SEEING RED, VOTING BLUE

04.23.14

Democrats, You Better Get Angry or You’ll Lose Congress

The pissed-off party wins midterm elections. Will the image of Ted Cruz chairing a committee or the Affordable Care Act getting gutted make the left show up?

Attention Democrats: Unless you start getting angry, the midterm elections are going to be a bloodbath.

The angriest voters win midterm elections and the right is really mad.  But in this case, their anger could end up amounting to more than just an unintelligible rant on Twitter. It could result in them taking control of the Senate and thus both chambers of Congress.

David Axelrod summed it up well over this past weekend: The anti-Obamacare voters are angry and hence more mobilized. Axelrod knows full well the history of our midterm elections and why anger matters.

Lets take a quick look at who came out to vote in the 2006 and 2010 elections. In both years, voter turnout was an anemic 40 percent. But the results were vastly different because of the people who came out to vote.

In 2006, many were pissed off with the Bush administration horrific handling of the war in In Iraq.  However, some were still “happy” because the economy was actually doing well with unemployment at a very low 4.5 percent

So who came out to vote? Exit polls found that only 35 percent of those voting were “enthusiastic” or “satisfied” with Bush. In contrast, a whopping 59 percent of the voters described themselves as “dissatisfied” or “angry” with Bush.  

What happens when the “happy” people stay home and the angry vote in droves? A bloodless coup of Congress. Democrats won big taking control of the House for the first time since 1994 as well gaining a majority in the US Senate.

Flash forward to 2010 and 25 percent of the voters who turned out were “satisfied” or “enthusiastic.”   However, 73 percent were “angry/dissatisfied.”

Unsurprisingly, Democrats took a beating. Republicans saw an astounding net gain of 60 seats to secure a majority in the House. In addition, the GOP took six Senate seats and seven governorships.

What does this mean for Democrats in 2014? If the only angry people are on the right, Republicans will easily win the six Senate seats they need to control the Senate. If you think Obama has had problems getting his agenda through a narrowly Democratic Senate,  just imagine what it will be like if the Republicans control that chamber.

So what can Democrats do to win in 2014 (or at least not lose the Senate?)  Some are advocating the, “embrace Obamacare” strategy. A poll released this week, however, found that independent voters would back the anti-Obamacare candidate by a whopping 25 percent point margin. So unless things change, “embrace Obamacare” sounds more like “fall on your sword.”

For the Democrats to at least retain the Senate, they need to mobilize parts of the coalition that helped Obama win in 2012 when voter turnout was 58 percent. Too many in these key constituency groups traditionally stay home in midterm elections, such as the young and minorities. Bottom line: Democrats need to run a micro-managed  campaign to energize (read: piss off) certain key parts of their base so these groups get angry enough to get out of their chairs and vote in November.

Of all these groups, Latino voters may in fact be the key for the Dems in 2014 since there will be a record 24.8 million eligible to vote in 2014. Only 31 percent of this group came out in 2010 midterm.

Consequently, there’s a great deal of potential upside if Democrats can mobilize this community.

Latino activist and attorney Raul Reyes said he believes that Latino voters would likely be energized to vote in 2014 if Obama took executive actions this summer that addressed immigration reform. This, coupled with continued GOP opposition to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, may be just the thing to motivate/anger the Latino voting base to vote this November.

What about the millennial voters?  I reached out to some via social media. The best suggestion was to target those on their parents’ health insurance policy because Obamacare extended coverage until they are 26 years old. This group needs to be aware that if the GOP is able to repeal Obamacare as they pledge, their insurance coverage will be gone. This could piss off a percentage of this voting bloc.

And for liberals who may have lost enthusiasm for the Obama administration, former Congressman Barney Frank explained to me that Democrats need to let them know about the right-wing people who will be chairing Senate committees if the GOP takes control of that chamber. For example, there are actual climate change deniers who might chair the Senate Committee on the Environment. Or maybe show a photo of Ted Cruz holding a gavel chairing a subcommittee. That has to anger some on left to vote.

There are a little over six months until November election. It’s your call Democrats: Get angry and vote or prepare to watch Cruz, Mitch McConnell and their right-wing buddies run the Senate.