President Obama's victory over Republicans in the government shutdown fight has suddenly boosted the popularity and fundraising of Senate Democratic candidates, easing concerns that an anti-Obamacare wave would give control of the chamber to the GOP in the 2014 elections.
According to Democratic strategists, voter anger at the GOP, and especially the Republican-run House, has hurt the party’s chances of winning an additional six seats to take the majority and given the Democrats a new line of attack — the party’s candidates are reckless and destructive.
“Poll after poll shows that Republicans across the map are suffering because of the reckless and irresponsible government shutdown that nearly every GOP Senate candidate supported,” said Justin Barasky of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Democrats give credit for their improving chances to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose effort to defund Obamacare led to the sneered at 16-day government shutdown. They said it helped to overshadow the disastrous first days of Obamacare which several Democrats feared would hurt their chances next year.
“It took the focus off Obamacare and helped us dodge a bullet,” said a Senate Democratic aide. “The Obamacare launch could have been hung around our neck.”
It still could, of course. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said this week that he believes problems with the Obamacare website can be used to attack Democrats.
Brad Dayspring, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, added that Democrats are “living in D.C. bubble fantasy land and they should visit Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Alaska, or North Carolina to hear what voters are actually talking about.”
He countered that Democrats own Washington’s “dysfunctional disaster,” and will pay for Obamacare’s poor start. “Democrats are going to try do everything they can to distract voters from the ongoing ObamaCare disaster which is far more real, far more impactful, and far more tied to each of their candidates than any shutdown blame game,” he said.
Democratic-leaning polls have Democrats ahead or even in six Senate key races: Michigan, Iowa, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Donations have also poured in to Democratic campaigns.
What’s more, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to step up their campaigning and fundraising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the party’s slate, a chore they largely avoided in the last two congressional elections.
In several Senate races where GOP House members are running, Democratic officials plan to portray them as the type of “reckless and destructive” politicians that voters have told pollsters they don’t like, said a party insider. “The House Republican brand is toxic.” he added.
While buoyed, Democrats aren't going to far as to predict that they will be able to knock off Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in his Kentucky Senate race. But they have hope, armed with DSCC polling that shows 62 percent disapproving of his job performance.Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.