- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2014

Observers are calmly standing back and taking in the dramatic tableau unfolding in front of them. The Democratic Party is edging toward panic mode, a revelation now emanating from both critics and the mainstream media in radioactive waves. The party’s loss to Republican Rep. David Jolly in a Florida special election almost a week ago is now framed as a harbinger of things to come. The party may need a fallout shelter from the fallout.

“Watch in the week or so ahead for a few more retirements by veteran House Democrats. I’m told the Florida special election results were the last straw for at least two and perhaps more House Democrats facing tough 2014 races. Leadership will make a run at persuading these lawmakers otherwise — but with hope of regaining the majority all but lost, watch the Capitol exits,” CNN “Inside Politics” host John King predicted on Sunday.

The New York Times points out that “Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed about their midterm election fortunes” while MSNBC host Chris Matthews mournfully chimed in, “They’re going to lose the Senate.” Even former White House advisor David Plouffe is getting antsy, telling Bloomberg News that “a screaming siren” has gone off.


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“Is it time to panic yet?” asks Weekly Standard columnist Geoffrey Norman, who suggests the prevailing theme of the moment is “Democrats in trouble.” And they could get raucous.

“Most of the doom is attributed to the damage done to the party’s brand by Obamacare’s troubles and — all together now — those horrible Koch brothers and all of their money,” Mr. Norman says.

“There is talk of going for turnout and scaring voters with stuff about how the Republicans are coming for their Medicare and Social Security. And surely this will happen, along with warnings of wars on women, the young and the climate. More interesting, perhaps, is what is not mentioned. Namely, the economy,” he continues, noting that some six in 10 Americans insist the U.S. is in a recession.

“One doesn’t want to go too far out on a limb here, but might that not incline a lot of voters to think it is time for a change? Been six years and, still, things don’t seem to be getting much better,” Mr. Norman concludes.

THE INTERCHANGEABLE CONTENDERS

Once again, Sen. Rand Paul has riveted popular imagination. He’s won yet another survey of Republican voters, garnering 16 percent of the support for a White House run in 2016 according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Just behind him: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin with 15 percent, Texas. Gov. Rick Perry with 11 percent and Mike Huckabee with 10 percent.

Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and three more contenders are down in the chilly single digits. Of note: Mitt Romney turned in last place with 3 percent of the vote. It is significant, however, that CNN chose to include him. But the network sees the roster of names as almost interchangeable at this early stage.

“With a crowded field and no clear front-runner among the potential candidates, we should expect to see constant fluctuation in the amount of support most candidates get and the order of finish, so it would be easy to read too much into these numbers,” says CNN polling director Keating Holland.

BUMPER PATROL

Ted Cruz/Rand Paul 2016

— Bumper sticker spotted in Grand Prairie, Texas.

O’BAMA

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