Nate Silver contends the 2014 midterms are the “least important” election in years.
Okay, sure, depending upon how many years he means. The stakes in a midterm election cycle are lower than in a presidential cycle. Because of the makeup of the House, redistricting, the particular states that have Senate elections this cycle, and other factors, the range of possible outcomes appears to go from a slightly smaller GOP House majority and a slightly smaller Democratic Senate majority, or a slightly larger GOP House majority and a slim GOP Senate majority.
(I can hear you now: “Okay, Democrats, if they’re so unimportant, then go ahead and concede them!”)
Our Charlie Cooke noted earlier this year that the difference between a Republican Senate and a Democratic one is the difference between two more years of the status quo and President Obama’s winding down with two years of hellacious time with confirmation fights, a slew of unpopular vetoes of GOP bills calling for the Keystone pipeline, lower tax rates, increased military spending, repealing unpopular provisions of Obamacare, and so on.
By some measures, Obama is already a lame duck; he’s extremely unlikely to get any major bills passed with a GOP-controlled House and the press increasingly more interested in Hillary Clinton and the potential GOP contenders. But another GOP wave election would accelerate the sense that Obama’s just running out the clock.
Another drubbing of the Democrats in the midterms would cement Obama’s reputation as a rather overrated political force; while he effectively sold himself in two presidential campaigns, he couldn’t sell his agenda or his allies when he wasn’t on the ballot. Historians who aren’t already in the tank for Obama may conclude that he soared because of his personal charisma and inspiring life story, not a broadly popular agenda or vision.
Beyond that, winning begets winning. Silver writes near the end “this year’s federal elections are mostly in how they’ll set up 2016” — and that sure as heck is important! Republicans are largely persuaded that if they lose in 2016, the American Republic is doomed. If the Democratic nominee loses in 2016, the party may be forced to reevaluate their confidence that demographic changes represent an ever-stronger wind at their back.