I'm hearing predictions from Nate Silver types of the Republican Party taking the Senate. According to today's edition of the Times, not only will Republicans maintain the House, its members will likely be even more conservative than they are now. Evidently shutting down the government to push tax cuts was too moderate for them. All of this is predicted despite extremely low approval ratings for the same inactive Congress crippled by Republican obstructionism.
There's the usual difficulties of the president's party in a second term midterm election, of course, but that's not all. With low turnout in the midterms, each party needs to turn out its base to win. The Democrats do okay in presidential elections because moderate voters are more in play, and they are less likely to vote for a party that has become the captive pawn of the radical conservative movement. In midterms the Republicans ride their base to victory, with the "shellacking" of 2010 after the mobilization of the Tea Party a case in point. The GOP is aware enough of the power of the base that they do whatever they can to drive Democratic turnout down, from ending early voting to voter ID laws.
The Democrats have responded to this Republican strategy by trying to appease moderates (who are rare in the midterms) by shitting all over their base, instead of courting it. Take immigration reform, which the president decided to delay until after the election so as to not alienate bigots in redder states. In doing so he broke an implicit promise with a group (Latinos) who helped put him in the White House. After that do you think anyone who cares about immigration reform is going to rush to the polls to vote Democrat? Or take the Kentucky election for Senate, where the Democratic candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes has spent as much time as she can bashing president Obama. This despite the fact that Obamacare has been a huge success story in the state. Essentially the Democratic candidate for the Senate is trashing the person responsible for improving the lives of millions of her constituents, and he's in her own party. If your choice is between Republican and Republican Lite, why would you vote for the watered-down version? Better yet, why would you vote for a party that doesn't even stand by its own policies, no matter how successful?
There's plenty more examples of Democrats shitting on their base, then coming around with the begging bowl and pleas to go to the polls. Plenty of Democrats have jumped on the "education reform" bandwagon, which is really a ploy to destroy teachers unions, a group that has historically been an important and loyal supporter of the Democrats. African Americans vote Democratic in overwhelming numbers, yet the president was slow to discuss Ferguson, and has been called out for engaging in a kind of respectability politics that skirts structural poverty. Obama ran twice against fighting 'stupid wars," but now has decided that getting involved in a brand new stupid war is just fine.
And after all this, the Democrats expect their base to meekly fall in line, and that somewhere, somehow down the road their demands will be listened to, rather than ignored. Honestly, as far as this voter is concerned, why bother? Until the Democrats actually do the bidding of their supporters, there's no reason to vote for them. If enough of us withhold our votes, these thickheaded, mendacious cowards might just do the right thing, even if it's out of fear of losing power. Whatever works, because the status quo is untenable.