By John LeBoutillier, Special for USDR
With eight days to go before these crucial midterm elections some things are already clear:
Never before have so many incumbents in both major political parties been so low in the polls this close to Election Day. If you look at most races — in both red and blue states — incumbents are stuggling to get above 45 percent — and the age-old rule has always been that anything under 50 percent for an incumbent was close to terminal because the undecided voters will usually break for the challenger.
Independent — or non-Democratic/Republican — candidates are doing well all over the country. They’re not all leading but several are into double digits — this is proof of voters’ disgust with the political class of both parties.
One independent — Kansas’s Greg Orman — has been leading for weeks and may even hold on and win a tough race against longtime Republican Sen. Pat Roberts (my 1980 Reagan Revolution classmate in the 97th Congress) in one of the country’s most conservative states.
Which national party is most disliked? Democratic, Republican or Tea Party? The somewhat surprising answer is the Republicans, at a whopping 54 percent. Yet they are still likely to have a banner night on Nov. 4.
The Passion Differential — the difference between those who are unhappy and those who are happy — and thus the difference between those who go out to vote and those who stay home during a midterm election — heavily favors the Republicans. In other words, there are more people ticked off at Obama and his party and thus willing to vote than there are people willing to traipse to the polls to support him.
The unwitting — and undeserved — recipient of this Passion Differential will be the GOP — who will have won a big victory in the Senate, House and statehouses, all while never saying what they will do once elected.
And thus comes 2015, when they take over both houses of Congress.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that first Senate GOP conference, when the doors are closed and the 54 newly sworn-in GOP senators sit down with each other for the first time to map out their 2015 agenda. That meeting — and what comes from it — will be more contentious and more divisive than any fights Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have ever had.
The Tea Party/Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)/Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) wing will oppose the Mitch McConnell Establishment Wing — with the Rand Paul 2016 campaign figuring into things. They will disagree on strategies and tactics and priorities — i.e., do we now repeal ObamaCare even though the president will veto anything we do? Do we tackle long-term debt reduction, i.e. Simpson-Bowles? What do we do on nationalized education policy? And on and on.
Ted Cruz will — yet again — work the Tea Party segment over in the House to pressure Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as he did in the ill-fated — and predicted in this space — utterly useless and disastrous-to-the-GOP-brand 2013 government shutdown.
The internecine fighting will be brutal. And the national news media will love it! What better for them than to watch the GOP civil war playing out on C-SPAN every day?
The Democrats, and Hillary Clinton especially, will chortle as the Republicans hand her this ready-made issue for 2016: “Do you want these guys running the country?”
All of the above will likely happen precisely because the Republican Party did not run on a positive and clear-cut agenda in the elections. If they had, then when they win, their path after the elections would have been clear.
But without that agenda and the stamp of approval from the voters, the election results are thus subject to interpretation. And that is where the trouble begins: Every elected Republican and political adviser will interpret what happened on Nov. 4 his or her way — instead of uniting behind the already-decided and approved-by-the-voters agenda.
This rule always applies: How you govern is decided by how you campaigned.
The two extremes: the 1980 Reagan campaign was filled with positive ideas — especially a 30 percent across-the-board income tax rate cut — and candidate Reagan ran on it. A year later, the American people forced a reluctant Democratic-ruled House to pass it. It eventually worked. The economy exploded with unprecedented growth that drove our economy for two decades.
The opposite: President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign ran on nothing but savaging the GOP and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Nothing positive was thrown out to the American people. Predictably, his second term has accomplished absolutely nothing — except to wipe out more Democrat incumbents.
So the prediction here is clear: The Republicans will retake control of the Senate. And in 2015, they will self-immolate.
Former Rep. LeBoutillier (R-N.Y.) is the co-host of “Political Insiders” on Fox News channel, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.