By all rights, the GOP should be walking away with the mid-term elections, a shoo-in to capture the Senate and even make gains in the House, which they already hold by a comfortable margin.
After all, the job environment remains dismal. According to the union-backed Economic Policy Institute, if you are a recent college grad, your chances of being unemployed or underemployed are 25 percent. If you are a recent high school grad not going to college, those odds rise to 63 percen
It is not much better for women and minorities. The number of women and minorities employed in the United States is all but unchanged since the Democrats took over the government in 2009. The incomes of both have dropped.
These groups have strongly favored Mr. Obama, but the last six years have been a disaster for them. Normally, it would be a fair bet that many of them would elect to stay home.
Then, too, with daily headlines focused on Vladimir Putin’s adventurism and ISIS’s latest atrocities – and with a border with Mexico that the Democrats have fought to keep effectively open now understood to be a terrorist sieve — this is shaping up to be a national security election. The question of the year is, “Are you safer now than you were six years ago?” That’s a bad question for any Democratic candidate
But before getting too giddy, remember, the Democrats have a secret weapon. Remember all those fundraisers the president has attended? And those golf games where surely his cart mates were forking over major bucks for a round on the links with the big guy? Team Obama may not know how to run the government, revive the economy or keep the country out of harms way. But they sure know how to raise and spend campaign money.
Their spending is as sophisticated as their raising. Here is a sign of what they are doing and how they are doing it.
Since 2010, the Wesleyan Media Project (http://mediaproject.wesleyan.edu/, at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut) has been buying comprehensive, real time, market-by-market television and cable advertising data on all president, governor, Senate, and House races around the nation. The project sifts the information by character of the ads and other factors.
This year one word is coming through from the project’s reports: swamped. Advertising on behalf of Democratic candidates is swamping what is being done for Republicans.
For all Senate races, from late August to mid September, the number of pro-Democrat ad airings totaled 34,000, compared to 29,000 for Republicans, meaning that for every five ads the Republicans run, the Democrats put up just short of six. In House races the margin was almost two airings to one, 20,554-10,855.
According to the Wesleyan project’s analysis, Democrat Senate campaigns have been significantly outspending Republicans in the toss-up states (per Real Clear Politics) of Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan and Iowa. They are also overwhelming the GOP in safe (for them) Washington State, Minnesota, New Mexico and Virginia. And their tone is harsher. In Senate races, Wesleyan reports, “Democrats [are] far more likely to air pure attack ads (42 percent) and Republicans [to air] more contrast spots (42 percent).”
The Democrat’s tsunami will only build. None of this data takes into account online ad buys and social media, where the Democrats are thought to have a significant advantaged over the GOP. Then, too, campaigns typically reserve half their ad budgets for the last two weeks before Election Day, although with pre-Election Day voting already underway in some places, that pattern may be diminishing.
With all this, it is no wonder that the mathematical modelers are basically calling the GOP chances of taking over the Senate (http://wapo.st/1rvu0Bl) close to even, or perhaps a little below even.
The lesson here is not gloom and doom. It is just what Yogi Berra said of baseball: “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over.” Berra was a champion. Champions have the grit to come from behind. In 2014, will the GOP?