Obama tells Democrats it's time to get worried
In recent weeks, President Obama has been telling his Democratic audiences at fundraisers that the writing is on the wall - the Senate is in jeapordy and that his party is in danger of getting "walloped" unless they wake themselves out of their stupor.
“You've got to pay attention to the states,” he begged at a recent fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association. Obama lamented that Democrats don’t think state-level races in the 2014 midterms are “sexy enough.”
Raising cash for Senate Democrats in Virginia, Obama said Democrats tend to get “a little sleepy” and “distracted.”
“We’re good at Senate and House elections during presidential years — it’s something about midterms," Obama said. "I don’t know what it is about us.”
And at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Boston, Obama said poor turnout could lead the party’s candidates to get “walloped.”
“It's happened before and it could happen again,” said Obama, who remembers all too well the shellacking his party took in 2010, when it lost control of the House.
In 2014, the worry is that Democrats will lose the Senate if the base doesn’t come out, and it’s an outcome that political observers and Democratic strategists say is more and more plausible.
Democrats are defending 21 of the 36 Senate seats up this fall, and election watchers widely expect the party to lose seats as they protect a fragile six-seat majority.
Democrats in red states like South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana have retired, and Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) are facing tough races.
“You just have a lot more red states than blue states in play,” said Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf.
Compounding that problem is that the demographic advantages the president exploited in 2012 — an influx of young and minority voters — are unlikely to materialize this cycle.
Older, white voters less friendly to the president are far more likely to head to the polls for a midterm election.
“The difference in electorates between midterm elections and presidential elections is stunning,” said Ken Goldstein, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco.
“We don’t know what the world looks like when there’s not an African American named Barack Obama on the top of the ticket,” he added.
What may be different this time around, compared to 2010, is the Democrat's huge advantage in technology and an ability to maximize the impact of social media. But even with those advantages, most analysts see the Dems edge helping blue state Senators who might be swamped in a wave election. It will do little to save Democrats running in red states who must face the wrath of voters on Obamacare.
The key to GOP success in November may boil down to two or three races - Iowa, Michigan, and perhaps New Hampshire. A Republican sweep of those Senate races will almost certainly give them the a majority - even if Republicans lose in Georgia or Kentucky.
Obama is right to be worried. Even with some clear advantages, Repulicans seem poised to wrest the Senate from Democratic control.