The disastrous Obamacare rollout has affected so many Americans that Republicans now have a “very good” chance of capturing control of the U.S. Senate in 2014, syndicated columnist and National Review editor Rich Lowry says.
Lowry, speaking in an exclusive Newsmax interview Tuesday afternoon, noted the 2014 elections appear to be “tilted toward Republicans” due to the large number Democrats up for re-election in GOP-leaning states.
Democrats currently hold a 55 to 45 advantage in the Senate. Republicans would need a net gain of six seats to seize control of the upper chamber and turn Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada into a back-bencher.
“At the moment it looks very good,” says Lowry, adding that “the single most important determinant of how the party that controls the presidency does in the midterm is the standing of the president. President [Barack] Obama’s has been quite low.”
Most analysts agree the Senate could be in play following the problem-plagued roll out of Obama’s signature healthcare reforms.
The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics for example, currently projects a net gain of three seats for Republicans, with two other seats rated as toss ups, on its “Sabato’s Crystal Ball.” That would leave Republicans just one seat away from control of the Senate.
Lowry notes that the midterm electorate tends to be much more favorable toward Republican candidates. Republicans have been running ads against vulnerable red state Democrats, reminding voters that they support Obamacare.
Democrats have begun to roll out a social-justice campaign touting income inequality as a “crisis” that must be addressed through extending unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, and more government spending to try to level the playing field.
In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Lowry acknowledged those issues poll well, but expressed strong doubts the tactic would distract voters from their frustration with Obamacare.
“The issues around Obamacare affect everyone so directly and so immediately,” Lowry says. “If you had your insurance canceled, or someone in your family has had their insurance canceled, or someone you know has had their insurance canceled, you feel that. That’s a real thing.
“Same thing if your premiums are going up or you can’t see your doctor anymore —
these are things that people take very personally.”
Lowry adds Republicans have done a reasonably good job of capitalizing on the balky
Obamacare rollout, mostly by honoring “the time-tested advice that when the other side is committing suicide just get out of the way.”
But the “missing piece” for Republicans, he says, is the need to develop their own alternative, market-based healthcare reforms.
“In repealing it, people are naturally going to ask, ‘Well, what are you going to do about all those people?’” Lowry says. “That makes it more important that Republicans have an alternative.”
Turning to 2016, Lowry says the emergence of Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as two early potential front-runners could make for a classic contest pitting a principled conservative in Cruz against an establishment Republican leader in Christie.
He notes Christie has demonstrated a proven ability to appeal to moderates and Democrats.
“The reason to be bullish on Christie’s prospects is that recent history of Republican presidential politics says the establish guy tends to win. Christie has a real chance to cement the establishment support. The usual dynamic is you have so many people on the right that’s all divided and you can win the nomination with 33 percent support, basically, if you just lock up the moderates and the regular Republicans,” says Lowry.
Cruz’s marathon speech opposing Obamacare have helped cement his position as a leader of the party’s movement-conservative base, he notes.
Says Lowry: “I would like to see Cruz running a campaign not just resting on the laurels of the kind of fights he has waged in the Senate, but really an idea-based, policy-based campaign with new Reagan-esque ideas that address the new concerns, and problems, we have in this country with fresh policies that are grounded in principle, but that really are relevant to what’s happening today rather than backwards looking.”
Lowry’s latest book is “Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream —
and How We Can Do It Again.” He says he is hoping the 2016 GOP primary will bring fresh conservative reforms to the fore.
“I would like to see Cruz, Christie, and anyone else who’s thinking about running for president competing on this innovative policy ground: What are our new ideas to effect our principles in the years ahead?” he says.
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