeated Democrats for a total of 231. The Democrats would retain 183 seats and pick up an additional 21 for a total of 204.
But if the Democratic strategy works, and there is a good chance that it will, you have to subtract 17 seats from the Republican total and add 17 seats to the Democrats total. That would result in 221 Democrats being elected to Congress in 2014 and only 214 Republicans.
Democrats who think the strategy will work might just follow the advice in the email sent to Democrats, and “Chip in $10 or more to support democrats today.”
Republicans, who think the strategy will work, might just start looking for new leadership in the party.
The Shutdown has resulted in a lot of things the Republican leadership didn’t anticipate. If the Democrats play their cards right, you can add democrats seizing control of the House in the 2014 Congressional elections to the list.
If the polls are right, the biggest losers in the Shutdown will be the Republicans, the same people who caused the Shutdown in the first place.