The mid-term elections are coming soon. (Soon as defined by the political world.) The scrambling has started (began months ago) and we are about to see the beginning of the post-Obama era in American politics.
Nevertheless, Barack Obama will remain 'the-elephant-in-the-room' for quite some time. On the GOP side, candidates will run solidly against him in the coming years. Never mind that their own base is shrinking and they are perceived as out-of-touch.
In the upcoming election cycle, Democratic candidate attachment to Obama will range from mild to lukewarm, depending on his poll numbers as he wraps up his term -- even though many Democratic office-holders were elected in 2008 and 2012 because of his coattails.
So what are the challenges for both parties going into 2014 and does it matter to the average citizen? (From a woman who actually LIVES the issues the pundits debate and the politicians ignore. I realize, as do most Americans, it is not about us everyday people!)
What happens during elections has more to do with the money and the contributors. CBS's 60-Minutes anchor Leslie Stahl summed it up in this video of only about a minute. (All the time that was needed to describe today's political and governing reality.)
But back to 2014.
Currently, the big questions are will the Democrats be able to retake the House of Representatives, and will the Republicans capture the Senate? There is no shortage of headlines on this:
From TPM - How Republicans Can Win The Senate -- And How They Can Screw It Up
(Sahil Kapur, August 12, 2013)
From the UK Guardian - Can the Democrats really win back the House in the 2014 midterms?
(Harry J. Enten, July 11, 2013)
From the President - Obama says Democrats could win back U.S. House in 2014.
(Reuters; Roberta Rampton, May 29, 2013)
As of now, the Democrats would have to pick up an additional 17 seats to retake the House and net six seats to keep the Senate. Reportedly, there are about 50 to 65 Congressional Districts 'in play,' although it is still too early to tell.
Even if the Democrats are able to retake the House, I'm not sure how much this would help the Obama agenda because several of the winners will most likely come from moderate or somewhat conservative leaning districts. This is also absolutely true for Democratic Senate prospects.
While Senators are in place for six years, House Reps are elected every two years and might not want to upset the apple-cart. They will show their true colors on women's rights, gun control, and immigration reform -- voting against the Administration (or stalling) during Obama's final two years as President. Especially if his polling numbers stay low.
However, if the Democrats do win the House, we will not have 40 more Obamacare repeal votes!!!
Perhaps the Democratic Party can unify around a set of national issues that will bring out their base. These would include Voting Rights (in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling and North Carolina's oppressive voter suppression laws); Women's Rights (reproductive choice and equal pay); Immigration Reform; and...if the administration successfully gets the message out and gets people to sign up -- keeping Obamacare.
Speaking of unity...we can count on the GOP to be lock-step in their national platform and rolling it out locally. Their problem remains their far-right 'birthers ' and bigots (even GOP strategist Michel Steele had to call them out as being "asinine" recently) and their voting pool is shrinking. Unfortunately, on the right there seems to be more emphasis on restricting the vote than coming up with policies and solutions to the issues Americans care about. 'NOBAMA' is NOT a governing strategy. (I still see those bumper stickers and just yesterday I saw one that said "We must DEFEAT HILLARY.")
In the real world -- jobs, housing, and education remain critical to most Americans, yet both parties have proven they can win elections without focusing on these areas -- as long as the money is there for never ending campaigns. Politics is now an industry in America. Which goes back to Leslie's Stahl's comments on our broken political system.
Much can happen between now and 2014 that might change the national political talking points and strategies.
Not to be forgotten -- the other part of the equation is who is controlling the state houses? Many of the policy decisions that affect everyday Americans come from state and local government. Talk about winning the battle (the Presidency) and losing the war -- think North Carolina...Wisconsin...and Florida among others. Democrats need to focus on state governments and defeating voter suppression efforts. The GOP needs to focus on 2014 and not returning to 1950.
As they say..."all politics is local." Stay tuned.