If you’re looking for signs that the House could be in play in 2014, there are plenty in the wake of the government shutdown. Between the macro trends (growing D leads on the generic ballot) and the race-by-race developments (a crop of new recruits running), Democrats have reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
— The most encouraging news for the party is on the recruitment front. Party operatives now expect to land a number of recruits in both: a) swing districts where serious challengers usually don’t run, even in good years; b) Republican-friendly seats where challengers only run in strong Democratic years, like 2006 and 2008.
— To wit: Dems are closing to landing a former gubernatorial nominee (Alex Sink) to run in FL-13, and a former congressman’s son (Bill Hughes, Jr.) to challenge Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). Neither seat has been in play for decades. In solidly-Republican suburban seats around Omaha (NE-02), Little Rock (AR-02) and South Bend (IN-02), Dems expect to recruit moderate candidates capable of winning crossover voters. These races alone aren’t enough to tip the majority, but if they’re indicative of a trend, stay tuned.
— This recruiting boomlet is a product of the more favorable national landscape for Dems. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Dems holding an 8-point lead on the generic, with Americans’ approval of their own representative at an all-time low (43%/47%). The only silver lining for the GOP: Obama‘s approval remains mediocre, and even a D+8 isn’t a guarantee of picking up the 17 seats necessary for control. Also: this is the GOP’s low-water mark, and the Dem numbers will probably take a hit given Obamacare’s implementation woes.
It wasn’t long ago that there was talk about widespread voter dissatisfaction leading to permanent wave elections. That’s still not likely this time, but the potential exists as voter approval continues to hit record lows.
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"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.