Editorial: Could the Tea Party return in 2014? You bet.
A too cerebral president vacillates in midterm, his can-do campaign rhetoric long forgotten. New Hampshire voters react by penciling in the box next to any name accompanied by an R. The next thing you know, a Tea Party legislature is cutting money for higher education in half, endorsing sidearms in the State House and eliminating services for troubled children.
The year was 2010. After voters threw the bums out in 2012, the new Legislature spent a lot of time undoing most of the damage.
Could 2010 happen again in 2014? You bet.
A recent New York Times-CBS poll showed President Obama’s popularity at 41 percent, its lowest point in two years. As a result, a majority of respondents in the poll said they were more likely to vote Republican than Democratic in the fall.
The Republican Party is wallowing in an identity crisis. Republican House Speaker John Boehner rides far lower in popularity than the president. Under the false claim of religious freedom, conservative Republicans sound like Jim Crow southern Democrats in their schemes for ostracizing gay people.
It isn’t as if voters don’t recognize these problems. Although they say they’re leaning Republican, the poll indicated, they favor Democratic positions on many issues, including same-sex marriage immigration and gun control.
Unless an economic boom occurs, midterm elections are often a problem for the party of the incumbent president. The other trend that bodes ill for Democrats is that some of their core constituencies turn out in greater proportions for presidential elections than in off-years.
Vice President Joe Biden has taken note of the gloom in his party. In recent speeches his message is that plenty good can still happen between now and Election Day. Asserting that “There is no Republican Party,” he’s pushing Democrats to embrace their positions with gusto.
New Hampshire Democrats should take this message to heart. With the help of moderate Republicans in the Legislature, they’ve pulled the state back to its live-and-let live roots. They’re on the verge of passing a Medicaid plan. In the coming campaign, they should herald that plan and the other benefits of Obamacare.
They also need to be smart about preventing a repeat of the Tea Party takeover in 2010. That will require a full-scale campaign to ensure that voters know about the far-out positions of some Tea Party candidates.
The odds in the 2014 election favor Republicans, and the stakes are high. New Hampshire voters need reminding about the embarrassing antics of the Tea Party legislature. If complacent Democrats and undeclared centrists stay home next November, the state could be in for another nasty swing to the far right.