It wasn't supposed to be like this.
At the end of 2013, the Washington Post's electoral number-crunchers calculated that the Democrats had a 1 percent chance to win back the House of Representatives. Barely into 2014, that already seems pretty optimistic. In the last week, several Democratic representatives saw the writing on the wall and voted with their feet, or with their seat, and announced they will be retiring.
Even a popular president can usually expect disappointing midterm results for his party. What makes things particularly dire for Democrats is that a president's approval rating has a significant impact on his party's prospects. Obama's approval rating is in the low forties, and while things can change, few would bet it will improve all that much between now and November.
One reason for that: The Obama administration is poised to give an incredible gift to the Republican Party. Before the end of the year, up to 80 million people could see their health plans canceled. Economist Stan Veuger, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that at least half the of estimated 157 million people on employer-provided health plans will start losing their existing coverage by the end of 2014 because their plans don't conform to the more generous -- and expensive -- demands of the Affordable Care Act. The bulk of the cancellation letters notifying employees should be going out in October, right before the midterm elections.
This could be the single most effective direct-mail campaign material in American history, and Republicans won't even have to pay for the postage.
The president's agenda for 2014, write Manu Raj and Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico, is a mix of initiatives designed to energize the Democratic base of women, students and blue-collar workers, and to attract independent voters -- aka the parts of the Obama presidential coalition he needs to turn out in the midterms.
Obama's standing with all of these groups has dropped considerably since the square-wheeled "rollout" of Obamacare. A slim majority of young people and women don't approve of his performance. As for independents, the key group for midterm elections, only 35 percent approve of his "handling his job as president," according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Fifty-three percent don't believe he is honest and trustworthy.
White House Supporting Democrat in Iowa But Doesn't Know His Name or What He's Running For | Katie Pavlich
Study Shows Liberals More Likely Than Conservatives to "Unfriend" Someone Over Politics | Christine Rousselle