Recently as part of a media symposium on PJ Media I was asked the question, “How big will the GOP wave be in November?”
To help me answer this difficult and presumptive question in a constantly changing political environment, I called a leading Republican strategist (name withheld by request) whose clients include prominent senators, governors, congressmen/women and candidates vying to win one of those titles.
Our strategist is currently deployed on a campaign “battleship” where he is engaged in churning the waters in hopes that on Election Day a “big GOP wave” will crash down on Democrats.
When asked about the size of the wave he replied, “You feel something is coming but you don’t know if it is a small ripple, a wave or a tsunami. I hope it does crash. All sizes are possible – but it is a long way from shore.”
Then he revealed that this election cycle is not all smooth sailing. Several of his races are tightening up, saying, “A few more things need to break our way.”
Originally all GOP campaign strategists believed that Obamacare would be the lead issue for 2014. However, even though polls show Obamacare is still unpopular the tide has turned and this strategist knows that healthcare will be among several issues motivating voters -- chief among them the economy and not all the news is bad.
In fact, there has been noteworthy economic improvement in some of the states where he is running gubernatorial races and the economy should work to his candidates’ advantage.
But overall in his Federal races across the country he is sensing strong feelings of “Let’s make a change” among voters.
This attitude is based on Obama's unpopularity and further reflected in a recent Fox News poll showing how voters believe that Obama has made America weaker. The perception that Obama’s policies have contributed to weakness were growing well before the Taliban/Bergdahl exchange fiasco began to dominate headlines. Today with Islamists closing in on Baghdad the weakness issue is one to watch, especially if US Embassy personnel are forced to evacuate in haste, “Vietnam style” with helicopters on the embassy roof.
So how are those “Let’s make a change” feelings translating into actual numbers?
The current House scoreboard at Real Clear Politics predicts that Republicans will remain in control of the lower chamber even in the unlikely event that Democrats were to win all 17 toss-up seats.
Despite the historic political earthquake of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor losing his primary race in Virginia’s conservative 7th congressional district and stepping down as Leader, it is highly doubtful that Cantor’s loss will affect the big picture of Republicans maintaining control of Congress.
Meanwhile, the Battle for the Senate is a toss-up of epic proportions and should be named the “Mother of all Senate Battles.” In mid-June no one can predict the outcome of this brutal battle for Senate control with too many “unknowns” yet to be determined.
Here is a list of the top five unknowns in order of importance:
Turn out is the major unknown.
Republicans believe Democrats will do anything to motivate their base especially since this recent Gallup poll illustrates all voter enthusiasm has declined from 2010, but even more so for Democrats.
A natural disaster of epic proportions, or a major terrorist attack.
The ultimate unknown for any election is a cataclysmic event.
A major foreign policy crisis.
The world is a tinderbox. President Obama will be tested by our enemies as the election nears or even instigate his own “October surprise” to prove that he is a strong leader. Such an event could have a significant impact on the election.
How successful will the Republicans be in leveraging all the Obama administration scandals?
How well GOP candidates motivate their base and independent voters by effectively messaging numerous scandals such as the IRS, VA, NSA, Obamacare, Benghazi and the negatively viewed Taliban/Bergdahl exchange will be the major factors in “wave” size.
Moreover, the recent flood of immigrant children crossing our borders and being housed in third-world like refugee camps could also develop into a passionate campaign issue that is starting to be leveraged against Obama. This crisis even has the potential to be Obama's hurricane Katrina doing lasting damage to his presidency.
How effective will Obama be in utilizing scare tactics to motivate his base?
Republicans believe truth is inconvenient for President Obama and when lies are repeated often enough they become “true.” So the GOP fully expects Obama to provoke false fear in the minds of his loyal base by emphasizing the personal negative consequences they can expect to feel if the GOP were to win control of the Senate. Look for Obama to re-ignite the faux “War on Women” and use minimum wage/income inequality/ immigration and healthcare issues in clever half-truth talking points to demonize Republicans.
Finally, the most important “known” is anything can and will happen between now and Election Day.
Per that leading Republican strategist: “A large wave is not a foregone conclusion.”