PHOTO CAPTION: The President and the Secretary of State are shown celebrating in the White House Situation Room on March 21, 2010. They had just been told the health care reform bill had won a final passage victory by a vote of 219 to 212. The National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones USMC (Ret), is in the foreground.
The U.S. elections are still five months away. While the political outlook could change significantly during that time, the GOP continues to have impressive poll numbers across the nation. The GOP support scores have surged in the three months since Congress passed the health care reform bill without a single Republican vote.
National support for the bill has increased since March from 39% to 45%, but approval numbers in the battleground districts continue to be dismal for the Democrats. In stark contrast to the 2006 and 2008 elections, Democrats are suffering voter backlash on major issues.
The public is now focused on the economy, jobs and deficit spending, and the Obama honeymoon appears to be over. The poor economy resulted in a 2008 Democratic landslide and it is now fueling the 2010 GOP surge.
Previous voter concerns regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global warming and social issues have faded. In addition to health care, the $862 billion stimulus and the $3.6 trillion omnibus 2010 budget are proving to be highly unpopular. The major recent developments include:
Democrats control the House of Representatives by a 257 to 178 margin, but the polling averages now show a huge drop in support for the majority party. If the election was held today the Democrats would have a slim 201 to 199 lead, with 35 districts in the undecided category.
- Democrats were able to pass health care because of their 60 seat super majority in the U.S. Senate. They lost that status days later with the upset victory of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). If the election was held today, the GOP would gain seven additional seats and the new breakdown would be 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) tactic of running the upper body with a series of cloture votes would no longer work if the GOP gains strength. Democrats in the 112th Congress will have to compromise with Republicans.
- Probably the best news for the GOP is that they are now winning or are tied in gubernatorial elections in 7 of the 8 largest states. These states represent 48% of the American population and in 2008 they were firmly in President Obama’s column. A switch of even one of these states would be a significant boost to the GOP’s prospects of gaining a 2012 majority in the electoral college.
- Republicans have nominated controversial candidates in Kentucky and Nevada, and the Senate elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and Missouri are all close. The good news for the GOP is that independent voters are continuing to break in their direction.
- It is difficult to see how Democrats will turn the present situation around because so much of the focus is on the deficit. GOP candidates are emphasizing that interest payments on the debt this year are $202 billion, but that will rise to over $700 billion by 2019. An additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, agriculture, transportation, commerce, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.