The 2014 Big Picture So Far

April 23, 2014

With 195 days until the election, here are some ideas on how to talk about some of the bigger themes and key issues as we get closer to November 4th. 


Republicans have one issue and one message this year: Obamacare is bad, so Democrats are bad, so don’t vote for them.
The question is whether Republicans’ focus on healthcare will pay off for them. Clearly their strategists think it will. But there are many reasons to think the Republicans have made a bad bet here:
  • All of Republicans’ Obamacare horror stories have turned out to be wrong.
  • Signups have already sailed past the 8 million target and 10 million Americans have insurance for the first time. They don’t want Republicans to take it away.
  • Republican governors are refusing existing federal funds to cover six million working Americans who make too little to afford their own coverage.
  • This political posturing will cost thousands of lives this year, like the Florida mother who just died at work from a condition that would have been treated if Gov. Scott hadn’t taken her care away.
Republicans have no jobs plan either. They have an anti-jobs plan: it’s called the Ryan budget and it would cost us 3 million American jobs in the first two years.
The Ryan budget is bad for pretty much anyone who isn’t already wealthy: it hurts farmers, job seekers, veterans, and students. It would also privatize the Medicare we all pay into with every paycheck.
Given Republicans’ bad bets, it’s no surprise that so far, Democrats seem to have a real enthusiasm advantage. Republican approval levels are at an all-time low, and young voters are flocking to the Democratic Party.
There’s no doubt Republican billionaires will flood the airwaves with the false attack ads they always run, but lies and money aren’t enough to win, as Karl Rove’s SuperPAC learned in 2012 after spending over $300 million and losing 95% of its targeted races.

 KEY:  Connect with your audience |  Make your case |  Show how your opponents differ


  • Most Americans don’t oppose the Affordable Care Act. In fact 2 out of 3 Americans want to keep it and get the kinks worked out, not go back to a system where insurance companies are allowed to let people die uncared for.
  • 14 CNN/ORC polls going back to March 2010 consistently show a majority of Americans believe the law was a step in the right direction – they either approved or wanted it to be more liberal. For example:
    • 3/9/2014: 51% of Americans favor the law or think it did not go far enough (39% favored, 12% thought it was not liberal enough).
    • 12/19/2014: Half of Americans think the Affordable Care Act is an improvement (35% favored, 15% thought it was not liberal enough).
    • 1/18/2013: 54% of Americans thought the law was a step in the right direction (40% favored, 14% thought it was not liberal enough).
  • 3 out of 4 Americans oppose Republican efforts to push working Americans into the Medicaid gap by preventing them from getting health care under the Affordable Care Act—care that’s already paid for.


  • Campaign for America’s Future and the National Priorities Project listed some ways Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget defies what a majority of Americans want. Here are some of them:
    • 3 out of 4 Americans want deficit reductions to come from raising taxes on the wealthy and eliminating tax credits and deductions.
    • 4 in 5 Americans think that the funds from closing corporate loopholes or limiting deductions for the wealthiest Americans should be used for public investment and not to lower corporate tax rates.
    • A majority (54%) of Americans think that programs for the poor should be expanded by increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
    • 2 out of 3 Americans don’t think corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Likewise, 3 in 5 Americans don’t think wealthy Americans pay enough taxes.
    • 3 in 4 Americans think improving the job situation should be a top priority of government.
    • 7 in 10 Americans oppose cuts to food assistance for working families.
    • 7 out of 10 Americans think improving America’s education system should be a top priority of government.
    • 4 in 5 voters want to close tax loopholes so American corporations pay the same rates on foreign profits as they do on domestic ones.
    • 3 out of 5 wealthy Americans think they don’t pay enough in taxes.


  • Michael Bloomberg announced that he was making a $50 million investment to challenge the electoral influence of pro-gun groups like the NRA. It’s sad that we need a really rich guy to take up a cause like background checks that more than 80% of Americans agree with — including more than 80% of Republicans, and more than 80% of gun owners?
  • But politicians are more scared of the NRA than the numbers warrant. In 2012, the NRA lost 6 out of the 7 Senate races where they spent more than $100,000. In fact, 95% of their political spending went to candidates who lost.


  • Congressional predictions tend to favor Republicans right now: FiveThirtyEight reports that Republicans are a slight favorite to regain control of the Senate and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ballis predicting that Republicans are likely to gain 4-8 seats in the upper house. Meanwhile on the House side, Washington Post reports that Republicans are likely to gain 5 seats and Sabato’s Crystal Ball is predicting that Republicans are likely to gain 5-8 seats there.
  • But the fact is, it’s early. Way early. Trying to predict results almost 200 days before the election is like calling the game before it’s played.