Watching this election cycle has been like watching a movie that’s really bad but you can’t manage to walk out of the theatre. The Tea Party is the stupid friend who is funny (think Zach Galifianakis), the Republicans are the guys who seem alright but keep getting everyone else into the dumb situations (Mike Myers in Wayne’s World), and the Democrats are supposed to be one of the main characters but you really have no idea what they’re doing there (Gene Hackman in Heartbreakers).
The Tea Party has managed to nominate people with no political experience, or for that matter any experience, and single handedly made what should have been strong races for Republicans and turned them into toss ups. Harry Reid was behind more then ten points in generic ballots (at which point a politicians tombstone is usually being built), but has been able to make Nevada a close race. But he can only thank his opponent Sharron Angle who made demoralizing comments toward Latinos. Alaska shouldn’t even have been a contest with the conservative Republican Lisa (spell my name) Murkowski, but I guess she wasn’t obnoxious enough for the Tea Party. So instead, the nomination goes to Joe Miller whose claim to fame is being a lumberjack. And then there’s Christine O’ Donnell. Running for Vice President Joseph Biden’s former seat, she lied about finishing college, her personal finances, and being a witch.
Since the Tea Party has become the main character the Republicans can’t get rid of them. They need them for the movie to go on and to win on Tuesday. Even with this apparent hijacking, the Republicans can’t say anything because they need the Tea Party. Unfortunately, most people don’t vote in the midterm election, and less in the primary where the people listed above became famous, which give these small groups more influence.
After passing two historic pieces of legislation, the Democrats aren’t able to come up with a strong message to tell voters. President Obama should be proud of what he’s accomplished in the past two years. But part of being President is also being Communicator In Chief. While the debates for health care and financial reform were taking place, he should have been out there talking to the people and saying what he wanted passed in this legislation. He knows he will be compared to other Presidents like FDR, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. While on paper they’ve accomplished similar feats, Obama didn’t use the bully pulpit like the others did to win the political points he needs right now.
My prediction for Tuesday: Democrats lose 23 seats in the House and the Republicans are one short of taking the Senate. The script for this disaster will be spun in two ways. Republicans will say it is a referendum on President Obama and his agenda. Democrats will say there were seats we knew we were going to lose, while historically, new Presidents always lose seats in the midterm elections. Democrats will look like they’re giving excuses, and they are. I know I’ve said this before, but for a campaign that was so good at delivering a message and being clear as to what they wanted to accomplish, you almost wonder how they won just two years ago.
Not having a strong message explains the big difference between voter enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. Liberals feel they worked so hard to elect a candidate they believed in and they still got the short end of the stick. But change has always been slow. With these types of movies there is usually a sequel or a spinoff, but it doesn’t necessarily means it is as bad. Maybe next time the Democrats can figure out what to do.