Although the election is still several months away, Republicans are working hard to gain the Senate while the Democrats are doing the same to hold onto it. For Republicans, gaining the majority in the Senate will be tougher than they think.
Depending on who you ask, Republicans do have a shot at taking over the Senate. There are enough Democratic seats up for grabs in red states. But the GOP has numerous problems. For starters, as the Republican party works hard to unite, it still has a great deal of fragmentation. There is the Christian right faction of the party, the tea party faction and the more moderate old school true GOP'ers. This fragmentation continues to hurt the GOP's ability to attract youth, women and minority voters (specifically Latinos and African-Americans). And on certain issues, such as immigration reform, it makes the task of actually legislating all the more difficult.
Meanwhile, enrollments under the president's health care law, known as Obamacare, are now at 5 million, edging ever closer to the goal of 6 million by month's end. This makes it much harder for Republicans to speak their mantra of "defund, repeal, replace." The program might have flaws, but it hasn't fallen flat on it's face as the right had hoped. And being against Obamacare simply isn't going to be enough to take over the Senate in November.
So while the Republicans are putting forth a confident face regarding a Senate takeover, they still haven't been able to answer a looming question: How do you get the support of communities that haven't supported you in the past?
On Tuesday, speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus stated, "Today I can report, and I hope you can tell, that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business at the RNC." And they have. When many Democrats were laughing at the lack of money and effort the GOP has been putting into technology and data, Republicans decided to beef up that side of their operation. And speaking of beef, they have spent big. In order to establish outreach offices nationwide, they've spent about $12 million just for those efforts alone.
But what good is outreach in communities where you have voted against programs that would have helped such communities? For instance, Republicans voted to cut food stamps and education, are trying to turn back the progress women have made, voted against the Dream Act, and have waged a constant fight against same sex marriage, to name just a few.
Historically, Republicans have not been able to get votes from growing voter populations like women, minorities, youth and also gays, because, as Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, "they have an out of touch agenda." And although the president's approval rating is low, Congress' is lower, with Republicans even lower than the Democrats.
Rather than trying to gain the support of a community they have consistently
voted against, the Republicans would be better to try to get those people to
stay home. Voter turn out is low enough in a mid-term election and poor
Democratic turnout might just be the Republicans only hope.