Only a year ago, there were Democratic fantasies of retaking the House. Nov 3, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 08 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
"Republicans could lose their House majority because of the shutdown,” blared the headline of a story published at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog by Princeton professor Sam Wang on October 8, 2013, midpoint of the 16-day shutdown. Two weeks after Wang pointed to surveys showing control of the House could slip away from Republicans, three different reputable polls showed the situation even more dire for the GOP: Democrats led Republicans by 8 percentage points on the “generic ballot” question—the same margin by which House Democrats had led when they’d delivered their 2006 “thumping” to Republicans.
What a difference a year makes. “If Democrats were able to hold their losses under five seats in the House, that’s a great night for them,” Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report told me in an interview two weeks before the upcoming midterm elections. “If Democrats lose between 5 and 10 seats, that’s about what we would expect. If Republicans gain 10 seats or more, wow, that would be a great night for them.”
House Republicans mostly have Obamacare to thank for the reversal of partisan fortunes. Days after the government shutdown ended, millions of Americans learned that they were losing health care plans they liked—contrary to the president’s emphatic promises that they would be able to keep them. By November 2013, the Democrats’ approval had tanked, and it never recovered.
Republicans now hold a 4-point lead on the generic ballot question and have gone on the offensive in the Northeast. There are at least six races to watch in New York alone on election night. When polls close on the East Coast on November 4, these races may signal whether a national GOP wave or merely a good year is unfolding for Republicans.
- Republicans have their best shot of picking up a seat in upstate New York’s 21st District, where polls show Elise Stefanik, a former aide on the Romney campaign and in the Bush White House, leading Aaron Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and grocery store owner from Brooklyn. Stefanik’s likely win will come as vindication for conservatives, who were told only a moderate or liberal Republican could carry the district.
During a 2009 special election in the 21st, the local and national Republican establishment backed liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava, who supported Obama’s stimulus package, taxpayer-funded abortion, and card check (which eliminates the secret ballot in union elections). She wouldn’t even say if she would vote against Obamacare. But conservatives were told that Republicans would have to move left if they wanted to win in upstate New York in the Obama era. For the first time in an election, the Tea Party rebelled and backed Conservative party nominee Doug Hoffman, who lost narrowly after Scozzafava dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat. Moderate pro-choice Republican Matt Doheny lost the district in 2010 and was defeated again in 2012.
In 2014, incumbent Democrat Bill Owens retired after Stefanik jumped into the race and the Obamacare implementation debacle occurred. Stefanik, a 30-year-old fiscally conservative, hawkish, and pro-life Republican, has united the GOP. If elected, she will be the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.
- Republicans also have high hopes for another young New York Republican, 34-year-old Lee Zeldin, who is running for Congress in New York’s 1st District, on the eastern half of Long Island. Zeldin, an Iraq war veteran and state senator, trailed incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop by 10 points (51 percent to 41 percent) in the Siena College poll released in early September, the only public poll released so far.
But Republicans say the race has tightened in internal polling. “Every poll I’ve seen shows this race tied,” says one GOP operative. “I don’t mean margin-of-error tied—I mean 42-42, 46-46. This is going to be one of the closest races in the country.” Republicans have certainly put their money where their mouth is: The National Republican Congressional Committee has spent nearly $2 million on the race. The Cook Political Report’s Wasserman gives “a slight advantage in that race to Bishop, but there’s no doubt it’s competitive.” If Zeldin wins, he will be the only Jewish Republican in Congress.
8:01 AM, Oct 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Republican Elise Stefanik was attacked in a debate last night by her Democratic opponent, Aaron Woolf, for never having worked a manual labor job. Woolf is a multimillionaire documentary filmmaker and a health food store owner.
Watch the exchange here:
9:10 AM, Oct 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elise Stefanik delivered this week's Republican address:
Stefanik is running for Congress in New York's 21st Congressional District. If elected in November, Stefanik will be the youngest woman in Congress.
Hi, I’m Elise Stefanik, and I’m running for Congress in New York's 21st District.
Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Republican voters are down on the sluggish GOP officials they elected, and the officeholders whine about the unreasonable people who voted for them. Republican backbenchers complain about their lame leaders, and GOP leaders grumble about their unruly followers. Right-wing pundits despair of unimaginative Republican pols, and the hard-headed pols are impatient with impractical commentators. Conservative activists loathe the GOP establishment, and the establishment is terrified and contemptuous of the base.
'For live mice, filth flies and roaches.'7:01 AM, Aug 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Aaron Wolf, the Democrat running for Congress in New York's 21st Congressional District, runs a grocer in Brooklyn that's received "83 Health Department violations," according to the New York Daily News, "for live mice, filth flies and roaches."
Elise Stefanik’s bid for Congress.Jun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
"Our health care coverage was canceled as a result of Obamacare. Our premiums have increased 30 percent. We have higher deductibles and less choice.” It’s a story that could be told by millions of Americans and a story that surely will be told in hundreds of campaign ads this fall. What makes these words remarkable is that they aren’t spoken by an average voter, but by a candidate for the House of Representatives.
12:23 PM, Apr 14, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
The Watertown Daily Times reports that Elise Stefanik beat out Matt Doheny to win the endorsement of the Conservative party in New York's 21st congressional district:
State Conservative Party Chairman Michael R. Long said an “overwhelming” 17 out of 19 members of the executive committee supported Ms. Stefanik because they believe she is a “new face” that “can best deliver a solution.”
12:16 PM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican investment banker and two-time candidate for Congress Matt Doheny is running again for a House seat in upstate New York. Roll Call reports:
4:01 PM, Nov 12, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic National Committee chair and Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN this weekend that House Democrats would run--and win--in 2014 by embracing the Affordable Care Act.
“I think actually that Democrats will be able to run on Obamacare as an advantage,” Wasserman Schultz said.
10:33 AM, Aug 6, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Elise Stefanik, a young small businesswoman and former Bush administration aide, announced today in a YouTube video that she's running for the U.S. House in New York's 21st congressional district:
Roll Call reports that the race should be competitive:
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