The latest CNN poll has good news for Republicans: They haven’t blown the 2014 election — yet. “Democrats a month ago held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. . . . But the Democratic lead has disappeared. A new CNN/ORC poll indicates the GOP now holds a 49%-47% edge.” There are some Senate seats previously not thought to be in play, which are now competitive. The Senate therefore is winnable for the GOP, provided the GOP plays its cards correctly.
Here are 10 steps for Republicans to follow to victory:
1. Make a budget deal. A shutdown, a stand-off or any other example of GOP irresponsibility will kill the party.
2. The House should pass a reasonable immigration reform bill that can honestly be seen as an effort to address border security, availability of high- and low- skill workers and treatment of those here illegally. Even if the House and Senate never agree, the effort at least partially would defuse a Democratic talking point. (Anti-immigrant! Obstructionists!)
3. Nationalize the election. The big issues of the day — Obamacare, the lagging economy, the debt and Iran — are not strong ones for the president. Making the election a referendum on Obama’s disastrous second term should be the GOP’s objective.
4. Rally around an Obamacare alternative plan, if not actual legislation. Make it fit on a single page. The GOP plan should allow people buy whatever insurance they want (including catastrophic coverage), offer protection for pre-existing ailments, equalize tax treatment for those buying in the individual insurance market and offer states that want to expand Medicaid greater flexibility to manage their own programs. Instead of building exchanges that don’t work, build local clinics that can provide direct care. Democrats can defend the bureaucracy while Republicans treat people.
5. Republicans should ensure that every Democratic incumbent who has supported the Obama agenda is called to account. Every Senate incumbent is the 60th vote on the bill that won’t let you keep your doctor or your insurance.
6. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, elected Republicans and third-party groups need three criteria for choosing Senate nominees: Electability, electability, electability. With the withering away of the filibuster and the potential to get an Obamacare repeal measure passed through both houses (if bare majorities are the new way of the Senate, so be it) now is no time to adopt the DeMintian nonsense that 30 “real” conservatives are better than 50 run-of-the-mill Republicans. Any Republican who can win is better than a Republican who can’t.
7. When candidates get the urge to talk about God, rape and abortion (separately or collectively) they shouldn’t.
8. Gay marriage is no longer a federal issue so there is no need to say anything other than “I trust the people of my state to figure it out.”
9. Forget about tax and entitlement for now. It’s not happening so long as Obama is in office. Those are issues for 2016.
10. Make a list of every blown Senate race since 2008 (e.g. Todd Akin, Sharron Angle) as a reminder that Republicans lose when they behave foolishly.