Riding this ‘Wave’ Election Into Office? Here’s How.

Hoping your opponents continue to screw up is no way to run a political campaign, but Republicans across the Country have to wonder what they did to deserve a field of Democratic opposition that is so uniformly hapless, and led by a President so tone-deaf to public sentiment. While it is still too early to begin measuring drapes for new offices on Capitol Hill, every single piece of available data, every trend, and all of history indicate that November 2 will be a “wave” election that washes Democratic incumbents out to sea and out of power.

First, history: The party that’s not in the White House almost always gains seats in Congress –that’s nearly axiomatic. A 39 seat net gain for Republicans in the House of Representatives is as certain as anything can be 64 days before an election, though a similar, takeover-sized gain in the Senate is not as certain. Second, the data: Nearly every poll conducted in August shows a clear majority of the country feels the nation is on the wrong track, while a mere third (or less) believe that we’re headed in the right direction. President Obama’s job approval rating is abysmal: 54.5% disapproval to 38.7% approval –and that’s just among independents! Mr. Obama can take comfort in the fact that while his numbers are bad, America hates Congress even more. Current polls show more than 71% of the people disapprove of Congress, while less than 20% approve.

These polling averages point to the trends that should have every Democratic staffer in Congress updating their resume. They indicate fear and anger –the two strongest motivators of voting behavior. Voters are not only fearful about the economy, they have lost faith in Congress to do anything about it. 60% of likely voters believe Congress doesn’t care what they think, and 57% say economic conditions are causing stress on their families. While unemployment remains officially at 9.5%, the number of people leaving the labor force or working part-time to get by is probably closer to 17%. Add the disastrous numbers from the housing sector, a mere 1.6% in economic growth, and you have the recipe for a wave election –for Democrats it’s not just a wave, it’s a perfect storm –And Captain Obama has just pointed the bow of the Andrea Gail right at it.

Republicans who want to swim with the tide of bad news for the Democrats need to remember another axiom: “All politics is local.” Democrats will run like crazy from their President, their Speaker, Washington in general and their own party in particular. Democrat Rep. Stephanie Sandlin, from South Dakota, has a TV ad touting the Second Amendment and “fiscally conservative values.” (No mention of her 2008 endorsement of then-candidate Barack Obama, nor her 6 years in office.) In Florida, Suzanne Kosmas takes credit for keeping jobs in her district –without mentioning her flip-flop from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ on Obamacare. And in New Hampshire, uber-liberal Carol Shea-Porter touts her efforts for veterans and the middle class.

In short, incumbent Democrats are attempting to become local populists for November’s elections. Smart Republican challengers will not let them. A successful campaign against an incumbent Democrat will tie President Obama, high unemployment, the economy, the failed (and monstrously expensive) stimulus bills around their opponents’ feet like a pair of concrete shoes –then throw them into the wave. The economy’s structural numbers don’t look good, and voters are clearly anxious about the future, and not their grandchildren’s future –their own. Republican challengers need to remind voters that unemployment has doubled since the Democrats took over, and the deficit has quadrupled. Republican candidates should also remind voters of the angry town hall meetings of last August –which became showcases for voter anger after the elected officials hosting them showed what idiots they are.

Democrats in Congress spent most of last year borrowing money to spend on things that have not improved the economy, (the stimulus, bailouts, cash-for-clunkers, Obamacare) and then being dismissive of the concerns of their own constituents. This has made people scared about the economy and angry at Democrat incumbents. Successful Republicans will unseat incumbent Democrats by riding the twin currents of anger and fear.

Mike Hassinger is owner of Apache Political, a campaign consulting and communications firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is not involved with any campaign mentioned in this article.

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