Rough Year Ahead for Democrats

How would you rate Obama’s first term in office? A, B, C, Pass, No Pass? Whatever you rate it, the Democrats are in trouble in 2010 – but how much trouble?

If you’re Mr. Dick “I’m almost always wrong” Morris, you are predicting a full Republican takeover. Dick Morris, for those who do not know, was an adviser to President Bill Clinton until he resigned because he let prostitutes listen in on the president’s phone calls.  Since leaving the Clinton Administration he has been quick to denigrate the Clintons and other Democrats for that matter, while finding himself a home on Fox News.

Morris’ enthusiastic predication is not without some merit. Last place merit, but some merit nonetheless. Even GOP Chairman, Michael Steele, is hesitant to say the Republicans will take over. That shouldn’t be that controversial of a statement since it coincides with reality, but Steele has taken some flak for that. Political pundits have said that the Democrats could lose anywhere from 20 to 25 seats in the House and four to six seats in the Senate. The Democrats currently hold a 78-member advantage in the House and 10-member advantage in the Senate.

It would be wrong, however, to downplay the arcing theme that Democrats expect to lose seats regardless. Why is that? Well, historically presidents tend to lose some of their party members in Congress in the midterm election. This happens for a variety of reasons.  Some voters become disaffected because the president is not acting as they thought he would. Sometimes a party wins seats that under normal circumstances they would not have won. Then, in the next election, those seats turn over accordingly.

The current situation is a mixture of both. Democrats won in districts that went for Bush and McCain in the last couple presidential elections. Some of those wins are likely to go back to Red. The Democrats are also facing a number of candidates who are retiring such as Dodd and Dorgan. What doesn’t get a lot of air time is the fact that Republicans have more candidates retiring then Democrats – 14 to 10.

Democrats are also hampered by the fact that the unemployment rate still hovers around 10 percent. If people don’t have a job they are unlikely to re-elect you to yours. The unemployment rates seem like they will get better as the year goes on. So the effect that the economy will play on the midterm elections remains to be seen. It should hurt the Democrats, but by how much is uncertain.

Another factor that coincides with the aforementioned is the scare mongering done by the Right. Who can forget the tea party movement with their lovely Hitler-Obama euphemisms? Or when teabagger leader Mark Williams said that President Obama was an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug?” Republicans have politicized every moment they possibility could. And truth be told –it is working for them. Sort of. A lot of polls still show that the American people don’t trust Republicans on any issue. However, they are clouding the support for Democrats.

Democrats and Obama are also to be blamed for the failing support. At time, Obama lacks the consistent message he had on the campaign trail. On health care reform, he has let the opponents define the message. He also doesn’t seem to take the initiative in his policies, letting Congress take the forefront.

Liberals have been waiting a long time to pass progressive legislation. There is no doubt that after the 2010 midterm elections it will get harder to do so if the Democrats lose any significant ground in the House or just a couple of seats in the Senate.

Attracting moderate Republicans in the Senate has been harder to do than keeping a job in NBC late night. There is still time to create a message that is workable for the 2010 elections. It cannot be simply that Bush is, was and continues to be a negative for the country. They need to say that there is a mess and this is what we are trying to do to clean it up. They also need to highlight what they have done, and how it is helping. It’s hard to campaign on the slogan, “It could have been worse without us,” but it could have been worse. A lot worse.

Jaye Anthony Estrada is a fourth-year biological sciences and political science double-major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.