It’s been a bad summer for the Left. Will it be a bad November?
From the Supreme Court to survey results, from primaries to prisoner swaps, the summer months have delivered nary an encouraging note for the nation’s statists and progressives.
The left wing’s response to these setbacks has bordered on hysteria, and I use the term advisedly, especially concerning the Hobby Lobby contraception case. The rhetoric has been false, illogical, inflammatory and embarrassing.
Well, it’s embarrassing if you consider the possibility that left-wing spokespeople actually believe the things they’re saying.
Whether they believe them or not, those words are part of a strategy: to fire up the base and turn out the vote in a pivotal off-year election.
In Washington, D.C., Republicans can count on retaining control of the House and are going all out to take the Senate, but things look rather different in states that will be important in 2016.
Here in Pennsylvania, a Franklin & Marshall poll in early July showed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf beating Republican incumbent Tom Corbett by 22 points, 47 percent to 22 percent.
Given so lopsided a lead, state Sen. Jay Costa recently predicted that Democrats would reclaim the Senate in Harrisburg come November. Not to be cowed, the Republicans, who currently outnumber Senate Dems by 27 to 23, claim they have an 80 percent chance of increasing their ranks to 28.
While Mr. Wolf’s lead looks nearly decisive, individual districts tend to skew to either party and will depend on voter turnout, but the Franklin & Marshall poll, like a similar Quinnipiac poll in early June, was of registered voters, not likely voters, and when you consider recent voting trends, the Dems have their work cut out for them.
It’s old hat to note that the Republicans have a built-in advantage in midterm elections. Older voters pay more attention to, and turn out more reliably for, midyear elections, and as voters age, the more they skew Republican.
Recent primary elections hold an additional portent. While Democratic primary voting, historically higher than Republicans’, has been in steady decline since 1970, Republican primary turnout has largely remained steady.
A recent report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate shows that this all changed in 2010, when for the first time since the 1930s, Republican primary turnout outstripped the Democrats’. It has remained higher ever since, and this year, Democratic primary turnout hit an all-time low, the study shows.
Those statistics speak powerfully to voter apathy or downright discouragement, and nothing that’s happened since could possibly hearten the Left.
The summer of their discontent began just after Memorial Day, when the Taliban released U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who might have been captured as a result of deserting his post, in exchange for five high-level Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay. What the Obama administration thought would be greeted as a triumph instead provoked considerable bipartisan outrage.
No sooner had the Bergdahl debacle died down then the Supreme Court began making mincemeat of the Obama administration’s agenda.
Even the high court’s left wing joined the conservative justices in unanimously pronouncing the president’s supposed “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional. That was June 26.
Four days later, a divided court decided the federal government could not require for-profit businesses to provide employees with contraceptives that the employers deem abortifacients and therefore immoral; doing so would violate their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
Also on June 30, the Supreme Court decided, 5-4, that public-sector unions in Illinois cannot collect fees from home health care workers who do not want to be part of a union.
Last week, two federal courts rendered opposing decisions about whether Obamacare subscribers in states without their own insurance exchanges are eligible for federal subsidies.
Really, the bad news has rarely let up since the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare website last fall. It’s not surprising, though it’s not widely known, that Mr. Obama’s favorability ratings are in the tank: Reuters had him at 37 percent in mid-July, something that would have led the nightly news relentlessly during the Bush administration.
Hence all the summer’s frenzied rhetoric.
The Hobby Lobby decision was deplored as another battle in the right wing’s “War on Women,” and the (very narrow) home health care decision was another instance of the GOP’s war on labor. Eyes bulged and spittle flew.
The left might hope all this fear-mongering blows their beleaguered faithful to the ballot box, but surely even the faithful are a tad embarrassed.
Ruth Ann Dailey: firstname.lastname@example.org.