It has long been conventional wisdom that in midterm elections, the sitting president's party loses seats in Congress. Further, national media's talking heads, egged on by Nate Silver (who bombed the Eric Cantor primary just as badly as any other pollster of record), are taking their cues from the slaughter of a midterm for the Democrats in 2010.
The problem is, however, as the pollsters and pundits pontificate and nod knowingly, they are almost universally overlooking the key fact in this year's polling - even if the polling is to be trusted (see Cantor, Eric. Majority Leader, Ex). While the pontificators are busy touting how badly President Obama is polling, what they won't say is that Republicans are categorically polling not only far worse than the President, but much worse than Democrats in general.
Take last week's Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, for example. All the headlines said that President Obama's numbers are tied with his all-time lows in that poll. What they didn't mention is that Republican numbers are falling off the cliff. If you look at the relative favorability/approval data the WSJ/NBC poll reveals, the true picture looks more like this:
The President's net favorability is upside down by 4 points (41-45), and the Democrats as a party are down 2 points (38-40). Note that both the President's and the Democratic Party's ratings are within the poll's margin of error. But the Republican Party has a net disapproval rating of a whopping 26 points (29% of Americans feel positively about the GOP, compared with 55% disgusted by them). Just 6% of Americans have "very positive" feelings about the Party of No, and just 8% say the same about their driving force, the Tea Party.
The Tea Party. The modern GOP's life force as well as Frankenstein. It's bad enough that their net favorability is upside down by 19 points (22-41, and by following them the GOP has managed to make themselves even more unpopular than their Frankenstein), but the electoral implication is really more pronounced when their numbers are compared to the same poll at the same point in the election cycle four years ago. At that time, the Tea Party had a net positive favorability rating of 3 points (34-31). That is a 22-point flip, and it means that GOP's core is despised far more now than they were in 2010.
It's worth noting that compared to the same 2010 poll, the standing of the Democratic party has actually slightly improved, while the GOP's has severely deteriorated.
"GOP Tanking Faster than they can drag down Obama and Dems" should have been the headline story about this poll, and every other one like it. After all, that is what the data shows. But the media focused on the doom and gloom for the President. Why? Because any other storyline would expose the little houses of cards they are building.
2014 is not 2010. The American people have had four years to think over that mistake, and they have had six years to watch the Party of No, fueled by the racists and bigots in the Tea Party do everything they can to thwart anything good for the middle class. The American people are scantly aware of the process in Washington, and as such are not happy that nothing is getting done legislatively. For that, they blame everyone - allowing the Democrats' and the President's ratings to be dragged down. But we are not nearly as ready to hand the keys back to the crazies.
While the GOP and the Tea Party have done a good job of pulling down the president with them in the polls, not only is he notches above them, they have actually been shooting themselves in the foot a lot more. The poll, or others like it, are not, in any shape or form, indicating a bloodbath for Democrats or a second Republican wave in November, the media's drama queen nature notwithstanding.
2014 is not 2010. Not unless we let it be.