Senate Democrats on the 2014 ballot who were sitting in the House chamber last night had reason to worry — a lot.. Here are eight reasons they should be nervous:
1. The president is already a drag on the ticket in 2014 in swing states. Gallup reports that among the twelve states in which Obama is most unpopular (ranging from 22.5 percent to 35 percent approval) there are four hotly contested Senate seats where the Republican can lasso his opponent to the president (e.g. West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Alaska). In other competitive states, the president is also a drag. (Arkansas 34.9 percent, Louisiana 40 percent, New Hampshire 44.6 percent, Colorado 42.3). In the top 12 battleground states, his approval averages 36 percent.
2. Whatever you thought of the State of the Union address it was no game changer, and the Democratic candidates will have to defend a “more of the same” message.
3. The president doubled down on Obamacare, the Democrats’ greatest weakness, going so far as to claim it is “fixing” health care. (That provoked guffaws.) National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring e-mailed this morning: “The President doesn’t have to run again, so he can stand behind the podium and tickle himself silly about ObamaCare. The real joke, however, is on Democrats like Mark Begich, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan who are on the ballot in states that disapprove of Obama and are fed up with ObamaCare.” He cracked, “It’s no wonder that Begich flipped out — threatening to ‘drag’ Obama around his state.” He pointed out that Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) pointedly refused to say if he’d campaign with Obama.
4. Obama insisted that we’ve turned the corner on the economy, yet most voters feel we are in a recession. Democrats will either have to part company with Obama on this or argue with voters’ own perception.
5. In playing such small ball, Obama did little to fire up the base. How do Democrats expect to get their base out to vote?
6. He gave no hint he would lend Democrats from energy-producing states a hand by approving the Keystone XL pipeline. His “energy” policy is largely empty (work with industry) or anti-energy production (touting anti-climate change regulations).
7. His half-hearted cheer for immigration does little to set this up as a wedge issue for Democrats, regardless of whether something passes.
8. There is no driving theme or call to action. Why is it that Democrats want to maintain control of the Senate?