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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Why Democrats Shouldn't Be Celebrating

There seemed to be a pop-the-champagne mood among Democrats after the Obama administration's announcement that 8 million Americans had signed up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats, desperate for good news, became euphoric at the suggestion that perhaps they had turned the corner on Obamacare, moving from it being a likely political liability to an asset, and that maybe the 2014 midterm elections might not be so bad. The fact that 8 million is less than 3 percent of the 313.9 million people in the United States seemed lost in the shuffle.

My impression at the time was that this sounded a bit too much like whistling past the graveyard. Now an array of new polling from a variety of sources suggests that Democrats have no reason to be encouraged at this point. Things still look pretty awful for the party. Especially meaningful to consider is that—no matter how bad the national poll numbers appear for Democrats—eight of their nine most vulnerable Senate seats this year are in states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Further, nine of the most competitive 11 Senate seats in both parties are in Romney states; the ...

Party Paranoia Could Destroy Hopes of Immigration Reform

Leading up to last year's Senate debate and the eventual passage of comprehensive immigration reform, GOP Senate leaders and party strategists were privately arguing that failure to do something real on immigration reform, while not necessary to capturing a majority in 2014, was extremely important for 2016.

They emphasized that there was a need to get the issue off the table during this Congress and to at least begin to reduce the perception that Republicans are anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant. They recognized that the Republican Party was increasingly being seen among many as a party for old, white men—a demographic that is decreasing, not increasing, as a share of the electorate.

In the states with pivotal 2016 Senate races—not to mention presidential battleground states—Republicans are fighting in much tougher terrain than they are this midterm election. Getting buried with the Latino vote is nothing less than a prescription for a disaster. In 2012, Mitt Romney garnered only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, and the national Republican vote for Congress managed only 3 points better among Hispanics. As recently as 2004, President George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote and oh, by the way ...

Playing the Name Game for 2016

The most popular parlor game in Washington and among political aficionados across America at the moment is pondering who will run for president in 2016, who will be the finalists for each nomination, and who will ultimately win on Nov. 8.

It's always a fun game to play, with an infinite number of factors to be weighed and no one knowing the actual outcome for a very long time. But as much fun as it is, this hobby tends to obscure something more important: the fundamentals. What will the inherent value of a Democratic nomination be in 2016? And what is the intrinsic value of the Republican nomination?

We know from modern history that voters tend to opt for change after one party holds the White House for two full terms. Putting aside the Roosevelt-Truman era—which for political purposes was back when dinosaurs roamed—voters have opted to keep a party in the presidency for 12 years only once. In 1988, after President Reagan's second term, his vice president, George H.W. Bush, moved from Massachusetts Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Reagan's approval rating had been running in the low fifties during the fall 1988 campaign. It ...

No Perfect Political Weapon

Anyone who knows me well knows I am usually eyeing the oven for the next fresh batch of in-depth public-opinion data from Democracy Corps, a partnership between legendary Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville that just celebrated its 15th anniversary. It gets even better when the two team up with Resurgent Republic, cofounded by veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres, as they did to craft a national survey of 840 likely 2014 voters (including 50 percent reached on cellular phones) conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The survey was conducted March 19-23 for NPR, and it probed voters' attitudes on the Affordable Care Act, the state of the economy, and their choices in November.

Not surprisingly, Democracy Corps and Resurgent Republic touted the poll's release with broadly divergent memos: The Democrats' headline read, "Be Careful Accepting Conventional Wisdom on the Affordable Care Act and 2014 Being a Republican Year," while Republicans saw "Early Signs of Another Republican Midterm Wave." There is some glass-half-full/glass-half-empty mentality inherent in such a collaborative effort. But in my experience, given the track record of the research organizations involved, this is very high-quality stuff, and you can pretty much take the numbers themselves to ...

Early Predictions on the 2016 GOP Presidential Nomination

The extent to which the politics of the 2016 presidential nomination are already encroaching on the 2014 midterm elections is, indeed, quite something. Establishment Republicans worried about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political viability now seem to be turning their attention back to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who in turn is not exactly spurning their flirtations.

The Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas—unofficially dubbed "the Sheldon Primary"—presided over by gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, provided a preview of, at least, the "Republican Establishment Bracket" within the party's presidential-nomination tournament. Present and speaking to the 400 or so prominent Republican Jewish donors were Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Bush spoke to a smaller, more elite subgroup, hosted by Adelson in his aircraft hangar.

Although some reports have suggested that Christie—whose presidential aspirations have taken on considerable water since the George Washington Bridge controversy—did well, his reference to Israeli "occupied territories" didn't help him any. This glitch should serve as a fair warning to other governors with presidential hopes that they should get their foreign policy lingo down before they torpedo their own potential candidacies.

While Bush has long ...