The Hill has a story up today that points out vulnerable Democrats running for re-election this year will have more than just Obamacare to worry about come November:
President Obama and Democrats may not be able to rely on the economic recovery to bolster their chances in November’s midterm elections.
Even though there has been a raft of positive economic news recently, experts in key battleground states caution that other issues, notably ObamaCare, could loom even larger than the economy.
They also add that congressional races, whether for the House or Senate, can swing as easily on local priorities as on broader questions of the national economy. And in some cases, the local economic story is different from the emerging national trend.
For the GOP to wrest control of the Senate, the party needs to pick up six seats.
In Arkansas, where Republicans fancy their chances of ousting incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, the unemployment rate has edged up over the past 12 months and, at 7.5 percent, is now above the national average.
In Louisiana, where Sen. Mary Landrieu is the Democrat under threat, unemployment has also ticked up year-on-year — but only to 6.3 percent, a figure that is relatively healthy, at least in comparison to the country at large.
A mirror image of that situation is found in North Carolina, a key battleground where the GOP is seeking to topple Sen. Kay Hagan (D). Unemployment has dropped more precipitously in the Tar Heel State than anywhere else in the country, falling a full two percentage points between November 2012 and November 2013. Yet it still remains high, at 7.4 percent.
“I think there is a general sense that the state could be doing better, but I’m not sure the U.S. Senate race is going to be a referendum on the state economy,” said Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. “Healthcare will be huge and the real question for me is how much does the election end up being a referendum on each party’s brand?”
Democrats would of course hope that a rising economy nationally would help their brand. The national unemployment rate is now 7.0 percent which, a significant decrease from 7.8 percent a year ago. At the same time, unemployment remains elevated in historical terms, and much of the drop in the unemployment rate has come from people leaving the workforce.
In spite of the strong dislike of Obamacare across many parts of the country and the fact that many states aren’t seeing the so-called “economic recovery” the Obama administration (and their allies in the mainstream media) keeps touting, the Republicans are known for blowing elections spectacularly even when conditions on the ground favor them to win. So don’t think 2014 is a lock for the GOP in terms of winning seats in Congress. All the same, if things keep going south for Democrats as they have been for the last several months, it might just be that the GOP picks up seats by default because so many are sick of being told one thing by Democrats and actually experiencing something much different (and not for the better) later on.
As always, stay tuned.