3 Questions that Will Determine if 2014 Will Be a ‘Wave Election’
Down the stretch with just days to go the question remains—will 2014 be a “wave election” for Republicans?
Recently I asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who helped engineer the historic 1994 GOP takeover of Congress, for evidence of a similar wave this year. Gingrich said the two years are difficult to compare because polling is much more sophisticated now than it was back then, so it’s tougher to have Election Day surprises these days. Gingrich also told me they had no idea in 1994 a tidal wave was possible until the final few days of the election, so he still thinks it’s possible given the current trend line for 2014 to become a late-breaking wave as well.
Here are the three questions still to be answered this final week of the 2014 campaign that will likely determine if Newt is right.
- Just how energized is the conservative base?
If the relationship between conservatives and the Republican Party were a Facebook status it would be “it’s complicated.” Overall, polls have consistently shown conservatives are far more energized than liberals this year, and this environment is much closer to 2010 than 2012. However, there are places where the GOP nominee is still struggling to turn out his base. Look no further than where Ted Cruz is being summoned down the stretch, to know where that is. For example, Cruz has been to Kansas to aid Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and his mediocre 66% “Liberty Score” here at CR, as well as David Perdue’s trailing campaign in reliable “red state” Georgia.
In two other Republican states where conservatives challenged the GOP establishment during the primary cycle, Kentucky and North Carolina, the more moderate GOP establishment nominee is mired in a “toss-up” race according to Real Clear Politics. It’s doubtful that is a coincidence.
This dynamic is even more prevalent in several governors’ races, where moderate Republicans are struggling to capitalize on a friendly environment. Rick Snyder in Michigan, Bob Beauprez in Colorado, Rick Scott in Florida, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin are either trailing or in 1-point races according to the CBS News/New York Times poll released on October 27th. All but Beauprez have the advantage of being incumbents, and this poll was taken before Beauprez said in an interview last week that he is not pro-life.
- Can Republicans successfully nationalize the election, which they should’ve been doing all along?
Many respected conservatives from former Reagan White House Political Director Jeffrey Lord, to the “funding father” of the movement Richard Viguerie, have been on my radio show throughout this year urging Republicans to nationalize this campaign. Similar to what was successfully done in 1994 (Contract with America) and 2010 (rise of the Tea Party). But that would require forward-thinking leadership, and a willingness to be held accountable from today’s feckless national GOP, so that never happened. This has allowed Democrats to try and insulate themselves from Obama by localizing races, which Michelle Nunn is doing well in Georgia by capitalizing on her popular father. Thankfully, Obama recently decided to nationalize the election for us, by letting everyone know his unpopular policies are on the ballot next Tuesday. Republicans who actually want to win should be linking their Democrat opponent with that clip in every commercial they run these final few days.
- Is it possible independents stay home to issue a “pox on both their houses?”
Voter enthusiasm is the lowest it’s ever been in a mid-term election, and with both parties’ escalating unpopularity we’re seeing one of the worst barrages of negative campaigning in recent memory. While this drives out each side’s base – and midterm elections are typically turn-out-your-base contests – it drives away independents. That could be the key to 2014 evolving from a good GOP year to a wave election, because Republicans need independents to turn out en masse in places like Virginia and New Hampshire to pull off U.S. Senate upsets there.
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