A USA Today/Pew poll has a lot of bad news for Democrats in 2014. Obamacare is as unpopular as ever (55 percent disapprove; 41 percent approve). The GOP has a substantial lead in generic congressional polling (47 percent to 43 percent), much greater than blow-out wins in 1994 and 2010. A plurality of Americans (43 percent) prefer Republicans to Democrats (39 percent) when it comes to the economy. Obama’s polling remains a problem for Democrats, dragging at 44 percent with 26 percent saying the congressional vote is a vote against him and only 16 percent saying it is a vote for him.
Looking ahead, it is not great for Hillary Clinton either. “Thinking about the next presidential election, 65% would like to see the next president offer different policies and programs from the Obama administration while 30% want Obama’s successor to offer similar policies. In April 2006, 70% wanted the next president to have policies different from Bush; 23% wanted similar policies. By contrast, in June 1999, at a later point in the Clinton administration, just half wanted the next president to pursue different policies.”
This may seem strange since we keep hearing about the 8 million Obamacare sign-ups. But many voters don’t believe that figure, understanding that some haven’t paid up or are not newly insured. Moreover, among those who disapprove of the law, a huge percentage don’t like the effect of Obamacare on prices (76 percent) or think it represents too much government intrusion into health care (80 percent). And there is much more intensity among those who disapprove. (“As in earlier surveys, opposition to the law is more intense than support: 43% of the public disapproves of the law very strongly and 11% disapprove of it not so strongly. By comparison, 26% approve of the law very strongly while 13% approve of it not so strongly.”) And, finally, despite the best hopes of Obamacare supporters, Obamacare remains one of the most important issues for 2014; now the gap between health care and jobs as the most important issue is only 6 percentage points.
But it gets worse when one considers the Senate. The key votes will take place in red states where there are more Republicans and anti-Obamacare voters and where disapproval of Obama is higher than the country as a whole. Indeed, The Post puts the chances of a Republican Senate takeover at 82 percent.
Republicans would be wise to remember the Senate comes down to individual races and specific candidates. They should choose wisely in primaries. And second, if they are going to win it would be good to run on an affirmative message. Individual candidates have specific agenda items; what is needed is a nationalized, pro-growth message. That will both lock down a win and give the GOP a chance to accomplish something in the last two years of the Obama administration.