Democrats oblivious to rising tide of unhappy voters may be shocked by Republican midterm wins in special elections – by Jill Filipovic
The Washington Post Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The Republican gains in the special elections this week, by two-to-one, have stunned pundits and Democrats who often underestimate the role that anger and disaffection play in deciding races.
The story behind the GOP’s wins is simple: Voters were angry about a wide number of issues, especially Obamacare, and felt betrayed by Republicans in both Congress and the White House. The anger has been building for at least a year, and the GOP’s anger is on par with that of the tea party movement.
The Democrats’ losses have been even more striking; they never had a national profile equivalent to the tea party, and this year, like 2012, had difficulty connecting to the angry electorate that Republicans were energizing.
The Democrats’ lack of coattails also had an impact in many of these races. This is one of several reasons why Democrats are still far behind their 2008 and 2012 counterparts with women and independents who voted for Obama by huge margins. The Democratic Congressional campaign arm’s “Women and Independents Project” has taken a big hit due to the Tea Party and their attacks on health care, but it will be back soon, this time with their biggest asset, women.
The political experts who thought that Democrats would dominate the special congressional races this year are now faced with two big questions: Will the Obama coalition continue to be solid, or will the anger spread? Is House Speaker John Boehner’s attempt to cut off funding for Obamacare going to work?
The Democrats’ dilemma is that anger tends to be contagious and it can spread like wildfire. If the GOP continues winning close House and Senate races, it will only be a matter of time before the anger becomes a movement. And if anger spreads like a wildfire, the GOP’s agenda of cutting taxes and attacking Obamacare may well be swept away.
The other issue is that many pundits and Democrats have downplayed the role that discontent plays in the special elections. Even today, I am told, most media outlets are ignoring the polls showing that voters