The signs of a wave election abound for Republicans. Recent polling even shows that Millennials and women voters favor Republicans in 2014. Obama’s disappearance from the campaign trail is another sign. So too is Bill Clinton’s appearance in California just one week before the election.
Ideally, far ahead of an election, a political party shores up its political base. Months before, a party seeks votes among the undeclared or the independent – and as the election cycle closes, it seeks to expand the playing field and win elections in places the other party thought secure.
In 2014, that formula obviously resembles the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party. For many months, polling has shown that Republican voters were far more enthusiastic about voting in the 2014 midterms than Democrats. That was a sure sign the Republican Party base was more secure than the Democrat base.
More recent polling has shown a broad movement toward the Republican Party on the issues and among demographic groups. For instance, a Harvard Poll took a poll of Millenials using a very large sampling group. They found that among Millennials, who are definitely voting, they favored Republicans 51% to 47%. That is quite a turnaround from 2008 and 2012.
Among women, polls show the “gender gap” all but erased. Among Latinos, a recent poll showed their enthusiasm for Democrats is down, and by a margin of 30% to 15%, they think GOP control of the Senate would be a good thing. Meanwhile, voters favor Republicans on the major issues of the election such as the economy and national security by wide margins.
Not coincidentally, the Republican Senate playing field has expanded from Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota to Colorado, Iowa, Alaska and Arkansas. Even Louisiana and New Hampshire are within striking distance.
At the same time, Democrats are in damage control. Obama has all but been politically quarantined. They have given up on retaining Senate seats they have held while they make a last-ditch effort to shore up seats in places long thought invulnerable.
All of which brings us to Bill Clinton being in California.
The demographics of California began changing long ago – and in a direction favorable to the Democrats. Obviously, a greater proportion of voters are Latino and Asian, and Republicans have yet to develop the political relationships necessary to gain their trust and then their votes.
The high-profile candidacies of Michelle Park-Steel, Young Kim, Janet Nguyen and Ling-Ling Chang indicate that the tide may be changing, as does the extraordinary work of Grow Elect in California. Grow Elect “is dedicated to recruiting, training, advising, and funding qualified Latino Republican candidates” and, among others, is championing the likes of Mayor Mario Guerra, a popular mayor in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, and his neck and neck bid for the California Senate.
Beyond that dynamic, as the demographer Joel Kotkin and the economists Art Laffer and Steve Moore have separately demonstrated, middle-class voters and tax payers have left California for states with better job opportunities and lower tax rates. Meanwhile, incoming Californians generally have lower incomes and are more dependent on government assistance. As a result, voter registration numbers for Republicans have slipped over the years and California has become a deeper blue state.
So why is Bill Clinton in California one week before the election? Because even in California, the failure of government-centric politics has put Democrats on the defensive.
As I have written many times, California is #1 in the country in poverty. It is near the bottom in education and at the bottom as a place to start a business. It is true that there are pockets of great prosperity. It is also true, as it is nationally, that the middle class has been decimated in California because of a lack of broad-based economic growth.
As a result, Republicans are predicted to pick up Assembly seats, State Senate seats, Congressional seats and perhaps even a statewide office. In other words, things are so bad for Democrats that they are on the defensive even in California where Republican waves haven’t hit its gorgeous beaches in years. 2014 could well be different.
Originally published in Forbes.