Barack Obama came to North Carolina today to give a speech. But two Democrats from the Tarheel State reacted vastly different to his arrival in their home state.
Senator Kay Hagan has a 100% voting record from the pro-abortion group NARAL and supports redefining marriage. Rep. Mike McIntyre has cast many pro-life votes, openly supported North Carolina’s marriage amendment, voted against Obamacare from day one, and is one of only two House Democrats to vote to defund Obamacare.
So, naturally, one politician flew on Air Force One with the President and the other politician came up with another event so as not to be seen near Obama.
If you think it was pro-abortion Senator Kay Hagan who flew with President Obama on Air Force One, you would be wrong.
You see, Senator Kay Hagan is the one who refuses to campaign next to Obama because she is trying to run for reelection in North Carolina this year. But why then is Mike McIntyre flying on Air Force One with President Obama? Isn’t this the same McIntyre who refused to endorse Barack Obama in 2012?
Ah, but Rep. Mike McIntyre announced last week that he won’t be running for reelection this year. You can bet if he hadn’t announced his retirement, he would have found another event to be at as well.
McIntyre’s decision to not run again means that Republicans are likely to win his seat in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, where voters supported Romney with 59% of the vote in 2012.
McIntyre isn’t the only Democrat who has managed to win a race in unfriendly territory.
Take for example Utah’s 4th Congressional District. In 2012, 67% voters in this District supported Mitt Romney compared to just 30% for Obama. But Democrat Jim Matheson survived and was reelected to Congress that same year by just 768 votes. How did Matheson do it? Well, he was the furthest thing from a big city Democrat. He was pro-life, pro-gun, and (with McIntyre) he was the only Democrat who voted to defund Obamacare. Family affinities matter, too. It didn’t hurt that his father was Governor of Utah from 1977-1985.
But last month Jim Matheson announced he wouldn’t be running for reelection in 2014. His previous opponent, Mia Love, announced her candidacy even before Matheson’s decision. She is well-loved by conservative activists nationwide and spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2012. She looks like a heavy favorite to win this seat for the Republicans. If successful, Mia Love will become the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She is also strongly pro-life.
One of the worst Democrats in Congress is Jim Moran. He represents the Democratic stronghold of Arlington, Virginia (where federal employees live). He announced his retirement today. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy that this pro-abortion “Catholic” will soon be out of office. But his decision will have zero impact on control of the U.S. House because barring an absolute miracle on top of another miracle, another Democrat will be sworn in next January for this seat.
But McIntyre and Matheson?
They’re decisions to retire make the Democrats’ already difficult task of winning control of the U.S. House even harder.
So here are three quick reasons (well, two quick, one longer) why Republicans in a great position to prevent Democrats from winning 17 seats they need to win control of the House.
1. Retirements of Moderates: As I mentioned, Democrats are unlikely to find a Democrat who can win the seats held by retiring Mike McIntyre and Jim Matheson. Harder for Democrats to gain 17 seats with these two expected losses.
2. Six-Year Itch: The congressional elections during a president’s second term are usually tough on the president’s party. Think Bush in 2006, Reagan in 1986. Eisenhower, Truman, and LBJ (with a partial first-term) felt this impact, too. Clinton fared better in 1998 because Republicans didn’t handle impeachment properly, but this is the exception. Given Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, I’d say 2014 is looking good for the GOP.
3. The Big Sort: Bob Kerrey was once a Senator from Nebraska. He was considered a strong presidential candidate in 1992. But when he decided to try to return to the Senate in 2012, he lost in a 15-point landslide to a State Senator who had almost no name ID at the beginning of that year. How did this happen? Well, liberals tend to move out of small states like Nebraska and move to Chicago. Or they’ll move to New York or Los Angeles. This makes Nebraska more conservative over time. So back in 1993, both of Nebraska’s Senators were Democrats and one of their three House seats was held by a Democrat. Today, Nebraska’s entire Congressional delegation is Republican. Meanwhile, the 15th Congressional District in the Bronx gave Obama 96.7% of the vote. And no, that ain’t all voter fraud. That district isn’t just blue, it’s navy. But since federal law requires that Congressional Districts cannot cross state lines (obviously) and that a district has to be in one piece (even if stretched for hundreds of miles on a freeway), how can you spread out all the Democrats in New York City? Democrat voters have decided to bunch themselves together in small geographic areas like Manhattan, creating ultra-safe 90%+ Districts for Democrats. That makes the Democrats from these District rather extreme. But it also means that the districts in upstate New York are more competitive. In other words: Both parties do gerrymandering (North Carolina for GOP, Illinois for the Dems), but the decision of Democrats to congregate in big urban cities will give Republicans a chance to win in all the other areas.
That’s why in 2012, Democrats won a half-million more votes than Republican in House races, but the GOP maintained control of the House because they won 55% of the seats. If we want the House to remain in pro-life hands, then we need to make sure we protect potential vulnerable incumbents like CatholicVote-endorsed Dan Benishek. And we should help other great candidates return to the House, like Bobby Schilling, Frank Guinta, and Quico Canseco. But unless something catastrophic happens, Republicans are in a strong edge to retain control of the House.