Arthur Christopher Schaper
On Townhall.com, two contributors contend that the Republican Party will have a wave election in 2014, or they will not.
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby says no:
It's a sweet dream. But don't count on seeing it come true.
One can forgive Jacoby's cynicism regarding the changeability of House Reps in Congressional elections, particularly off-years (although 1994 and 2010 served as tsunami elections against the Democratic incumbent President). For two decades, the Massachusetts GOP has witnesses its own slow demise, losing its last two house reps in 1996 (in part because of the 1994-1995 shutdown, but more likely the liberalizing trends shaping the Bay State). Determined that 2014 will provide little change in Congressional representation, Jacoby halfheartedly acknowledges the defeat of nine-term incumbent John Tierney, who barely gripped onto his MA-6 seat in Northeast Massachusetts by one percentage point in 2012. His Republican challenger during the last cycle, openly gay moderate Richard Tisei, was prepped to challenge him again as one of a slate of House GOP "Young Guns."
Surprisingly enough, Tierney lost to a dismissed challenger, Seth Moulton, who has blasted the now-ousted Tierney's incapacity to get things done. Still, even with Tierney and Cantor's loss (plus two other incumbent losses to primary challenges this year), Jacoby surmises that such revolutions in representation are quite rare. Regarding Jacoby's expectations of a whimper as opposed to a wave, Jacoby's frustration is justified, at least regarding a term-by-term analysis, particularly in Massachusetts.
Arguing more positively, Breitbart.com contributor Kurt Schlicter says yes:
Conservatives are going to win them going away, and it's going to be gloriously devastating to the progressive cause.
Citing less evidence but evincing more enthusiasm (he does refer to a book which he wrote detailing the coming conservative wave), Schlicter identifies the fearful damage-control from the Obama Administration. He further points out that the polling is tight currently in contested races, but the polling numbers were also close in the 2010 elections. Pointing out the national trends in politics, (something which Jacoby claimed to do, as well), Schlicter promotes all the indicators favoring Republicans: the sixth-year itch (When the party of the incumbent President in his second term always loses seats), the lingering economic malaise, massive foreign policy failures, the immigration crisis along the Southern border. The heap of scandals overwhelming the Obama Administration has spooked vulnerable Senate and House Democrats to run from their President and their party, playing up conservative causes and right-wing values.
The second column not only articulate the outrage among Middle America, and the charged-up excitement of the Republican base, but reminds readers that Obama has disappointed his own key supports (immigration activists, pacifists, hard-core progressives), and their dipping enthusiasm gap will only bring the Democrats' chances lowers, depressing the turnout, favoring Republicans all the more.
Where Schlicter brings pep, Jacoby rolls out stats, citing The Economist: "The royals of Capitol Hill"
Using a bare comparison between the number of changes among Europe's royal heads of state and American Congressmen, the Yankee counterparts can boast of a divine right legacy where they face fewer prospects of losing power.
Since 2012, when its members were last up for election, 30% of Europe’s monarchies have put newcomers on the throne. By contrast, only around 17 out of 435 House seats—less than 4%—will be competitive in November’s mid-terms.
On its face, the statistics proffer a shocking result: "Kings and queens are more likely to lose their seats than American Congressmen." A closer look at the stats, however, reveals that while turnover rates appear rare among elected House representatives, who claim with undue pretense their right to inherit their seats without a challenge, European royals never face a challenge to their power, and oftentimes they remain reigning for decades, if not longer. Also, there are only ten monarchs compared to four hundred thirty-five Congressmen, and the safety of their seats can change rapidly.
Furthermore, looking past local reactions to politicians, national trends recognize that political power turns over readily among national voters. Elections in 2006 and 2008 witnessed the Democratic Party’s dramatic resurgence, then 2010 returned the Republicans to the majority in the lower chamber. Come 2014, Republicans may finish in the US Senate what they had accomplished in the House.
Besides, House elections fall into play on one of three issues: retirement, redistricting, or single-issues. Election Year 2014 has so many issues which can polarize a race and pulverize incumbents. While the House numbers may change less this year (in part due to gerrymandering or voter apathy), the US Senate representation will shift considerably, like the crest of the tsunami which wiped out Democrats in 2010.
Is there a wave election coming in 2014? Looking at local races in a one-party state as Jacoby did, no. Considering the national picture and trends, like Schlicter, yes. Even though Jacoby cited prior outcomes and straight stats from The Economist, the flawed premise and methodology of those samples and cohorts distort the deeper significance of the 2014 election year, and reveal that indeed Republicans are looking good on the national front to ride another wave of voter discontent.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.