GOP may be too confident

Republicans are already counting the days before the November 2014 midterms. With the establishment Conservatives winning most of the primaries, the reasoning of GOP strategists is that the dubious nominations that cost them control of the Senate in 2010 and 2012 are not a factor and victory is assured. Not since 1948 and 1998 have Republicans been spending their money with such assurance. It is in the bag.

But this might be an oversimplification. What the Tea Party brought to the GOP in 2010 was enthusiasm. Even in 2008 Sarah Palin at first gave John McCain’s campaign a well-needed boost. So relying on tried and true conservatives takes one back to 2006 where Democrats broke through. If Tea Party voters stay home the Republicans will not do so well.

Despite Democratic laments that a large turnout benefits them and that midterm elections typically benefit Republicans, a reduced electorate may help them rather than Republicans. In 1998, John Edwards won, despite the GOP’s hammering away at Bill Clinton because Republicans stayed home in North Carolina. His opponent, a former Democrat turned Republican, excited no one and as a result lost. In the West Virginia primary this year, turnout was down – a sign that the voters may have used up all that supposed Republican razzle.

Certainly the GOP has gone back to the “grownups” strategy of another era. Experienced politicians like Thom Tillis will easily beat Kay Hagan in North Carolina, they believe. He routed his Tea Party rivals. But he also represents an unpopular legislature and an even more disliked governor. State factors perhaps will factor more than national issues. In early polls libertarians are taking 13 to 15 percent of the vote. Tillis is a traditional conservative and, for younger voters, this might be a turnoff.

Barack Obama still has a few actions he can take to galvanize Democrats. For one, he can stifle Secretary of State John Kerry’s bombastic tendencies and he can continue to play up an improving economy. As usual he does not show his cards early and he has a base which sticks with him, come what may. Republican triumph is anything but assured.

Fortunately, his opposition does not exploit his weakness. They rail against the Benghazi incident of September 2012, but do not question the irresponsible policies that put those Americans in harm’s way in the first place. On Edward Snowden they go even father than Kerry to the degree they would prefer to punish him – ignoring the very issue of violation of privacy. So much for libertarian values. So no matter how disappointing Obama has become for Democrats and Independents they have little reason to support the GOP.

Moreover, the open bashing of the Tea Party makes it appear that they are mere useful shock troops for a Republican rising in 2010. A little nod and wink, they were useful then, they are dispensable now.

What a message for younger voters.