Current political wisdom, based on public opinion polls, town hall meetings, tea party protests, and the historical fact that the minority party usually picks up seats in the off-year elections, holds that a considerable number of Democrats will lose their seats in the November mid-term elections because they voted “yes” on Obamacare. But this view may be wrong. Here’s why.
The state of the economy is likely to be the most important factor in voters’ minds. The bulk of the stimulus money (excluding the tax cut component) has yet to be spent. The Federal Reserve Board is expected to maintain easy money throughout 2010. The president can allocate revolving TARP funds where they will most help Democrats. These sources of money will reinforce the upturn in the business cycle following the recession. The economic situation will look better in the fall than it has been since Obama took office.
If Republicans run on a platform of repealing Obamacare, Democrats will frighten voters that Republicans want to repeal or weaken Obamacare as a first step towards weakening and then dismantling Medicare and Social Security. Democrats will recycle the politically effective video in which former speaker Newt Gingrich stated that “Medicare will wither on the vine,” even though his statement was taken out of context.
Another factor is the president’s push for immigration reform. This effort will appeal to Hispanic voters as fellow undocumented Hispanics begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel for a path to legality and citizenship.
If Iraq remains reasonably stable for the next few months, Obama will bring 50,000 troops home by Labor Day, giving Democrats another boost.
On March 23, 2010, Intrade puts Democrat control of the Senate at 74 percent and Democrat control of the House of Representatives at 54.5 percent. I expect the latter number to rise as the economy improves over the spring and summer and troops beginning to return home from Iraq.