The Republican Party continues to court internal disarray and is struggling to gain traction with Americans young, non-white, non-native born or gay. America’s changing demographics — less white, less native-born and more accepting of gays and lesbians’ rights — makes those votes vital in any national election.
Nevertheless, anyone with a basic understanding of U.S. politics can see that the party of President Barack Obama faces a few roadblocks for the 2014 midterm elections. One of them is the president himself.
On Thursday, a new CNN/ORC International poll showed that Obama’s influence will weigh heavily on congressional elections. Fifty-five percent of those polled by CNN said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the president.
(The CNN poll also showed that voter enthusiasm among polled Democrats was less than it was for Republicans, and that the GOP owned a slight advantage in the fight to control Congress in the last two years of Obama’s time in the White House.)
Set none of this in stone. As CNN’s pollsters correctly explained, the GOP swing in the congressional vote is directly linked to the Obama administration’s bungled rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its faulty website. Two months ago, a similar poll showed Democrats ahead in the congressional races by eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent. It’s now 49 percent to 44 percent in favor of the Republicans. Most of the swing has been caused by male voters, CNN’s polling director said; female voters continue to poll in favor of Democrats.
As the ACA’s website improves — and as more Americans sign up for health-care coverage — the bungled rollout’s influence may dissipate. It’s a long time between now and the opening of the 2014 polls.
But there’s no sugarcoating the fact that Democratic candidates for Congress — particularly those in vulnerable districts or states with diversity among voters — may face tough campaign choices as the election season heats up.