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February 20, 2014 10:10 AM The Thumbs on the Scale for the GOP in ‘14

By Ed Kilgore

If you don’t have the time to slog through a lot of material about the landscape for the 2014 elections, and don’t understand why the clownish buffoons of a party with abysmal approval ratings are looking so confident about November (to the point where they mainly worry about getting out of their own way and letting victory just happen), check out Sahil Kapur’s succinct piece at TPM today that boils it all down to four factors: (1) the “six-year curse,” the tendency of the party holding the White House to lose badly in second-term midterms (with the sole exception of 1998), and especially in the Senate; (2) the “midterm falloff” turnout problem for Democrats in all midterms, a subject I’ve written about obsessively here; (3) a wildly pro-Republican Senate landscape (which will, fortunately for Democrats, be reversed in 2016; and (4) a GOP advantage in the House based on more efficient voter distribution plus redistricting, that would take a Democratic wave (which in turn would require a big, big surge in presidential approval ratings) to produce.

This listing of Republican advantages, moreover, does not include some rumblings of a big financial advantage.

Democrats obviously can’t do anything about three of these four factors, which involve statements of facts and historical precedents. They are very focused on the “midterm falloff” problem, but it’s not clear exactly how much targeted GOTV can reduce the ancient discinclination of minority and especially young voters to disregard midterms.

So yeah, Republicans enjoy advantages in this cycle which have zero—literally zero—to do with their strategy and tactics, the popularity of their agenda, or the quality of their candidates. They are capable of blowing some of those advantages, but even a blindfolded hog will find a truffle now and then, so nobody should count on them screwing it all up.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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