During a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, former President Barack Obama warned Democrats not to think Congress will turn blue just because they wish it so.
Obama spoke at a $2,700-per-person fundraising event on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Although most of the event was closed to the media, reporters were allowed to hear a political discussion between Obama and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
“I would caution us from extrapolating too much from a bunch of special elections and starting to think that, ‘OK, this will take care of itself.’ Because it won’t,” Obama said, characterizing the Republican approach to winning votes as one based upon fear.
It would be a mistake, he added, to “go back to business as usual” or assume momentum from those races will carry Democrats through November.
Traditionally, the midterm elections that come two years after a president is elected result in a loss of seats for the president’s governing party. That has led Democrats and pollsters to predict a number of “blue wave” scenarios including Democratic majorities in the House or Senate, both of which are under GOP control.
However, as the elections begin to appear on the radar screen of average Americans, and not just political insiders, that view is evolving.
“Well, I think if you looked six months ago, you would say it was doomsday for the Republicans with the Republican down in the 30s, showing a double-digit lead for Democrats,” said Real Clear Politics senior elections analyst Sean Trende this week on “Fox and Friends.”
“But that’s just not the world we’re in today. The president is up into the low to mid 40s, and his job approval, the generic ballot has closed to a four-point lead for the Democrats, so I think we’ve gone from Democrats being heavy favorites to take the House to something of a dead heat and maybe a thumb on the scale for the Republicans,” he said, according to Real Clear Politics.
Trende said GOP success, even in traditionally blue states such as California, is “a real concern for the Democrats.”
“They have this top two primary system where everyone runs in the same race, and the top two make it to the election. There’s a lot of Democrats running, they could divide the democratic vote, and you could end up with two Republicans in the general election shutting the Democrats out, which is sort of a nightmare scenario for Democrats,” he said.
However, two years after polls were resoundingly off in their predictions, one voice said it is too early to make accurate guesses.
“Let’s pour a little water on the hot takes. The generic House ballot seems to have improved for the Republicans … although this average is driven largely by a few polls that have been bouncing around a lot,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, according to Vox. A generic ballot is one in which voters are asked to compare an unnamed Democrat running for office with an unnamed Republican.
“In reality, the generic ballot has been pretty stable since March but is significantly worse for Democrats than where it was at the start of the year,” he said. “The Democrats are not in the same enviable position they were five months ago, but that doesn’t mean we have any idea what the next five months will bring.”
President Donald Trump has publicly scoffed at the “blue wave” theory.
“We must elect more Republicans, we have to do that. And the problem is in the Senate, we have 51. We don’t have enough,” Trump said in North Dakota on Wednesday, citing Tuesday’s primary elections, according to The Daily Caller. “Their blue wave is really sputtering pretty badly. The red wave is happening — just look what happened last night.”
In his pep talk to Democrats, Obama noted one fundamental political truth.
“I’m giving you the executive summary: Vote. Participate. Get involved,” he said. “And do not wait for the perfect message, and don’t want to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving. Politics, like life, is imperfect. But there is better and there is worse.”
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