Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Will Obama Controversies Affect Democratic Recruitment?

The Obama administration was under fire this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Obama administration was under fire this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is no doubt that the three major controversies on which President Barack Obama finds his administration on the defensive — Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservatives and the seizure of AP phone records — have changed the political narrative of the day. Instead of mobilizing all of his resources to promote his agenda, the president and administration officials are having to spend time and energy answering and rebutting Republican charges.

But it isn’t clear how much of an impact, if any, the controversies will have on the 2014 midterms. Even if (when) those controversies fade, however, there could be short-term consequences for both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the area of recruitment.

Are potential 2014 candidates now looking at the environment and concluding that next year won’t be as good a Democratic year as they had hoped? Are they reassessing their intentions, concluding that the IRS scandal, in particular, will produce an energized and united GOP?

So far, Democratic strategists say that they have not heard from potential candidates who are worried about a deteriorating political environment or showing greater hesitancy about taking the electoral plunge this cycle. But at least it is worth watching over the next couple of months to see if often-mentioned potential candidates start jumping into races or removing themselves from consideration.

Candidate recruitment, after all, can determine which states and districts are in play in November 2014 and which races have simply vanished from everyone’s scorecard.

  • Jim Dickey

    It’s already started, Stu. Look at the former congressperson from South Dakota and the one white Democrat congressman from Georgia both declining to be their party’s best hope for winning the 2014 Senate races.

    Oh, yeah, and it surprised me in your belittling of Cruz’s chances for President in another column that you referred to how Ronald Reagan had “wide appeal.” That’s not what liberal columnists like you said back in 1980. The word then was that Reagan was a right-wing extremist who would be the GOP’s weakest candidate and bound to go down in a Goldwater style defeat if the party was foolish enough to nominate him.

    Just like you talked about Cruz today.

    • Ryan

      Your examples are intentionally inaccurate. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced her intentions before the Administration’s response, before the hearings, before the launching of the investigation…essentially, while this story was nothing more than a headline. The idea that it played a role in her decision is laughable.

      As for John Barrow, he announced that he did not intend to run for Senate five days BEFORE the IRS story broke. His decision not to seek higher office had as much to do with the IRS as Steve King’s similar decision did.

      • Hugh Everett

        So 2014 wasn’t shaping up as a banner year for Democrats before the scandals broke. It’s looking even less promising today.

    • Edgar Mendez

      Cruz is a CANADIAN he will never be president.

  • teapartydoc

    I don’t know. The Obama Youth are having a big celebration at Nuremburg next week. There’ll be fireworks, and public denunciations of enemies of the state, and torches. Lots of torches. And they’ll burn a pile of books from the Heartland Institute after raiding their offices for being subversive. Evil Midwesterners.

  • maypo

    Wise guidance from Ben Stein –
    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president.”

  • mirt

    “…Republican charges.”

    It speaks tons about Democrats that they do not charge Obama with IRS scandal.
    I conclude that they find it normal that content of your prayers influence your tax return. The only thing to save their reputation would be to fiercely attack IRS and Obama over this, but I do not hold the breath: their partisanship is too strong for this.

    It is not D vs R, it is that the feds (sometimes D, sometimes R) overreached and moved to dictatorship territory. The scandal is that D+R gave too much power to IRS, FDA, EPA etc, and this alphabet soup in DC is now terrorizing 300mils of US population as they want, without any oversight (see how they lie to Congress?)

  • ez

    They wont hear from any new recruits because the new recruits are looking for this type of environment. They can act at will on their own.

  • Attila

    Of course Democrats will continue to recruit. They’ll increasingly resemble a Party made up of Al Frankens, Anthony Wieners and Sheila Jackson Lees. They have the Druggie, Doper, Criminal, Illegal Alien, Commie, Degenerate and Enviro Wack-Job Votes sewn-up. Let’s see how much it helps them in the next Congressional Elections.
    In electing an unqualified, incompetent Crypto-Marxist into the White House they may have backed themselves into a corner by relying for future election victories on a unique set of circumstances taking place over and over again that are unlikely to be replicated. They may have reamed themselves outside of their Urban Safe Seats, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people.

    • Edgar Mendez

      wtf is crypto-marxism?

      • Attila

        Being a Marxist but not having the stones to proudly tell people that’s your belief system (aka: Liberalism).

  • Tim McFall

    Gee, having your party tied to every failure imaginable surely won’t have an effect in any silly ole political calculations. Pass the popcorn. Heh.

  • Jim Temple

    Are you kidding? Who wouldn’t want to belong to political party that would do anything to win an election, including corrupting the IRS to remove your political opposition? Who wouldn’t want to belong to a party that recognizes how bad this is yet puts people out to say they’re not sure it was wrong? Who wouldn’t want to belong to a political party that has no concept of the constitution and is willing to target people who mention the word?
    If you honestly believe the problems with this are recruitment for the Democrats, you really have some blinders on. I don’t know how far the Republicans will be able to carry this because the Democrats and Pravda, Izvestia and Tass are already circling the wagons, but this is much more serious than the talking heads are letting on.

  • Az_A

    In the face of Democratic corruption, maybe the first question should not be “how will this will hurt the Democrats?”


    Dem senate majority in 14 is history. Reid will be just as irrelevant as pelosi is.

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