For the past year, most political observers have focused on Republican opportunities to capture Senate seats in red-states like Louisiana and Arkansas. The GOP had a plausible, but narrow, path to capture enough of these seats to win control of the Senate. The ObamaCare disaster, however, has expanded the battlefield for control of the Senate. New polls show high-profile Democrats with negligible leads against phantom Republicans in IA, CO and MI. If these states are in play next year, Dem control of the Senate will be especially vulnerable.
Republicans, so far, have been unable to attract high-profile candidates to contest the open seats in Iowa and Michigan or challenge Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado. All three seats have been safely in the Democrat column for much of the year. The terrible rollout of ObamaCare, however, has hurt the poll numbers of Democrats everywhere. This has become most pronounced in states that weren’t considered competitive.
In Colorado, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall doesn’t draw more than 45% support against a host of possible GOP opponents. That level of support is a clear sign of vulnerability. Just a few months ago, Udall was a prohibitive favorite to win reelection.
Democrats in Iowa have rallied behind Rep. Bruce Braley for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. There is no clear GOP challenger, yet Braley can’t reach more than 42% against a number of possible challengers.
In Michigan, Rep. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), a typical union-backed Democrat, is running to replace Sen. Carl Levin. Again, there is no high-profile consensus GOP candidate, yet Peters can’t even crack 40% support in the polls. The most recent poll found Peters leading Republican former Secretary of State, Terri Land, by just one point, 37-36. Months ago, again, Peters was considered the overwhelming favorite.
Polls in these three states suggest that ObamaCare represents an existential threat to the Democrat party next year. Setting aside the problems with the website, the program will exert a gravitational pull on everyone’s health insurance. For most voters, the impact will be negative.
Barring some unexpected event, Democrats could be slow-walking to their own political oblivion. If the party has to spend money to defend its seat in Michigan, it is unlikely to hold its seats in states like North Carolina or Alaska.
The 2014 elections may be getting past the point that Republicans can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The party still hasn’t learned the lessons of 2010. They are about to get another primer from voters. Hopefully, the party will know now how to listen.